Category Archives: #personalgrowth

Simpler is Better

For the last few years my wife and I have been simplifying our lives.  Basically, we’ve been getting rid of a bunch of stuff, and downsizing wherever possible.  Here are some examples:

In West Virginia our house sat on 15 acres of land, and it took me over 10 hours to mow everything using a fairly large John Deere tractor.  Now our house sits on a small city lot, and I can mow the lawn in about 10 minutes.

We used to have two pick-up trucks and a car, but now we have one car and a scooter.

Our library of books was once rather impressive, and I in particular was quite proud of my extensive collection of reference materials (probably because I thought it made me look smart, although the books only collected dust year after year).  We have given dozens of books away over the last few years, and now we are more apt to borrow books from the library than to buy them.

Same thing with CDs – Why did we need dozens of CDs when we listened to them only while on road trips?  I sold several of them on eBay, and many more we simply gave away.

Sheri in particular has weaned herself from a large collection of clothes, and now participates in “minimalist” projects such as the selection of a limited wardrobe to wear for a couple months at a time.  It sure makes getting dressed a whole lot less complicated.

I should be embarrassed to admit that I could only wean myself of 10 of a total of 40 screwdrivers, but hey – that’s 25 percent!  I expect that someone will have to pry my tools from cold, dead hands.

We recently cancelled our DirecTV service and telephone landline, which not only simplifies our lives but saves us over $115 a month.  Now most nights you can find us sitting in our comfy IKEA lounge chairs, me happily studying Spanish while Sheri is happily knitting away or reading.  

Many of us hold onto way, way, way too much stuff … and life really is simpler with less.  And simpler is better.

So go ahead and start going through all your stuff, all the stuff piled in your garage and in your basement and in your attic and in your closets.  Figure out what you need and what you don’t need any more … and give away everything you don’t need.  I recommend giving it to smaller thrift stores that directly benefit the community, for example my preferred recipient here in Utah is Crossroads Urban Center.

By giving away all that stuff that is just collecting dust you’ll make your life simpler, plus you’ll feel good about sharing some of your abundance with others.  But of course you can keep some of your most cherished items … for example my Spanish language learning resources are staying right here with me, together with my tools in my still warm hands.

Fail Often and Shamelessly

I encourage everyone to fail OFTEN and SHAMELESSLY.

This philosophy applies to just about any area of life where you want to learn and grow – and especially to LEARNING SPANISH.   Countless people, probably since the advent of humankind, have told us that we must be willing to fail BEFORE we can succeed.  Here are some examples:

  • Failure is the tuition you pay for success.
  • You’ll always miss one hundred percent of the shots you do not take.
  • I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate.
  • While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.
  • In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.
  • Mistakes are the portals of discovery.
  • A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
  • Don’t think about failure. Think about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.
  • Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.
  • Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.
  • A life without mistakes is a mistake within itself.
  • You must be willing to do something poorly before you can do it well.
  • He who never fell, never climbed.
  • Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

So with regard to learning Spanish, I encourage everyone to fail OFTEN and SHAMELESSLY.  Make tons of mistakes speaking Spanish –it is the only way to learn.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  You will simply not learn to speak and hear Spanish unless you are willing to make many mistakes along the way.  SO GET OUT THERE AND START MAKING MISTAKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look for every opportunity to speak with someone in Spanish … any time you see someone who you think might be Latino, try it out.  Speak in Spanish to the bank teller … insurance agent … cashier … teacher … landscaper … software developer, etc.  Just go up to someone at every opportunity and say, “Buenos dias … ¿como está? … permitame presentarme, me llamo Keith,” and try to get a conversation going.  Is there anything wrong with that – no!

The worst that could happen is that someone gets offended by the fact that YOU THOUGHT they were Latino and that they speak Spanish.  That has happened to me only a few times, but in reality that is a rare occurrence.  But I don’t worry about that, and I will tell you why.  Countless times in my life I have interacted with someone who spoke little English … and I don’t get offended!  I am happy to try to help someone try to communicate in English.  Likewise, I encounter Latinos frequently in life (especially living here in Utah) and I always find them happy to converse with me in my BROKEN Spanish.  Latinos are wonderful and friendly people, and will be more than happy to help you with your Spanish.

So get out there and … FAIL … OFTEN and SHAMELESSLY … to speak and hear Spanish.   ¡Olé!

P.S. If you want an opportunity to make mistakes speaking Spanish, join us for the Sólo en Español Camping Trip this coming weekend, where only Spanish will be spoken all the time – total Spanish immersion!

Also posted in #learnspanish

Let’s Talk About Your Feelings

Are you still sad (triste) that the Utah Jazz traded D-Will to the New Jersey Nets?


Do you feel guilty (culpable) for not practicing enough Spanish this week?


Are you confused (confundirse) and overwhelmed (abrumado) because you cannot figure out whether we are in Spring, Winter, or Summer right now?


If so, don’t be worried (preocupado) … Sólo en Español Associates can help!  We are a supportive, caring, full-service group that can help you talk about your feelings (sentimientos).


In fact, you need to be prepared to talk about your feelings Tuesday night at Mestizo using any of the following adjectives:


exhausted – agotado
confused – confundirse
ecstatic – éxtasis
guilty – culpable
suspicious – sospechoso
angry – enojado
hysterical – histérica
frustrated – frustración
sad – triste
confident – confianza
embarrassed – vergüenza
happy – feliz
mischievous – travieso
disgusted – disgustado
frightened – miedo
enraged – enfureció
ashamed – vergüenza
cautious – cautelosos
smug – petulante
depressed – deprimido
overwhelmed – abrumado
hopeful – esperansado
lonely – sola
lovestruck – enamerado
jealous – celosa
bored – aburrido
surprised – sorprendió
anxious – ansiosos
shocked – sorprendió
shy – timido


Remember! – at Sólo en Español Associates there is always hope (esperanza).

Also posted in #learnspanish

12 Mindful Movements

The following 12 mindful movements are adapted from the seminal work of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He developed 10 mindful movements that he and his friends have been doing many years, but I changed a few and added a few movements to make the series more amenable to my body … specifically, to make it easier on my back, hips, and knees.

The first 6 are the same as his, and I modified the 7th.  I replaced his 8th and 9th movements (since I prefer not to balance on one leg) with 4 exercises I regularly do for the benefit of my back and hips (which are the new 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th movements).  And the 12th movement is essentially the same as Thay’s final movement (Thay is the name his friends call him), however I do it at only a 45 degree angle, and I made it more of a Tai Chi “heaven and earth” stretch.  I hope you enjoy them.

The 12 mindful movements are rooted in breathing.  They help bring the body and mind together, and help you live more fully in the present moment.  Stay balanced.  Breathe into your belly, and enjoy your breathing.  Remember to smile.

1. Breathe in and lift arms, stretch forward.  Breathe out and lower arms.  Do 3 times.
2. Breathe in and lift arms to sky, stretch upward.  Breathe out and lower arms.  Do 3 times.
3. Place fingertips on shoulders, breathe in and bloom like a flower.  Breathe out and return fingertips to shoulders.  Do 3 times.
4. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width.  Breathe in while making half circle with arms, breathe out while completing the circle.  Reverse direction and complete another circle.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
5. Bend over and drop arms to earth.  Breathe in and raise arms to sky, stretch upward.  Breathe out and drop arms to earth, stretch downward.  Do 3 times.
6. Put hands on hips.  Bend forward and breathe in while making half circle with upper body, and at the point you are leaning back breathe out while completing the circle.  Reverse direction and complete another circle.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
7. Breathe in to stand on tippy toes, breathe out while squatting and extending arms.  Do 3 times.
8. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while pulling knees to chest.  Do 3 times.
9. Sit on floor with right leg extended, breathe in with legs crossed and left foot at right knee.  Breathe out while twisting back to right.  Reverse and twist back to left.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
10. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while pulling right leg up and over for hip stretch.  Reverse and pull left leg up and over.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
11. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while doing stomach crunch.  Repeat at least 12 times.
12. Step right and forward at a 45 degree angle.  Breathe in while bending knee, lifting right hand to sky, and extending left hand to earth.  Breathe out and return to starting position.  Do 3 times.  Reverse, and do 3 more times.

Bow and give thanks with a smile.

Also posted in #spirituality

Keep It Positive!

I spent a lot of time in my 30s absorbing the teachings of the personal growth movement, going against the grain of Evangelical Christianity to listen to people like Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, Anthony Roberts, and many others. Other positive thinkers were considered safe and not a threat to your spiritual life, people like Zig Ziglar, Denis Waitley, Robert Schuller, Brian Tracy and the like.

But I never felt threatened by anything I heard … and I would not necessarily agree with everything that someone taught. I rather enjoyed hearing many different kinds of ideas.

Here is an example of an idea that might get you to thinking, I am not certain but I think I first heard this on a Deepak Chopra tape:

Every cell in the body dies and is regenerated approximately every 4 years, so the body you have now is not the same body of cells that you had, say, five years ago. So, if every cell in your brain has died and been regenerated, then mind is not something that is physical … it is meta-physical (i.e. beyond the physical body). And with my apologies to Deepak should he not be the one who taught this, or should I not remember correctly the key point of this concept … if mind is meta-physical and dwells in the realm of limitless possibilities (read, God), then there is no limit to what you can do if you just set your mind to it. Pretty cool idea, and even if you disagree with it, this idea will get you to thinking.

Back in the days when I was in my 30s, I had the good fortune of having a 45-minute drive to work, mostly on the highway. My place of employment had a huge library of cassette tapes for use by the Sales Team, most of them on “positive mental attitude” and effective selling techniques. Though I was not in Sales, I persuaded the company librarian to let me borrow any tape series … and I would listen to them all the way to work, and all the way home. I listened to virtually every series they had over several months, and it was a fantastic time of learning for me.

I still do the same thing today, although the CD – I have since graduated from cassette tapes – that is in my player now is the Rosetta Stone audio companion to the Spanish (Latin America) language learning program I am taking.

I’m not sure how I got on this path, but growing up there were some very negative people in my life. And negative people can sap the life out of you, if you let them. Something inside me, probably the voice of God, taught me that I don’t have to believe or embrace the negativity of any other person. The hard part is rejecting their negativity, but doing it in a loving manner. Peaceful interpersonal relations are not always possible, however, because there are many negative people who are so intent on living in negativity (or so practiced at it), that when they realize that you won’t wallow in the muck with them, they feel rejected and lash out. Sometimes it can be a delicate balancing act, empathizing with someone in their disillusionment, negativity, or depression, while at the same time staying positive and offering encouragement and instilling hope.

Call me Pollyanna, but I just don’t want to dwell on the negative, I don’t want to be around negative people, and I don’t want to even hear negative things. Sometimes people feel that they are being helpful by sharing negative information, such as medical research that states if you have these symptoms or these readings or this physical manifestation, then you are 60% more likely to … have a stroke, be debilitated, or die. Don’t even share that shit with me, if you want to read and let seep into your mind negative thoughts … than keep it to yourself. I want to hear things like:

  • “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” Helen Keller
  • “Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.” Grace Hansen
  • “Trust your hopes not your fears.” David Mahoney
  • “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” James M. Barrie
  • “There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” Wayne Dyer
  • “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Jesus of Nazareth
  • “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Remember, People, Keep it Positive!