“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times,
always with the same person.”
There are so many electives offered in high school and college curriculums today to help young people become successful in their careers. However, few if any, are offered on living a lifetime commitment in a relationship. When we were involved in the Marriage Encounter movement in our early years of marriage, we were invited to teach a course on communication in relationships at a local high school. When we stated that Love is a Decision and not a feeling it created quite a stir and tremendous discussion. Anyone who has remained married for over 50 years as we have can share many stories of the often times they have had to practice
“Love is a Decision.”
Valentine’s Day should be a national holiday because so many young married couples need a day just to focus on rekindling their romance. When you consider the fast pace of society, both spouses working, carpooling kids to school and nonstop after school activities filling every hour of the day, there just isn’t much time to focus on romance.
All relationships, including those in professional and social groups, go through three phases: romance, disillusionment and true joy.
In early marriage if romance is not evident the relationship typically heads for disaster very quickly. This is certainly evident by the high rate of divorce. It takes time and work to come up with creative ideas to spice up romance regardless of how short or long we have been married. One of our most memorable occasions was when I rented a room at a downtown hotel and checked in. I had brought Jeanne’s clothes and makeup to the room earlier. I told her our company was having a small gathering with the Vice President at a suite in the hotel.
Of course when we knocked on the door to enter there was no one there. Jeanne thought we were in the wrong location! I then said, “Let’s go downstairs to have dinner and then come back to our room.”
On the Marriage Encounter weekend we taught the value of each spouse writing a daily love letter for 10 minutes while apart and their sharing those letters with one another before going to bed. Fr. Chuck Gallagher was insistent that all team couples had to participate in that practice daily or they could not give weekends. Instead of searching for a Valentine card that has the right message it may be a good way to spark the flame of romance by getting a $1 notebook and spending 10 minutes writing what you truly appreciate about your spouse and why you would not want to go on living without them.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
“The happiest people in the world are those who feel absolutely terrific about themselves, and this is the natural outgrowth of accepting total responsibility for every part of their life.”
The gift of curiosity coupled with an urgency to take immediate action to seek new discoveries afford me many blessings in my life. A particular incident in my career comes to mind now. I developed my own creative marketing approach in my field. It was innovative, yet uncomplicated. I thought this tool would be of value worldwide. I was on cloud nine when I received an invitation to go to Switzerland to talk about this approach at an international marketing conference. It was disappointing to say the least when two European representatives expressed their lack of interest remarking that they already had their market share and there was no reason for them to put out such additional effort.
However it continued to prove beneficial to me and I continued to use that approach until I retired.
For some time I have been sharing through my postings some of the tools and ideas I have been implementing to facilitate a life of abundance. I realize many people have successfully used their own tried-and-true approach. My disappointment comes when I am approached by those who express a desire to make positive changes, but they do not take move to the next step, the action, to implement any of the ideas.
The following three areas that created both excitement and resistance to change have surfaced this year by my readers:
For many it seems easier not to deal with the consequences of debt, overspending retirement savings, and paying ridiculous interest rates on credit card debt. One thing I am proud about with managing our budget is I have never paid interest on any credit card charges. In fact I benefit from charging everything possible because I receive 1:5% rebate on all charges and I pay the balance in full every month. Some years this rebate will pay for a mini vacation that is listed on my Dream Board.
A few weeks ago I received a letter from the author of the book Feng Shui Your Life. She appreciated my passing on her website when I quoted from her book the tremendous success people are having with this tool of a Dream Board to create a life of abundance. On the same day I received a reply from one of my readers saying they still have not found the time put together their Dream Board. As I review mine right now on my office wall, I see two on the postings we have on our board that we have already manifested.
To think positive in a world that is focused on negativity offers a challenge for those who want to turn around their negative thinking. If you listen to conversations with family and friends, you can sometimes hear their predictions of a negative outcome long before it becomes a reality. They have become so accustomed to talking that way they are not even aware they are setting themselves up for failure.
The following information is paraphrased from the book I read Happiness Gene by James Baird, PhD with Laurie Nader PhD. http://www.drjamesdbaird.com/
It’s a leap of the mind to think that because a handful of scientific experiments have shown a direct cause and effect between positive emotional states and genetic changes that can change the course of human evolution by becoming a happier person. But really what do you have to lose? Anxiety, depression, Low self-esteem, destructive patterns of behavior?
And what do you have to gain? A positive outlook on life, consistent optimism, resilience in face of adversity, the ability to perceive opportunities instead of feeling overwhelmed by obstacles?
This book along with many others that I have in my tool box helps me when I begin to question myself if all this positivity can work for everyone.
Prayer is not about changing God,
but being willing to let God change us.
Often, I hear people comment “My prayers were not answered.” The two miracles for a major medical healing I have recently experiences came from a community praying together for a person present and one in another state. The first person of our prayers intentions successfully recovered from a both a heart and a kidney transplant and the second is thriving after a kidney transplant. Both of them personally took positive action to increase the odds of answered prayers. The road to these miracles was not easy for either recipient. They both endured very long and arduous months of ups and downs. But they kept “keeping on” towards their goals.”
Sometimes people get discouraged when prayers aren’t answered in the way they expected. I can relate to this in a very personal way. Eight years ago my wife, Jeanne, had a minor case of the shingles, but it immediately caused major non-reversible nerve damage. For many people dealing with constant pain for such a long time, they may have turned sour on life and cut themselves off from everything including preparation for family events and holidays, and all social activities. The persistent pain could have even affected their faith or belief in the power of prayer. Jeanne amazes me with her attitude. We are sensitive to her situation but have basically continued to celebrate life and enjoy our family and friends.
What I have experienced from this unforeseen challenge in our senior years has amazed me. It has helped bring out the best in those who have been praying for her. It has also made Jeanne relatable to those who are experiencing lifelong pain. It has influenced many, many people get the shingles vaccine.
What does this have to do with my tool box of resources that can help in creating a life of abundance? Having resources available can prepare you to make the best of life’s experiences, the good and the unfortunate. Both offer unlimited opportunities. Since I am a person who has an insatiable curiosity about new experiences, I have many resources I use to pray and nurture my spirituality. There are many free inspirational prayer publications that I receive daily by email. In addition to those resources, nature can offer an amazingly prayerful environment. I have a passion for working in the garden and that often provides my most prayerful time of the week. My daily grateful journaling helps me keep a positive expectation of life.
Prayer is the key that has helped me change my mindset even when it seems the prayers are not being answered, at least in the way I expect. It has taught me to accept the challenge and courage to keep moving forward. It saddens me when I hear words spoken by others that God must be punishing me, or God is angry with me because of these challenges in my life.
Several years ago I attended a workshop given by a friend Mary Jo McCabe, a spiritual intuitive, and these were just a few words she said at this event on prayer. https://www.maryjomccabe.com/
“God is energy, God is love. The life force within you is God and through prayer, you touch God by blending with this life force. It is necessary for you to recharge, to come together with this energy, in order to feel a true connection to life. Through prayer, you learn how to fly again.”
Prayer is essential and action has to be taken to assist in the manifestation of our dreams that we pray about. That is the reason we get a high level of success with our Dream Board postings. Remember Dream Board postings do not have to be focused primarily on material manifestations. It is just as important to post ambitions to make a positive influence in the world. On January 1, 2019, I posted that my blog would achieve a far-reaching goal of 3,000 weekly visitors. Today my visitors increased from 2,500 to 3,082. I am pleased to be reaching so many readers. Thanks to so many of you for sharing my blog with others.
“The simplest definition of a budget is
"telling your money where to go.”
― ---Tsh Oxenreider
I realized after taking with someone about their finances and giving them recommendations that at sometimes it can be a major challenge to implement. The lifestyles we are accustomed to living become routine. What works for me when I implement any new discipline is to focus on the small success. This celebration of any positive movement also works for me in the areas of finances, prayer, personal and spiritual growth, and relationships. That list seems to encompass all areas of my life!
When I retired my wife and I had worked with our financial planner for years to achieve our goal. I can remember at my retirement dinner telling everyone with enthusiasm, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” because I had achieved my lifelong goal. We were also eagerly anticipating several major trips planned the year of retiring.
Retirement was everything I dreamed it would be. Then a year later our country experienced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That event greatly impacted our investments. At the same time our rental property needed major repairs and we had just purchased a new car. Because of the lifelong discipline of working with a budget, I could more readily adjust and balance the income and expenses to accommodate the unexpected turn of events.
That is why I encourage people of all ages to establish a realistic budget. It is also important to celebrate each success, each accomplishment, otherwise it is not a rewarding discipline.
When I made the adjustments in our fixed and flexible income and expenses, I created additional money to pay off the loan on the improvements to the rental house and the car. I made a weekly payment instead of monthly and that accelerated the payoff of the loan. The lady at the bank commented, “You are really serious about paying off this loan!” I told her I have a plan and I enjoy seeing it work because once this loan is paid off this money is going back into our travel budget. I always kept the end results in mind and the opportunities that would open up once I accomplished my goal.
I receive a welcomed encouragement from what I call “my fan club of readers” of my postings. I realize I am preaching to the choir because many already practice what I share. If you are a reader that is already having success with any discipline, especially the area of finances, I would appreciate your sharing this posting with those who may benefit by implementing this tool for living a life of abundance. I will be glad to email anyone interested in the excel format I use for my budget.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.”
Over the years I have encouraged those interested in reducing the financial stress caused by credit card debt to establish a prosperity budget to manage their finances. The first month of a new year offers the best time to start this practice. Many people who have contacted me for guidance in establishing this practice but unfortunately allowed the necessary discipline to discourage them. Others who have implemented the practice are free of the financial stress that many are experiencing after the spending frenzy of holiday shopping.
The yearend statistics have been released showing the average spending for Christmas last year was $1,000 per family. Many charged these purchases and it will take five months to pay off the credit card. Christmas for the both of us has always been our favorite holiday celebration. From the very beginning of our marriage we started a Christmas savings so that we could fully participate in the spirit of the season debt free. Included in that savings was money to reach out to a family that was less fortunate as part of our overall tithing.
The way I set up our budget is to put all expenses into two categories: the first includes fixed expenses, house note, insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.; the second category accommodates flexible expenses i.e. entertainment, travel, monthly personal allowances, Christmas savings. This process has worked for us throughout our 51 years of marriage and has made it possible in retirement years to enjoy life on a fixed income.
For those who have charged on credit cards during the holiday season now is the time for affirmative action. This will help you pay off debt faster and prepare a 2019 Christmas savings budget. The first month of every year I review our budget and evaluate possible changes to best meet current needs and goals. If you are currently addressing Christmas expenses, the amount initially used to pay off credit card debt could, upon completion of payment of charges, become your monthly “payment” to create your 2019 Christmas budget.
For many of you this may seem to be a complicated and overwhelming challenge. Just break it down to a weekly goal and it becomes attainable. If you are in the national average category of spending for the holidays, just reduce current expenses by $20 a week and you will have a year-end Christmas budget of $1040. If you think this is an unrealistic goal just drive by and observe the long lines at the drive-up windows of Starbucks or Chic-fil-A. If everyone in those lines would change those habits just two days a week, they would create their $20-a-week savings.
If you know someone that is interested in having a debt free Christmas, you may want to share this blog posting.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things,
because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
I recognize I have been blessed with the gift of curiosity. That gift has opened many doors for me. It was very beneficial in my marketing career because I would learn about upcoming projects before my competition. If I were driving in my territory and saw trees being removed, I would stop and ask questions about the proposed project. Twelve years into retirement I am still curious about what is going to be built on a site under development.
This intense curiosity extends to all areas of my life. When something peaks my interest and I assess it to be beneficial to me I take immediate action to implement it into my life. I am often amazed that practices that have been part of my life for years are unheard of by people to whom I happen to mention them.
This became evident to me yesterday when a tax preparer called me to get the telephone number of a friend who is of Chinese heritage. She said she really needed more clients coming from the Chinese community and thought he may be helpful. I asked her if she had thought of posting the number of clients she planned to attract to her business on her Dream Board. Her response was “What is a Dream Board?” I realized once again that my intense curiosity has propelled me to explore and implement many things to assist me to live a life of abundance that many people have not been curious to explore.
Since I was speaking with a professional, I wanted to make certain I gave her factual resources to understand how powerful the Dream Board can be to help focus our efforts in achieving our goals in life. I directed her to a book I read Feng ShuiYourLife JaymeBarrett. http://jaymebarrett.com/losangelesfengshui/index.html.
On page 125 of the book it covers Manifestation Techniques and discusses the Manifestation (Dream) Board. “Each Dream Board is a visual representation, a blueprint for the success you want life to emulate. As you look at it every day, the images become imprinted consciously and subconsciously. You become what you focus on.”
You may be reading this and thinking you really do not need to do this because you are satisfied with your life. I firmly believe that as long as we’re breathing, we need to keep dreaming. A Dream Board can encompass all areas of your life. You may want to post creating time in your week to help others or increase quality family time. You may have a special talent that you would like to spend more time developing. Our dreams nurture our spirit and make life exciting. Dreamers impact our world!
Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.
My wife and I completed our 2019 Dream Board on New Year’s Day. It is now hanging on the wall in our office.
I was encouraged when several of our grandchildren called to let me know they were working on their Dream Boards. Reading about the statistics regarding why New Year’s Resolutions don’t last long, I encouraged them to start an annual practice that I know is successful. A full 35% of resolutions are broken before the end of January. Apparently, distractions and the busyness of daily life create the obstacles. In the survey taken at the end of any given year only 23% of New Year’s resolutions were kept.
Even during these retirement years things constantly happen in my life that distract me from my goals. As I stated in my previous posting my success rate last year was 50% in spite of the many challenges throughout the year. The following practices help me to keep a higher percentage rate of success.
Accomplishing a higher rate of success than the national average of kept resolutions becomes a reality because we are very passionate about those dreams. It is exciting to create experiences that enrich our lives and the lives of our family.
I am a very visual person; our Dream Board encourages me to keep moving forward to bring those desired experiences into reality. Those dreams could be easily forgotten if they were just written in a notebook and put away in a desk drawer.
Regardless of setbacks I keep the faith. Like most of us I like to have control of events and outcomes. I have to remind myself to “Let Go and Let God.” To support my efforts in manifesting these goals I often have to make adjustments in my strategies and priorities. That is not difficult as long as I keep reminding myself of my intentions and goals.
Whenever “a dream comes true,” I immediately express my gratefulness in my journal. We also celebrate in some special way. It is truly a gift that our family is participating in the Dream Board. Sharing our success with them enhances our excitement.
Now that holiday celebrations are over you may want to spend some time this weekend to complete your 2019 Dream Board. Making that extra effort can tremendously increase your success rate in accomplishing those resolutions for 2019.
“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” --Meister Eckhart
When we entered into married life 51 years ago the love and excitement we had for one another colored our ambitions and fueled endless possibilities for building the life of our dreams. We were blessed to experience several years of living out that dream. But in all relationships, it is inevitable that disillusionments and disappointments will happen. But in any committed relationship it is important to put forth the effort to work things out. As we were taught in Marriage Encounter, this effort leads you to true joy.
This past year has offered us many challenges although not specifically with our relationship with one another. But there were outside forces like major unexpected expenses from dental work, automobile and home repairs. A minor scratch coming from a fall my wife had caused cellulitis necessitating a hospital stay and then surgery on her elbow. Then on a less personal level there was the constant negativity in the news and the hostile political environment of our country.
So yes much of this year has been focused on solving problems. So as 2019 approaches I welcome the gift of opportunity that this New Year has to offer. Today is the day that I set aside a block of time to pull out many of the tools I have shared with my followers to create a life of abundance.
Every day in spite of what is happening in my life and in the world, I spend time to write in my grateful journal. I then read and reflect on several resources of inspirational material. Today I’d like to focus on the reading from
Daily Word. “I perceive a new possibility and make it a reality. As I enter the new year, I utilize my imagination to perceive possibilities that are not currently visible.”
Every year my wife and I write down everything we would like to experience in our life for the new year. We than select the ones that are most important to us and put pictures of those on our Dream Board. Since our Dream Board is displayed in a visible place in our office. We see it daily and remind ourselves what we are committed to make happen in our lives. The things posted do not magically happen, but often do manifest with our effort and determination. Looking at the results of “our dreams” for 2018 year some people may say this is not effective because only 50% of what we had posted happened. With all of the challenges of this past year I think 50% is fantastic!
You may want to take advantage of the positive energy that will happen at New Year’s Eve celebrations as the 2019 is ushered in. Spend some time during the next few days and write down what you would like to attract in your life and post that on your Dream Board.
“Anything you really want, you can attain, if you really go after it.” – Wayne Dyer
The following words are heard often during the Christmas season, “Making a list and checking it twice.” Unfortunately many people do not use this magical childhood belief throughout the year. Many self-help authors and even the bible support this concept.
Then the Lord told me and said, “I will give you my message in the form of a vision. Write it clearly enough to be read at a glance.”
Habakkuk 2 1-3
“Decide what you want, write it down, review it constantly, and each day do something that moves you toward these goals”.
I personally believe and seek signs before making major decisions in life and I write down what I hope to manifest.
I have always made a list of the things I want to attract in my life. When things would automatically fall into place, I knew I was on the right tract.
At a young age I had written that I wanted to own a house before I got married. I envisioned this house would be a double so that I could live in one side rent free. I stayed focused on that goal and fortunately I got a few breaks with investments in the stock market. I purchased my double within months of my return home from a tour of duty in the Army.
I always believed that marriage would be a tremendously important decision in my life. In preparation I practiced some of the principles I have shared with my readers. I wrote down the qualities I wanted in that person I wanted to attract and with whom I would live out a lifetime commitment.
A sign of the power of this tool of writing down what we want to attract in our lives was later confirmed and truly amazed both of us. Unknown to either of us was the fact that we both worked in the central city and occasionally went to the same church to pray for the same thing, the right person to marry with whom we could fully share our lives.
When I came home after being drafted and stationed in Europe for two years many of my friends were married and having children. I dated one girl that I had known in the past, but it did not work out. Than coincidentally or providentially friends of ours arranged a blind date with Jeanne for a company dance, and as they say, “The rest is history!”
Yes, 51 years later I have to say it was the best decision of my life.
In my blog posting last week I talked about the rocker given to me by my grandfather one Christmas. Check out this picture with two rockers under our Christmas tree. The other one was given to my wife as a gift when she was two years old. We both kept these treasured gifts we received as 2-year-olds and decided to put our rockers under our Christmas tree. This is symbolic of the many treasures we each brought to our relationship that bridged the gap of differences.
As we get closer to the end of the year and start anticipating a fresh start and a new opportunity to live life to the fullest, you may want to take some time to make a list of what you would like to attract into your life.
A great leader also has the ability to make people an inch taller in his presence.
N. R. Narayana Murphy
Throughout this Christmas season I have been given many gifts that did not need to be opened. They came in the presence of family and friends and time to visit with many we have not done so in years. Our time together gifted us with the sharing of great memories and future hopes and dreams. These are truly the gifts that will last throughout the coming year.
The presents we are given will certainly be appreciated but many will not be remembered several years from now. The memories of the family gathering together to celebrate one another’s presence will be remembered. That is why my wife and I put so much energy into preparing the traditional family meal with courses that were served by our ancestors. When our grandkids are served oyster dressing, dirty rice, green beans, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows along with the turkey and ham we will let them know about our ancestors who introduced the traditional foods always served on Christmas Day.
I was blessed growing up with loving grandparents who took delight in spoiling me, not so much with material abundance but by generously giving me their time and presence. They gave me the gift I needed growing up. They listened to me and encouraged me in my outlandish schemes and endeavors, in spite of my many childhood misadventures.
This year I thought about my grandfather and was reminiscing about the one and only actual Christmas present he gave to me. It is the rocker that you see in the picture under our Christmas tree. That rocker was given to me 75 years ago. I cherish it. It rekindles the good memories of my grandfather. He could have become a sad broken man. His wife and baby died in the birth of their 8th child. He was a farmer in the country and had no one to take care of the children. The family was separated, and several were raised by different members of his family. As a child growing up I did not know much about his history. I only knew I loved being with him. He was a very humble, peaceful man. He had an enthusiasm for life. He was very calm and good-natured. I always felt he really listened to me as we sat together while he whittled pieces of wood.
Since he never earned much money, he could not afford to give presents for Christmas. All of the grandchildren would sit on his lap on Christmas Day to receive a hug and get a crisp dollar bill.
In the society we live in today so much focus is on material things. An enormous amount of energy goes into getting the right gift. Unfortunately most people do not remember the gifts they received just last year. I am not saying gifts are meaningless, but traditions and stories create the lifetime of memories.
Christmas Day offers a great opportunity to share “our stories” with family and friends. It is also a good time to give each person the gift of listening and being fully present as each opportunity arises.