Quagmire – Getting Out While You Can

Although I’m not big on doing themes or a series with my blogs, my last few have all sort of tied in together. 

First, “Resolution or Realization,” points out that the reality of life is that it “just happens.” It does not matter what our great master plan is, things often beyond our control, just happen.

From there, I asked, “are you following the easiest path?” When life happens, because of our need to control, we often allow life’s “happenings” to get us off our own path and onto the wrong path, which generally isn’t the easiest. Once we get on the wrong path, there, it’s easy to move along through life in a rut, hence where I asked whether  is “your life feeling a little ho hum?” At this point, life seems to hold little excitement and we give into the minutia of everyday life. 

What happens when we stay in that rut?

Quagmire – “a soft boggy area of land that gives way under foot” or “an awkward, complex or hazardous situation.”

This is where ruts can take us. I’ve heard people say things like “being in a funk,” but for me, I think quagmire is better; I’ve always liked the word. Maybe it’s because I think of slopping around in the mud, which may be fun, but not necessarily productive.

I remember a time – actually several times – in my life when work was really good. Of course, this also meant that I was very busy with work. Naturally, this came at a time when the kids’ schedules were impossible to keep up with. And, some volunteer work was really starting to be very time-consuming. 

Each day seemed like a marathon

I kept telling myself, it would all slow down soon. But, then again how soon was soon? I would wonder. When I got into my rut, it didn’t take long for my health to start to decline. In addition to the stress, my diet, exercise, even sleep got totally pushed aside.

… Recalculating …

It would never fail, at some point before crashing – whether it was stress, diet, sleep, a line from one of my favorite songs would haunt me:  “are we (am I) rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?”

This lyric (from signer/songwriter Merle Haggard) would always cause me to stop and ask myself, what in the world am I doing? Is this really the life I want? It was as though the rolling snowball reached a plateau. Much like our GPS does for us when we miss a turn, it was time for “re-calculating.” I began to use these downtimes to reevaluate. And by doing so, I would recalculate the quickest way to review everything, and that included the path I was on. 

Every day we encounter obstacles that can throw us off course. Remember “life happens.” It happens one day at a time, and because it happens so slowly, it is easy to get knocked off the direction we should be traveling. And that’s where things can get out of control – fast. The next thing you know, like that snow ball, you’re headed for hell (well, at the very least, a quagmire!) 

Reflect. Reevaluate. Recalculate. If you do that when it feels you’re in a quagmire you’ll get back on track in no time. 

Soulful Quote:“Are we headed downhill like a snow ball headed for hell?” (or a Quagmire)

Song: “Are the good times really over for good” by Merle Haggard (Easy song to insert your own lyrics)

https://youtu.be/Gv61zBZacpo

Game Exercise/Life Changer: Reopen your Don’t Be A Cow! and thumb through it. Select a couple of days at random, or like Rachel and I do from time-to-time, start from the beginning. You can use the book over and over as it will help you re-calculate your route to make sure you’re on the only path that matters: Yours.

Okay, I really don’t like so called teasers, but next week is really one of my favorites as it offers/includes/hasone of my favorite days of the year. And that day, holds a secret to avoiding getting into ruts and quagmires to begin with. Can you guess what day it is?

Please share your thoughts and comments.

Your Life Feeling a Little Ho Hum?

As a forester, navigating dirt roads this time of year can be quite the challenge. This is one of our rainiest times of year and coming off a wet 2018 has made matters even worse.

When dirt roads get soggy, they get soft especially in lower lying areas. When they get soft, tires will leave impressions or ruts. The soggier and softer the road, and the bigger the tire, the deeper the rut.  Depending on the road (path) you’re on, avoiding ruts can be a real challenge. Often, life works in much the same way: It sometimes becomes a little soggy and we can end up in a rut. As with these dirt roads, these ruts can be difficult to avoid, and even harder to get out of, once you’re in one.

Now, you may be wondering what I mean by “life becomes a little soggy.”

Dog lying on bed with bored look on its faceThinking back to a rainy day. Now, think of several rainy days back-to-back. It can make one a little stir-crazy. I know that this affects those of us who love the outdoors more than others who aren’t so inclined, and I also know many people who love this type of day because it gives them the excuse to watch movies and/or sit around and read books; however, after several days of rain it can be a little depressing and mundane. Shall I say life becomes a little ho-hum?

Let’s say on day five, the sun reappears. If we are not careful, though, the “ho-hum” feeling will linger. I like to think of ho-hum as ordinary, nothing exciting going on. And let’s face it, sometimes “ordinary” can get downright boring. This is what I call being in the “rut of life.”

When you’re going about your day-to-day life, it can become hard to recognize you’re in a rut. Generally speaking, as with traveling down a dirt road, the longer you’re in a rut, the harder it becomes to get out of it. Makes sense, right?

So how do you know? For me, below are a few signs:

  • if you stop and think about it, you probably are.
  • if you wake and follow the same routine with the same attitude without excitement.
  • if you feel your life ho-hum or lacking originality.
  • if you are bored, you may be in a rut.
  • if you find yourself complaining about more and more.
  • if you frequently use the phrase, “I’m living the dream,” you are likely in a rut.

How do we get out of these ruts?

As with being in a rut on a dirt road, we just need to shift to another gear and brace for a bump. Metaphorically speaking, that other gear in a truck might be a lower gear or it may require a more drastic move such as shifting into 4-wheel drive. When these don’t work, we may need a little help from a friend or a passerby to give us a little push or tug. Below are a few suggestions that have helped me:

  • change the way you go to work.
  • change your daily routine.
  • try a different form of exercise, if of course you exercise.
  • change your diet; I find that we generally eat the same few meals week after week.
  • spend days off doing something different.
  • Take a long walk or hike out of doors.
  • talk to a friend or family member that you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Related: 8 ways to get out of a rut

When we change the physical things we do in life, it can causeour brains to think a little differently. Those physical things change our perspective and when we change our perspective, we change our lives.

Stay tuned next week when we discuss when our ruts can lead to a !

Soulful Quote:

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Song:

Readers’ choice. However, you must choose from a genre you don’t normally listen to and you have to do it for more than one song. Listen to several, over several days.

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Change something about your daily routine.

Don’t Be a Cow!

 

Are you following the easiest path?

If the answer to this question is no, the obvious reply is, why not?

Many people believe in the ole saying, “sometimes the right path isn’t the easiest one.” Maybe you fall into that category. If you do, let me expand on my previous question a little bit. If you believe you are on the right path, and that path is not easy, why in the world would you choose a path that is not easy? Unless you are some sort of masochist.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against work, even when is causes a few blisters or sore muscles, but when you are on the right path – your path – this shouldn’t be considered hard. So, if you feel as though the path you are on is not easy, instead of taking a deep breath and telling yourself to “suck it up” or “tuff’n up,” stop and ask yourself maybe my path isn’t easy because it’s not actually my true path.

Let me explain by dovetailing with last week’s blog. “Life just happens.”

Quote "don't follow the well worn path to regret. Follow your Dreams" with a hot air balloon on a lake. As life occurs, we often get derailed from our true path. Here’s how that often plays out: You’re cruising along through your daily routines, then BAM! life happens. A pathway obstacle has plopped right in the middle of your path. This results in a big change in your life, but you, determined to control all things, are bound not to let it change you.

You see, as life happens it’s so easy to lose our path and start following a totally different path. And it’s all because we are going to “suck it up” and forge onward, instead of making a small adjustment to avoid an obstacle. This causes us to lose our true path and end up on another path altogether. In most cases, our paths are not straight but curve and weave around life’s obstacles (life just happens). I like to refer to this constant path derailment as “life creep.”

Okay, so how do we avoid falling victim to “life creep”?

First, always remind yourself of your path, your true path, and where it leads.

Second, to steal a title from a song the Beatles made famous, “Let It Be!” Stop trying to control every aspect of life because, as we discussed last week, so much of life just happens; Far beyond our control. It’s when we become so fixated on an agenda that our paths get crossed and we end up on the wrong one.

On the other hand, when we stop trying to control all things and learn to “roll with the punches,” we are much better able to weave our paths around the obstacles that life throws at us. Thus, our paths become easy to navigate and lead us to exactly where we are headed. Remember, let it be! When you do your path will be easy and happy!

Don’t Be A Cow. Be Happy!

Soulful Quote:

“Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” Writers John Lennon/Paul McCartney

Song:

“Let It Be” by the Beatles

Game Exercise/Life Changer – Look back on your life, what have you tried to control that was just something that was not controllable at least not by you. A child, a Co-worker, a friend, or maybe it was a situation beyond your control. This can really be a test of self honesty which can sometimes be challenging to say the least but in the end it will help put you on your path. And that path is easy and happy.

Resolution or Realization? Which is it for you?

Before I begin, let me wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

We all know that this is the time of the year for resolutions. Some live by them and some want nothing to do with them … so I’m not going to say much about resolutions, other than they seem to be more pronounced this time of the year. Really a resolution is simply setting a new set of goals or setting a list of accomplishments … and that can be done at any time.

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans - John LennonInstead of resolutions, then, I want to spend this first blog of the year to maybe set a different tone for your new year.

After all, don’t we here enough about goal-setting and its importance throughout the year? I mean how can anyone expect to be successful if they don’t have a list of goals stuck in their pocket that they can whip out at a minutes’ notice. (I’m sure you noted the hint of sarcasm. 🙂 

Instead, I want to look at the realization that most of our lives just happens; that’s right, It. Just. Happens! Think back through your life. How much have you planned and how much has just happened?

  • Did you plan on getting the flu when you were on vacation?
  • Did you plan on getting laid off during the Christmas season?
  • Were you expecting that job offer that increased your earnings by 50%?
  • What about the close friend, family member or pet that left this life far too soon or discovered a debilitating condition?
  • Or, you discovered that you and your best friend could be more than friends?

Sigh. This list could go on forever.

It would be different for all of us, and everyone’s list would consist of things we all would consider good and things we would consider bad. The point is, that in spite of all our goal setting and lofty achievements, life just happens.

It happens to all of us.

It is not selective.

When you want to reflect on your own personal success, I propose that instead of looking at the list of goals you have achieved over time, look at how you have reacted, adjusted and refocused your attitude to life as it happens! I think you will find that those who can do this are those who have found success!

I will assure you, too, there has never been a cow that found this kind of success; Don’t Be A Cow and let’s all have a happy an successful 2019!

Soulful Quote:

Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I’d have to miss the dance” – Writer Tony Arata

Song:

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Reflection of your life, how much did you actually plan and how much just happened? Learn to embrace it as it happens because it’s going to!