New Year’s Resolutions

happy_new_year_fireworksNew Year’s Resolutions

I hope you all are enjoying the holidays and no matter where you live, I hope you have a happy and festive new year.  New Year’s Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes. Did your New Year resolutions make this top-ten list?

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends

Recent polls conducted by General Nutrition Centers, Quicken, and others shows that more than 50% of Americans vow to appreciate loved ones and spend more time with family and friends this year.  Work shouldn’t always come first!

2. Fit in Fitness

The evidence is in for fitness. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better.

3. Tame the Bulge

Over 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese by recent studies, so it is not surprising to find that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors in sticking with a weight loss program, and the key to success for those millions of Americans who made a New Year’s commitment to shed extra pounds.

4. Quit Smoking

If you have resolved to make this the year that you stamp out your smoking habit, over-the-counter availability of nicotine replacement therapy now provides easier access to proven quit-smoking aids. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and failed, don’t let it get you down. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good. Start enjoying the rest of your smoke-free life!

5. Enjoy Life More

Given the hectic, stressful lifestyles of millions of Americans, it is no wonder that “enjoying life more” has become a popular resolution in recent years. It’s an important step to a happier and healthier you! Just get out and try something new! Take up a new hobby or try your hand at skiing. Go to a theater performance, or head to the local spa.

6. Quit Drinking

While many people use the New Year as an incentive to finally stop drinking, most are not equipped to make such a drastic lifestyle change all at once. Many heavy drinkers fail to quit cold turkey but do much better when they taper gradually, or even learn to moderate their drinking. If you have decided that you want to stop drinking, there is a world of help and support available. E-mail me if you want more details.

7. Get Out of Debt

Was money a big source of stress in your life last year? Join the millions of Americans who have resolved to spend this year getting a handle on their finances. It’s a promise that will repay itself many times over in the year ahead.

8. Learn Something New

Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new? Perhaps you are considering a career change, want to learn a new language, or just how to fix your computer? Whether you take a course or read a book, you’ll find education to be one of the easiest, most motivating New Year’s resolutions to keep.  Most local colleges and universities offer distance and adult education programs.

9. Help Others

A popular, non-selfish New Year’s resolution, volunteerism can take many forms. Whether you choose to spend time helping out at your local library, mentoring a child, or building a house, there are many nonprofit volunteer organizations that could really use your help. If your time is really in short supply, maybe you can at least find it in you to donate the furniture, clothing and other household items that you no longer need, rather than leaving them out by the curb to fill up our landfills.

10. Get Organized

On just about every New Year resolution top ten list, organization can be a very reasonable goal. Whether you want your home organized enough that you can invite someone over on a whim, or your office organized enough that you can find the stapler when you need it, these tips and resources should get you started on the way to a more organized life.

If this isn’t one of your New Year’s Resolutions, please leave a comment to let others know what you’re doing to improve your life throughout 2009.

My Memorable Blog Posts from 2008:

The Last Autumn Leaf

Beyond the Storm

The Calling

Harmony of the Worlds

Staying Positive in Tough Times

Turn Around the Negative Self-Talk

Anima Mundi

The Optimism Test

Flow

The Key

The Breakthrough


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The Key

buffalo2007_page_25_image_0001The Key

Jacob Vinson

I feel as though I am in a room of mirrors, yet instead of my own image being in them, I see several different people- several different aspects of my personality. I see the happy, the sad, the downright evil, and even the unrelenting kindness that I try to portray- as well as my many other moods and personality traits. I wonder how all of these attributes could possibly come together into one human being. Behind my grin, my frown, my smirk, and my warming smile, I see locked doors, all with compelling decorations adorning them. My smirk is the most noticeable mirror, taunting me to just give up and fail, fall into the darkness, and disappear.

I have the key to one of these doors- unfortunately, I don’t know where it fits, but I am certain it is for a door that will open and leave me facing in awe at the radiant beauty inside- a passageway that will finally set me in my place. When I pass through it, I’m sure that I will be totally and forever content with my life. When I do find this door, I will shun the bad things that my past has wrought, hold on to the good things and glide freely into the abysmal yet radiant gateway.

It sounds so nice, but realistically to accomplish a path to my correct setting, I must go through my life, morally face all of my emotions, and continue on my worldly journey for happiness. They say the journey creates the man, as does the man create the journey, and every journey begins and ends. It has its ups and downs, from seeing loved ones thrive, and others tragically perish. A journey also includes seeing nations fall and rise like the seasons, seeing the flowers blossom, grow and die, seeing the sun, feeling the rain, breathing the cold winter air, but never in vain– all in a seemingly magical and wondrous cycle.

The vanity of vanities would be to live one’s entire life without purpose, and I will fight to make sure that my own life does not end up this way. I have the key- that much is certain- and I pray that along the journey I may pick up clues that will eventually guide me to the end of my voyage- to a door in which my key fits.

As I said, every journey ends- some unfortunately end badly, but others end well. I have the power to control my destiny. I have the power to defeat the pessimism that is in my heart and soul- to destroy that demeaning smirk behind my hazel eyes and change it into a warm and calm smile- a smile that is content- for then I will no longer need a key- I will have found the place to which I belong, and in that moment, with relief, everything will be clear.

With life being so unpredictable, the two things that I would want most would to be able to live my life clearly and contently- to never have to worry if I’ve taken the wrong step, to never regret the choices that I have made, and to never doubt my next move. One day I will be free from the tangling grasp of anxiety and depression.

With the key held firmly to my heart, I press on.

Winter Warmth

Cold is invading my temperamental shell as I fade in and out of consciousness. Winter has arrived, for the night at least. I don’t really mind the cold, but there is an unmistakable lifeless feeling that encroaches me when I think of the foliage, trees- almost nature itself- dying. It’s still beautiful though, the cold is. It’s something that can inspire togetherness. One warm body can warm another in times of chilliness, and it’s that simple transaction- from cold to warm, from lost to found, from unwanted to loved- that throws a little spice into the dreary mix that winter portrays.

The sun is slowly churning its way away from us for the season as the winter solstice approaches. It’s leaving us temporarily, but we will continue to search for warmth, just as birds do as they migrate across the country towards the South.

Scientists can’t seem to make or find perpetual motion, but all they have to do is look around. The universe in itself is always moving, and will continue to move until the end of our time. It exists in nature as life cycles as well. Harnessing perpetual motion is an impossible ideology that we created to try to soothe our wanting minds. We cannot harness the universe or the complete cycle of life, but we can observe these things and use what we observe to benefit us to the greatest extent.

Flow

My paranoid aura is beginning to fade beyond my calming yet manic eyes- as I divulge into worlds unknown, tearing apart my world from above, analyzing my flaws and faults upon a melancholy backdrop of sky and ocean. The stars shine and glimmer about, flashing through unknown waters- below the vast seas I travel, wanting to feel the radiance of the sun, wanting to hear more than silence, wanting to forget my ghostly past, just wanting- just flowing in a monsoon of thoughts and worries- going with the flow.

No one tells you that the flow isn’t actually a flow at all. It’s a blowing, ferocious storm, and it is a part of you. Once you decide to let it control you, it will certainly do so. The earth is beautiful, but society is not. Take people off of the earth, and you have a living, growing – thriving world – a world that shines, smiles, and rebounds from its own storms. You put people on those shores, and let them fight against the wind and rain, against storms and hurricanes, and you are eventually left with chaos.

However, it’s not the people’s fault that they live where they do when these horrid things happen. It’s just life. It’s unforgiving, it’s cruel; it’s life – just life. We make life choices that change how we live, where we live, what we have- usually not what others have, and that is one of our greatest flaws. It’s all about us, not about anyone else. We close our eyes and turn away from the truth that some unfortunate people have to face. We refuse to volunteer our time and money to help something or someone that is in a less-than-fortunate situation. Why? It doesn’t benefit our income, our way of life, or our possessions.

Luckily, some people do see the truth- the truth that it’s not about what we have, it’s about what all of us have, and until we agree to come together- to fight, breath, and live as one, then we fail to improve our morality and our purity, and continue to dive into the realm of poverty and economic and global stress. Since we choose to live on this earth, shouldn’t we do something to help, just one little thing- just something?

My eyes close as I end writing that thought, still thinking, still flowing. Although hard, I’m trying to make as much sense of this world as I can. The world is so beautiful in a lot of ways, but so horrible in others. It’s just life, but hopefully the beauty will have its day to shine above the darkness that lies within. Perhaps the good will defeat the evil completely. Until then, I live on in a motionless torment, below the sky and sea, yet above everything. One day I’ll walk on a beach of pure white and sun- when the fight is fought and when the fight is won, or lost- depending on which side you’re on.

Regardless, it’s always darkest before the dawn, and the dawn sprouts life and warmth, which will heal us all, and perhaps bring us together for good. But, who knows, everything is chance, and in a world of chance, it’s hard to find motivation to live. That’s just my opinion, but I am optimistic that things will change for the good, and I’ll find my place somewhere in the world one day, once I’m out of this unforgiving flow. Time is the only thing that can heal us, yet it’s also the only thing that can kill us.

Time is almost as unforgiving as the flow of life, but it’s the only thing that you can count on to be there, when everything else stops, when your heart skips a beat, time still moves on, and it’ll bring you where you’re supposed to be. So just live for yourself, live for others, live for improvement, just live. Everything will figure itself out in the end. When the storm is over, you’ll land where you belong.

A Shameful Seed

Harmony of the Worlds- Pt2


Respecting Nature and Fighting Corruption

By Jacob Vinson

These flowers are dying every day, just as the morals of society.

These flowers are dying every day, just as the morals of society.

On the exact second that we were born, the planets were aligned in such a way that they can never, in our lifetime, be aligned exactly that way again. With this alignment, on your exact moment of birth, there was a sort of “harmony of planets-” A “song” made just for you. It is almost like the song that defines your soul- an imprint that truly separates you from anyone else. Unfortunately, Kepler never went as far as to look beyond the rotation and orbits of a planet too see what tones a specific time period would create, but rationally it would take several lifetimes to do so. Still, his research has brought forth an amazing mixture of planets and sounds. It is beautiful to think that everyone on the Earth is bound to the planets and stars harmoniously. Maybe one day we’ll be able to listen to our own “Harmony of the Worlds.”

The shore is a beautiful precursor to the flowing ocean that basks in the hues of the day’s end- the same ocean on which the day is just beginning in faraway lands. Faint piano notes and jazz riffs waft in the air even though there is no real music around. Nature tells a story of its own; it sings its own songs and encourages you to ponder upon their meaning. How we interpret this is entirely up to us. I choose to symbolize nature with a song- one that flows into your ears, one that compels you, and one that challenges one’s inhibitions.

The earth itself portrays a sort of harmony– and essence– that some fail to see. Darkening clouds are being moved by the wind, shaking trees and vines. The mere sight or feeling of wind heightens everyone’s attentions. “What’s about to happen?” They may say- “Is is going to rain? I hope it doesn’t. Ugh!”

Why complain about something beautiful as the wind and rain? They are both parts of our lives that harmoniously keep us alive. They are strong components, and can’t be controlled by humans. This is not our world, this is nature’s world, and we have to respect that.

I hear all of the time about people dangerously riding out hurricanes and other wild storms. This is completely ridiculous. Our lives are more fragile than some of us would like to believe. It takes days for a hurricane to die down. It takes a millisecond for a human to die.

This reminds us that we have to learn to work together and try to make this world a better place, instead of ignoring the increasing dangers. A corrupt seed is growing- evil, hatred, and disrespect are all growing rampant, and frankly, it’s almost impossible to stop it. But, my friends- there is still hope, and that hope is you. Respect nature, don’t be afraid to snitch on the wicked and corrupt and money-hungry officials and thieves, but most importantly keep an optimistic yet aware mindset. I’m sure all of us agree that it couldn’t hurt to try to positively increase the health of society and nature. It may be a losing battle, but it is truly a noble one, and if I died fighting for these rights, I would die I happy man.

Please take what I’ve said into consideration. I’m only 18, but when I’m grown and married, I want my children to live in a world that’s even better than the one I live in now. It’s up to us…. It’s up to us.

Let’s do this. Let’s do it together… We can uproot this shameful seed we’ve sown. Here are some websites that can help lead us to the path of justice:

Thank you so very much for your time- please comments with your advice and/or other links that I can add to the blog. This is no game, this is war- a war that we must win- for the sake of humanity.

We have to uproot the shameful seed our past generations have sown.

Good luck and God Bless!



© 2008, Jacob Vinson — All Rights Reserved

The Joys of Reading

Pax Vobiscum, friends!

What? You say I am speaking in an unfamiliar tongue? Well, you would be correct. Pax Vobiscum means “peace be with you” in Latin. I learned this, as well as other Latin tidbits in my latest piece of reading.

Reading is a fun, engaging, and productive activity. It can take you away from the normal daily stresses that life throws at you while immersing your mind into a plethora of new words, new situations, and new characters. A book can give you exciting new topics to speak about with friends, but most importantly, reading gives you an opportunity to expand your mind in broad new horizons, perhaps allowing you to find unforeseen segments in your imagination that spark your inner beauty.

I am still a teenager, so I tend to like a different type of book than most adults. I still enjoy reading and connecting with fantasy related books. The glint of a sword rose high in the air, or the tension of a well-strung bow still captures the curiosity of my imagination. Stories of Celtic folklore, medieval battles, and forbidden love immerse me into the crisp pages time and time again.

My current read is the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead.

Before you read- no worries, I am not telling you any more than the prelude suggests:

In the first installment, named Hood, Lawhead reimagines the tale of Robin Hood. Based on detailed research, Lawhead places the folk hero (whom he names Bran) in Wales in 1093, at a time when the land was under constant assault from the new Norman rulers of England. When Bran’s father, the king, is killed in an ambush along with nearly all his warriors, the land of Elfael is overtaken and its citizens subjected to great oppression. Though Bran should be king, he has lost faith (in both himself and whatever God he once knew) and decides to flee instead. Through agony and adventure, aided by a ragtag group of colorful characters, his sense of justice grows, along with his commitment to leading the people of Elfael and his creative strategies for dealing with the enemy. Lawhead examines questions of faith from both sides of the conflict, so readers see Welsh monks praying for deliverance and Norman rulers asserting their divine right to the land.

I am also finished with the second book, named Scarlet. These books are a true joy to read, and I am looking forward to the final book, which will be released in 2009. If you like good fantasy novels, you need to check out Stephen Lawhead.

If you are reading this, consider yourself lucky. Back in the 12th century, reading was only known by the high lords and priests of the land, as well as the few lucky who were taught in high society. Reading is now almost something we take advantage of. It would do an inquisitive mind such as yours good to start observing the magical world of literature- if not already doing so (and I mean more than occasional blog posts and internet rabble.)

🙂

 

Staying Positive in Tough Times

Optimism

Staying Positive in Tough Times
By Roland D. Nolen

We all know that the economy is bad and things are tough! Many people are out of work and many more are afraid they will loose the job they have. Given this poor economic environment, it is crucial that you keep a positive attitude. The last thing you want to do now is get a negative attitude or become “paralyzed” by fear! Don’t be like the woman, who although she was doing well on her job, became so preoccupied with the thought of being laid off that it started to affect her performance. She stopped performing at her best level. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy; her “fear paralysis” did indeed lead to her being laid off.

How do you stay positive and motivated? Simply thinking and saying “I’m going to be positive and have a great attitude” doesn’t do it. Motivational quotes, posters, or notes on your computer or desk help, but they alone can’t keep you motivated. You have to work at staying positive and motivated … every day. It’s not easy. You have to take deliberate action to have a positive attitude. You can’t just think about being positive, you have to act!

10 Action Steps to Keep a Positive Attitude:

1. Don’t fall into the “misery loves company” syndrome: If you find yourself participating in a “pity party” at work, politely excuse yourself. These parties are a fantastic drain on your time and energy, and they don’t solve any problems.

2. Avoid “poison” people: You know who they are! They are the ones who are always complaining, being negative, or are quick to criticize your ideas. Since you may not want to totally eliminate them from your life, just arrange things so you only have to deal with them in small “doses.”

3. Don’t watch too much TV: When you’re stressed or feeling down, a planned few minutes of watching TV can turn into hours.

4. Spend time with your kids, family, and friends: Instead of spending hours with the TV, rearrange your schedule and give some of that time to family and friends. I have young kids who think I am the “human crane.” Pick them up, carry them, and twirl them, you name it, I do it. I must admit there were times when all I really wanted to do was just sit on the sofa, but my kids wouldn’t let me. The amazing part, though, was that I always felt better each time after being exhausted.

5. Take a half-hour to an hour a day to motivate yourself: Read motivational books or listen to motivational tapes. I highly recommend the following:
a. What Makes the Great Great by Dennis Kimbro
b. Over the Top by Zig Ziglar
c. The Aladdin Factor by Jack Canfield & Mark V. Hansen
d. The Power of Focus by Canfield, Hansen, Hewitt
e. Live Your Dreams by Les Brown
f. If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me by Robert Schuller
g. The Bible: Even if you don’t believe in Christianity, there is a lot of morality to learn within the Bible.

6. Take an hour a day to become an expert: I got this idea from one Jack Canfield’s tapes, where he talks about how you can take one hour a day to become an expert in your area or develop other marketable skills. You don’t have to exhaust yourself trying to “cram” in new skills or expertise. An hour a day will get you where you want to be quicker than you think.

7. Try new things: Overcome the fear (i.e., fear of failure, rejection, or pain)! When you’re learning or doing a new sport or hobby, you don’t think about what’s bothering you. Last year, I tried snow skiing for the first time, and now I am hooked! Believe me, when I let one of my daughters (who had taken lessons) talk me into going down a “blue” hill on my first day, I wasn’t thinking about my “problems” while I was tumbling down half the mountain! My daughter later told the whole family how she had never seen anyone fall the way Daddy did.

8. Exercise: We all know about the physical benefits of exercising, but to me that’s just a side benefit. The real payoff of exercise is the mental stress relief. When you’re “gasping for air,” your thoughts are very simple. Most important, regardless of how badly you may feel when you start exercising, you will always feel better when you’re done.

9. Pray: It doesn’t matter what your religion is or beliefs are, you need to pray to ask for the help and guidance you need. I’m not an expert in this area, but I know it works!

10. Reward Yourself: Set small goals or steps, and reward yourself on each accomplishment. Don’t constantly worry or “burn-out,” take time to relax and “smell the roses.”

The key is to get your mind off your problems, and give yourself time to re-energize. The single biggest discovery I’ve made about staying positive is that you have to take action at your worst moments. When you feel so miserable that all you want to do is crawl under a rock, stare at the TV, eat ice cream, or sleep, that is the precise moment you either read (or listen to) something motivational, exercise, or spend time with your kids, family, or friends. Shortly after making this discovery, I was at church and as part of his sermon, our minister said “you may be having problems in your life, like financial or marital problems, that are overwhelming you, but when you are feeling your worst, that is time you need to pray and read your bible.” At that moment, I knew I was on the right track. There have been times when I had to force myself to exercise or read, and no matter how badly I felt when I started, it helped. Did doing these things solve all my problems immediately? Of course not, but they helped me to maintain the positive attitude I needed to keep trying. Above all else, remember that “this, too, shall pass.”

Author’s Bio

 

Roland D. Nolen is an author and motivational speaker on career success and diversity issues. He is the author of the book, Beyond Performance: What Employees Really Need to Know to Climb the Success Ladder. He can be reached at 630-665-4797, rnolen@core.com, or you can visit his website: http://www.rnolen.com.