Saturday, February 28, 2015

MISSING DOG ALERT!

Readers in the Chicago Area:

Some friends of ours have lost their dog, a female Jack Russell terrier, named Lexy.  She bolted in the area of Chicago Ave. and Austin Ave. in Chicago.

This dog is greatly loved by her family, and they could desperately use your help in finding her.

PLEASE CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY IF YOU SEE LEXY!



Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pearls Before Swine


So, I have written before about people's gratitude, or lack thereof, and how one should never expect even a modicum of decency from others, no matter how much you give.  Not because you don't deserve it, but because it will rarely happen, and continuing to give is the right thing to do, for yourself and for the rest of society.

Nonetheless, it is damned hard to do, sometimes.

The title of this post is a well-known phrase, and a reference to Matthew 7:6, part of the Sermon on the Mount, which reads as follows:

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

At first glance this seems to be inconsistent with the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.  While I believe that Matthew 7:6 was Jesus' call to his followers not to allow their beliefs, faith, and relationship with Christ to be set-upon and torn apart by those outside the Christian community, the plain language seems to say - stop being foolish and continuing to give of your best to those who could never appreciate it.

Most people, including me, usually interpret the "pearls before swine" thing, I think, in the second way.

So, when I'm feeling particularly unappreciated, and feel I'm being torn apart by the swine, I try to keep two things in mind:

First, I'm not the only one with pearls to offer.  Everyone has the ability to offer something good, beautiful and holy to another, if only a simple act of caring and compassion.  You and I are not the only ones out there trying to do good, as we can.

Second, we are all, sometimes, swine.  None of us fully and constantly appreciate all of the things we have been given, all of the beautiful things in our lives.  It would be hypocritical to condemn others for their lack of gratitude, if I'm not fully grateful myself.

I can't control the behavior of others, but I can certainly do my best to control my own.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to take a moment to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of my family, friends, and anyone who reads this.  I hope you all receive every blessing you hope for in this holiday season, and I hope you all have the strength and support in your lives to enable you to manifest those blessings in your life.

While I know that not everyone who reads this subscribes to the Christian religion, or any religion at all, I think that we should all take a moment to think about what this holiday represents.  For Christians, this should be obvious: the Birth of a Savior, One to bring Hope, Peace and Joy into the world.

If you aren't a Christian, perhaps the message can still be there during the holidays.  Look around you, and see the opportunity to extend love, kindness and caring to all around you.  These things seem to be in short supply, sometimes, in our world.

This holiday is most certainly NOT about spending as much money as you can.  Its not about consumerism, gluttony, a lack of temperance, or an ostentatious display of good economic fortune.

May you all spend Christmas surrounded by those you love, and those who love you.  Make that group of loved ones as large as you can.  That is, after all, what its really about.

Merry Christmas!

Love,

Tim

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Thanksgiving, of Sorts

So this is the holiday at which we are all supposed to take a look around, assess our lives, and be thankful for what we have.  That can be hard sometimes.  Taking a good look at one's life, and one's world, can sometimes be disheartening.  But, as I'm a firm believer in the "silver lining" idea, the following:

I am troubled, and somewhat scared, by some of the health issues that continue to linger for me; I am thankful for the great improvements in my overall condition in the past two years.

I am alarmed at the over-militarization of our police and the use of excessive force, and saddened people are losing their lives when they didn't have to; I am grateful for all the people who, in spite of that, lobby for peaceful change rather than riot, and for all the many responsible men and women who put on uniforms each day to protect me and ensure my safety.

I am angry about increasing government intrusion into our civil liberties; I am thankful that our Founding Fathers left us that wonderful document, our Constitution, which continues to be our shield in spite of powerful attempts to knock it down.

I am worried about our damaged economy, and a job environment that doesn't seem to be getting any better; I am thankful that I have been able to be self-employed, in a business I love, and thereby provide for my family.

I am aghast at the number of hours of life collectively wasted by people staring into computer and smartphone screens and video games; I am thankful for the incredible technology which has made live easier and more convenient for so many.

I am horrified by the loss of life in foreign wars that I don't believe we should be involved in; I am thankful for all of the young men and women who risk their lives in service of our nation, so middle-agers like me have the freedom to sit in front of computers and tell you all what we think.

I am frustrated by some of the problems my clients bring to me, things which could have been easily, in my view, avoided.  I am thankful for their trust in me to handle their legal matters, and the opportunity to be of service - truly, I haven't the slightest idea how I'd have made it this far in life if not for all of you.

I tear my hair out at some of the things my family and friends (that family we choose) do which seem to me so silly or thoughtless.  I remain thankful for all of the love you have shown me and continue to show me each and every day - you make my life worth living.

Most of all, I am mad at myself, thinking of all of the thoughtless, foolish, stupid things and failures I have committed over the years; and most of all, again, family and friends and clients, I am thankful for all of you continuing to choose to be involved in my life.

I love you all.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tim

Friday, October 31, 2014

Do, Delegate or Decline

It should be apparent that, in order to do everything now, you have to make an immediate decision about each task that comes up in the course of a day.  Do I do it (now), delegate it, or decline it?  This requires some thought, because the reader will note that making the decision to do, delegate or decline is something that needs to be done, immediately, as each task arises.  The system only works if you can make an instant decision, and to be able to do that, you must be fully aware of a few things.
The first vital thing to understand is your mission, an idea I'll try to develop more fully in future posts.  You will, of course, have several missions.  For example, some of mine are to offer the highest quality legal services, to publish and sell my own books, to keep my body fit and strong, and to provide a comfortable and happy lifestyle for my family.  But the concept, as it applies here is simple. If a task directly bears on your mission - directly - is it an automatic "do."  No thought necessary.  Do it now.  Similarly, if a task arises that does not bear on one of your missions, again, no-brainer. Decline, and decline immediately without a second thought.
What of the in-between tasks?  Those things that, although they may not bear directly on any mission, simply need to be done; for instance, making a doctor's appointment, doing the grocery shopping, preparing meals, and thousands of other little things that just have to take place to keep life moving forward.  These things are obviously do's or delegates - the trick is in deciding which.  Again, the solution is fairly simple, and admits of being internalized in order to facilitate an instant decision when the task pops up.  If it is something that requires a special skill or ability that you have, or something that you do better than any of the people you could delegate it to, do it, right now. Otherwise, delegate.  Some examples from my own life may assist in making my point clearer.
The grocery shopping.  Delegate.  Why, because I have no special skill in buying groceries, and it is a task that my wife or one of my kids could complete at least as well as I could.  Therefore, it gets delegated, instantly, and I gave it no further thought.  However, if my wife had come to me to tell me the kids were hungry, and that food she bought needed to be cooked, that would have been an instant "do."  In my house, I am the one that enjoys cooking and I am quite good at it.  My wife never learned, and doesn't care to learn.  Similarly, if one of the children needs to be driven somewhere (school, a friend's house), well, my wife is at least as capable of piloting an automobile as I am. Consider it delegated.  However, my wife is not comfortable speaking or understanding advanced concepts in English, as it is not her first language.  So when it comes to the doctor's appointments, those are a "do" for me, as it is important to fully grasp what a physician tells you about your health or that of your loved ones.
And for those of you completely on your own, with nobody to delegate to?  You'd best re-read my recent post about Putting in the Time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Focus

You're going to have to work long hours, but not all hours are created equal.  The hours you want are the ones in which you are really moving, really getting things done, and not just busy work, but important tasks, at the core of accomplishing one of your missions.  In order to have any time like this you will need focus; that is, the ability to concentrate on the task at hand, and keep pushing through the distractions to actually accomplish something of fundamental significance.  I was fortunate, in that I was born with an almost praeternatural ability to focus on one task, to the total exclusion of everything going on around me.  The bad news is, not all people are born with focus. The good news is, that the ability can be cultivated, and improved upon - always improved upon.

As is often the case, the method is simple to understand, but difficult to actually do.  In this case, utilize a variety of the "practice makes perfect" method in order to train up your ability to focus.  It works like this:  surround yourself by as many distractions as you can, then get to work.  I realize this flies in the face of accepted "wisdom" about productivity.  Almost everyone tells you to find a quiet place, meditate, clear your mind, make your workplace free of distractions, and get to it. Then again, the accepted "wisdom" produces generation after generation of mediocrities - not exactly the goal here.

The typical method makes two large errors in its plan, which result in failure to improve focus in any measurable way.  The most obvious is that, life just doesn't work that way.  Life doesn't provide you each day with the opportunity to get Zen, clear your mind and your desk, and just have one thing on your plate at any given time.  Rather, life requires you to deal with the phone, the wife, the kids, the neighbor, the car, and whatever the hell else pops up.  The traditional "clear your mind" nonsense will only teach you how to be productive under perfect conditions.  Perfect conditions rarely flash into existence, and when they do, they never, ever last long.  The second problem will be one recognized by athletes and weightlifters everywhere - no pain, no gain.  In order to improve a skill, a muscle, anything, you need to stress it - expose it to ever increasing levels of difficulty, so that it gradually improves to meet each new level of challenge.  Its not difficult to focus in a perfect, quiet environment.  It is very hard to do so in the context of a typical, hectic day.  Therefore, that is when your ability to focus can be strengthened.

Subject yourself, everyday, to the most challenging environment you can.  Don't wait for just the right time to accomplish something - accomplish something now.  I routinely write with five kids and their friends screeching about the house, two TVs on, music playing, dogs barking.  That's Zen.  That's the way to focus.  I know it sounds strange, but as the great Robert Anton Wilson said, "Do it, everyday."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Contact Me!

I just added a contact form to the front page of this blog.

The only thing I like better than writing about these things, is discussing these things with people.

Please feel free to send me a message through the contact form, or call me on Google Hangouts!