Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Bottom Line

These are expensive times. Not as much from an economical perspective, although it can seem hard to maintain the life style we have grown accustomed to as the prices for food, rent and utilities keep rising. But reaching the goals we have set for ourselves cost more from an energy perspective. ‘Getting there’ takes more out of us than it used to.
Or so it seems.

Either way, it is a good idea to keep track of what we are spending our time, money, and energy on.

Over the last month or so I have been bombarded by ‘best offers’, mostly for utilities and insurances. I have found that it is important to keep in mind that the company making the bid first and foremost has their own bottom line in mind ~ mot mine. In other words, it pays (literally) to sit down and do the calculation for yourself. It even pays to make the expensive phone calls to other suppliers in order to see comparison bids. Only when you know exactly how much you are spending, and what you are spending it on can you make a well informed decision.

So far I’m doing pretty good with it...
I have done my due diligence, found my best options, and I have made my decisions accordingly. Money-wise it does add up!

But what about the time and energy it has taken me to get all the information I needed to make those decisions? This week alone I have already spent about four hours sorting out what is what... I have found that these four hours were high focus, high energy hours ~ in other words, they have taken a lot of my energy.
And like with money, energy spent on one thing, cannot be spent on something else.

It got me thinking; where can I save on energy expended? (And yes, money and time too ~ although I have to say, the ‘time aspect’ doesn’t seem to be as pressing of right now.)
It comes down to three questions:

  • What do I need to accomplish?
  • What do I desire to achieve?
  • What do I feel I have to do?
The first two are pretty straight forward.
It is the last one that gets me into trouble every once in a while; the things I feel I have to do. Usually that feeling is related not to what is important to me (or it would have been covered by the first two questions) but by what I think is important to others.
It has to do with values I grew up with. It has to do with things I have been told along the way. It has to do with things I think are expected of me...
But are they?

The bottom line is that it is a good thing to take stock every once in a while. To take the time to really see where you are expending your energy and your money.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Bucket List

Is there anything you always wanted to do, but never actually did? Something you would most definitely still want to do before you pass on? Those are the things you would put on the ‘bucket list’ ~ the things you still want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’. It’s a concept that first was mentioned in the 2007 movie with the same name, and that since has become like a benchmark to indicate which things in life would be so important to you that they cannot be missed out on...

So, is there anything on your bucket list?
Just think about it....
And if so, what are you going to do about it?

If there is a problem with the concept of a bucket list, it is its name.
In essence, if you wait doing the things that are on your bucket list when time starts pressing ~ like in the movie ~ then, at least the way I am looking at it, you are starting on it a bit on the late side.
After all, wouldn’t it be great to do those things you really, really want to do at that time when they come up? So that you have the rest of your hopefully long and healthy life to enjoy the fact that you have actually done it?
Or are you going to push it off a bit longer still, because there is no time for something like that? Or because  there is a tinge of danger in the thing you want to do, and what if...? Or because right now there are other things that need to be done, even other people to take care of?

If that is the case, then maybe the real question is if you consider yourself worth it to do something that is ultimately so important for you to experience?

There comes a time when we have to decide to make a choice that benefits ourselves first and foremost. To decide that for you too, the purpose of life is to have fun! That it is not only okay, but it is necessary for you to do those things that have, may, or will make it to your ‘bucket list’.
There comes a time to stop coming up with excuses and to start doing the things we really want to do.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give up anything. You can still keep your job, take care of your family. Even keep your daily, weekly, or monthly routines ~ at least for the most part.

There is just one thing we shouldn’t be doing...
And that is to end up on our own bucket lists ourselves.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Something worth going for...

Writing to me comes easiest when I ‘allow it to happen’. When I go with the flow of words that well up inside of me - just letting them out. In doing so, sometimes surprising lines of thought appear on the computer in front of me. Things that have been there for quite a while already, things that I never really gave much thought. It is just that now the words are right in front of me...

This happened not too long ago as I was writing the outline to a new book.
As I was writing the book as I envision it as an outline, it suddenly occurred to me that as I child I had known exactly what I was going to do. And it wasn’t as much a dream, or a phantasy ~ you know like a lot of children will tell you they are going to be a fireman, doctor, nurse, teacher etc. when they grow up. I may not have had the vocabulary at the time to express it succinctly ~ but I knew with a certainty what I was here to do!
I would speak to groups of people.

So why am I currently ~ this blog aside ~ not doing that?
What happened?

Life happened.

Between school, friends, study, jobs, family, travel, and not in the least the fact that, like everybody else I have to pay the bills ~ that certainty of what I am here to do I had as a child was put on the back-burner. In fact, for many years it had fallen off the stove completely!

And while life may allow you to ‘not remember’ something ~ if that something is part of your personal path of growth for this life-experience it will most certainly not let you forget.
At some point, whatever it is will be brought back to your awareness; for you to evaluate whether this is still something you want to do.
Perhaps you now see that there is a different platform, new technology to do this thing you always wanted to do. Or do you choose to not do it at all ~ after all, we do have ‘free will choice’.

On the other hand, if it was that important that you were certain you were going to do it, achieve it, as a child ~ when it then, many years later comes back into your life maybe ~ rather than pushing it aside again it is good to take a second look. To really see it for what it is.

I bet it is something worth going for!

Friday, November 19, 2010

If you build it, they will come...

Famous words from the 1989 movie ‘Field of Dreams’, where ‘it’ is a baseball field, and ‘they’ are famous baseball players.
And while the movie by now is a ‘classic’, the sentence remains: If you build it, they will come...

In a sense there seems to be a similarity between these words, and the saying that ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’
In both cases the desire, or frame work even, needs to be in place before things can start happening. This has always made perfect sense to me, for if there is no desire to go somewhere other than where you are at this moment ~ whether that applies to geographical places or in mind; whether it applies to education, jobs, health... If there isn’t the desire to make a change, to create something that suits you better in whatever way you can dream it ~ nothing is going to happen.

And yet, I can’t help wondering if in the fast paced societies of today, it is still true.
“If you build it, they will come..” Is that really all there is to it? You just set up the framework for what you want to see happen, and all the pieces are going to fall into place?
Does that mean that when you have something really powerful to offer ~ like a teaching program that can help a lot of people ~ you just create the program, and ‘they will come’?
Or is there more to it?

For starters, in the information-age that is this point in time you are bound to not be the only one offering a helpful study to the world. So what is it that sets what you have to offer apart from the others? How is it distinct?
And even if that which you would like to give to the world ~ how is ‘the world’ going to know about it? Through ‘word of mouth’ the news may not reach quite as far as you would hope. But even if you choose to go digital, there are no guarantees that your website ~ once you have built it ~ will be found by all those who are seeking for what you have to offer.

The question then becomes; what will you do to let people know that you have this terrific study program that is going to help them.
For the past 10 to 15 years the way to go seemed to be ‘louder is better’ strategies, where aggressive steps were taken to attract people to your business.
That seems to be changing now; moving in a more balanced direction where the digital media are used to teach people ~ and if they like what they are being taught, they will tell their friends.

So, ‘if you build it, they will come’ ~ but you better start playing yourself as well, otherwise no-one will know that the field is there...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If what we are doing doesn’t work...

At some point in our life we may find that for all our efforts, what we are doing isn’t getting us where we want to go. It usually takes a while to come to that realization, but then something happens that makes us fully aware of the fact that the situation we find ourselves in is (no longer) working for us.

The big question then becomes: “Well, if this doesn’t work, what can I do that will work for me?”
And so we find ourselves on a quest to find what we need to change, what we need to do different, and where we can apply our energy more productively.

As soon as we start looking at these things, a number of things are likely to happen:
  • We may become aware that our old patterns have different sources and are harder to break than we held possible.
  • When we break those old patterns, change the old tapes in our minds, the solutions we now see may be vastly different than we ever thought they would be.
  • We may discover that, once we start talking about our new-found direction ~ in any other field but the metaphysical or spiritual, making that change is applauded. Yet especially when there is money (yes, making money...) involved ~ when your path is a spiritual one, the reactions are more likely to be: “Uh-oh; her/his ego is taking over! Now it is all over, that is such a shame...”

Now, the first two are relatively easy to deal with. There are books on the how-to; there is the internet where processes can be found to handle things like this; motivational speakers, coaches, therapists ~ in other words, if you really want to change, help is out there.

The last point, however, seems to have to do with an ‘old tape’ that is more cultural. It is a message that when we are walking a spiritual path, we will be provided for.
For me, the first thing that comes to mind are holy men from pretty much all over the world, who are holding out a beggar’s bowl. And I am thinking, ‘They are clearly spiritual, if they are to be provided for, then why are they begging?’

In our modern-day lives it doesn’t work that way anymore.

Even when we are walking a spiritual path, we have bills to pay! We may have families to care for. And we probably like to eat a good meal at regular times.
At this point in time, not only is it okay to make money while on a spiritual path ~ the process of doing so is what helps us in our personal growth! And from that perspective, it makes us even more ‘spiritual’!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rats, Mice, and Tails

Let me start by saying that I really do appreciate all animals. Even mosquitos, although I have to admit I prefer them to stay far from me.
This is therefore not about the the animas as such, but more about the figurative perspectives...

There is a Dutch saying that says that every mouse has a tail. It means as much as that even when you think something is all finished, there is something still coming. It is usually referring to some kind of interaction.
There is also an American saying that says that when you see one rat, there are a hundred more that you don’t see.

This being said ~ I have been thinking a lot about rats and mice and tails over the last weeks.
It all started with what at least on the surface looked like an administrative change in my telephone subscription. How hard can it be to go from analogue to digital, right?
But just when I thought I had successfully wound my way through the bureaucratic process, and thought I had made it to the finish, one of my telephone lines was cut off.
The mouse most definitely has a tail...
Apparently it is easy to bring one line into the digital era; but not two.
It’s complicated, I am told by every customer service person I have talked with since, and I must have talked with pretty much all of them by now. Good thing mice come in large families.

In this process where I am explaining my plight to every new person I get on the phone all over again, little tidbits of information (that I am certain they were not intending me to have) leak out.
It appears that in this simple shift from analogue to digital, multiple mistakes were made. Where it started with one miscommunication, this became the basis for another mistake, and another, and another.
When you see one rat, there are a hundred more you don’t see...

In the meantime I find myself at a curious halfway point.
Not only do I have only one out of two telephone lines ~ halfway to full interaction. With one ~ the working phone line ~ that has made it to the digital age, the future in a sense; and the other line ~ the one I am working so hard to recover ~ stuck in the analogue era, and as such in the past.

One could state that when you are living in the present, in that moment between past and future, not many words are needed. Or, on the other hand, that being partly stuck in the past is holding back full interaction with the world around me.

One thing is certain, I can’t wait for this rat’s nest to be unravelled!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What do you believe?

If we are the (co)creators of our lives, our thoughts and our actions are what shapes and forms our lives. Yet, if it were that easy, we should all be happy ~ living exactly the lives we envision for ourselves...
As that at least doesn’t seem to be true for all of us; there has to be more to it.

The things is that our thoughts and actions are directed by our conscious mind, which in turn relies on the input of the subconscious mind. And it is this input that we are not always aware of; even though it signals us all the time. Through dreams, omens, visions, intuitive insights and so on.

The subconscious is programmed from the moment we are born, and is also home to our belief system.
And these are the things that are most influential in the way we create our lives.

So if we believe that we have to work really hard and make long hours in order to make a living ~ chances are that we will find ourselves in exactly that position: a job where we have to work hard and make long hours for our salary. As long as we believe the need for working hard, and the long hours to be true ~ it also will proof difficult to change; to find a job which allows us to make the same amount of money in fewer hours...
Now, this example is fairly straightforward. Where it gets to be harder to see the cause and effect of our believe system is when we start looking at things like self esteem, self worth, self respect.

Our quick, conscious-mind reaction often is: “Of course I’m worth it” or “Sure, I respect myself”. And while that is a good thing ~ the real question is whether, deep down inside ourselves we truly, honestly believe that we are worthy. Worthy of respect, to be held in esteem.
Because, no matter what we say ~ if deep down inside our subconscious mind tells us something different, ultimately, that message is what counts as we are shaping our lives...

And so we find ourselves living a pattern; and no matter how badly we want to step out of that pattern ~ unless we can change the message our subconscious is giving us, our subconscious belief system will keep dictating how we are creating our lives.

So looking at how we are creating our lives ~ we really should take a good, honest look at the things we  believe to be true. To ask ourselves the question: “What do I believe?”
About the world around you. And maybe most importantly, about ourselves.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Some time ago I have changed my telephone, internet and television subscriptions from their separate originals into an ‘all in one’ subscription. Seemed more efficient at the time; starting to pay just over half of what the old set of subscriptions cost me is most definitely a bonus!

When I ordered the new package deal I was informed that the whole thing would take 4 weeks to be processed, send out, installed etc. ~ which was surprising to me, but no deal breaker. As expected I received the new modem, cables and manuals about two weeks into the process. On the day the switch from one to another would take place I installed the new and better system; for now adding to the ‘rats-nest’ of cables rather than subtracting from it. Yet, one telephone call later, everything worked.

As so often, it turned out that working out the details is where it gets complicated...

In the old set-up I had four telephone lines. Over time, two of these lines had outlived their usefulness ~ and this seemed the perfect time to discard the extra lines and numbers. Something that, according to the manual is easy to do yourself when you access your account online.
Taking this next step, I am surprised to find that the window where I should be able to make those changes is absolutely empty.
So I call customer service. I get the message that they are too busy right now, I should give them a call at a later time, and the call will be automatically disconnected.
Oh well...

A couple of days later, I receive an email telling me that my new subscription is working and processed; and any changes I would like to make in my telephone settings I can easily do myself when I access my account online. So I give it another shot. Still an empty page.

Another couple of days later ~ more than a week after my new subscription has taken effect ~ I am still unable to change my telephone settings. Time for another call to customer service.
This time I am being bounced from one person to the next ~ the third person finally comes with an answer: “It’s complicated”.

How complicated can it get? The whole process is automated from the moment the order is entered into the system ~ this to make sure everything is handled with the utmost efficiency. And yet, the (automated) administrative changes take 10 days and allow for an email to be sent out that says the process of switching over to the new subscription is all finished, when in reality it is not...

The friendly, yet somewhat argumentative customer service person insists: “It’s not that easy”.

It makes me wonder ~ does efficiency really complicate things?
Or have we, in our strive for efficiency forgotten that the simplest solution more often than not is the best solution?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Most people, at some point or other, are multitasking. Doing two things at the same time in order to get them done faster. Sometimes, the two activities are similar, and doing both together as one task makes sense. Other times the various activities in the ‘multitasking pool’ are vastly different ~ making it unclear whether multitasking is, in reality, saving any time at all.

There are different ‘forms’ of multitasking. One form is where you yourself are the only person involved with the multitude of tasks. The other form is where there are more people than just you involved...

It seems that one of the most common multitasking events is to carry on a conversation while doing something else ~ talking about something while doing the dishes, folding the laundry, watching TV ~ but also while shopping, taking a walk in the park etc. now that cell phones are everywhere...
And usually, this seems to work pretty well.

Have you noticed though that every time you are focusing on one of the activities, the other seems to stop for a moment? If you really want to get your point across in the conversation, your hands stop doing dishes, folding laundry; you probably even would look up from the TV ~ and feel a sense of frustration when the other person doesn’t look up, doesn’t appreciate the importance of what you have to say.

Suddenly, what started out as ‘multitasking’ has become an issue of respect for one another; and for the conversation you are engaged in. After all, nothing spells “What you are saying is not important to me” than keep staying focused on ‘the other task’ you are involved with.

And doing things while talking on a cell phone brings up other things that can be disrespectful, and even quite dangerous ~ but which certainly take away from your being aware of what is going on around you at that time.

So what does this say about ‘multitasking’ as an activity? Does it make multitasking ‘good, bad or indifferent’?
Or does it just create a division between forms of multitasking that are morally acceptable, and forms of multitasking that are being frowned upon ~ or even made illegal like using a cell phone while driving?

At any rate it shows that some tasks are more suitable for multitasking than others. It does seem to suggest that, unless ‘watching the kids’ is one of the tasks at hand ~ you should be the only person involved with your multiple tasks at hand.
And some things should just not be part of the multitasking experience. Like driving, or interacting with others.
We owe that to ourselves, and to others around us.