Ignatian Prayer, Hearts on Fire

Ignatius developed and taught his friends to examine themselves, their actions, and intentions, through prayer.

The Spiritual Exercises, The Examen, both came from the Ignatian approach to prayer.

Following is from a "Lunchtime Examen" I found on an Ignatian Spirituality site. It sums up things nicely, step by step.

The process is the same each day. The effect is timeless. The effect is GOOD. Give it a try.

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Half Full, Happy Anniversary, All GOOD.

I started this blog three years ago this month, July. At the time I was looking for a way to share some thoughts, some insights, and further the good in the world.

Not sure how much good I’ve done, but I’ve definitely shared a lot of thoughts. Gotten some positive feedback along the way, which is good for me if nothing else. And I’ve certainly learned a lot.

I plan to continue blogging, sharing, pursuing the GOOD in this manner. I’ve also got another avenues coming down the pike later this yesr.

I’ll have an e-book up in the fall, before the holidays. It will be a sort of coffee table book, a short volume, about being a new dad. It will bring a little humor, and hopefully inspiration, to fathers. 

 I’m also designing a short podcast I’ll produce and share periodically.  Same goal: share a little insight, further the good in the world.

So whether you’re new to this blog,  or have been along these last three years, thanks for reading. Please share it with others. On we go toward the GOOD.

Inside the Box, Outside the Lines

There are many metaphors that convey one of the basic dichotomies of life: that middle ground between routine and spontaneity.  The concept comes to to mind thus:  put your life into a neat little box that is familiar, known, manageable.  At the same time, don’t be afraid to color outside the lines and create something new.

This concept is equally applicable and examples abound at work, at home, and everywhere in between.  I think I counted a dozen examples in my own life just yesterday.

I’ve written about routine here recently. This topic is certainly something that is frequently on my mind: striving to be efficient, productive, responsive, and responsible, that’s the main goal.

The other side of the coin though is equally compelling; it offers the energy and excitement of the immediate need, and sometimes that particular spark that fosters creativity and inspiration, as well.  It breaks the routine, marches off in its own direction, responding to the demand of the moment, chasing the muse.

So how do we reconcile the two? I’m not entirely sure.  What I am absolutely sure of is that the two must co-exist. We’re much better off if we learn and accept and master the art of flipping between the two worlds.

The fundamental take-away?

Make the most of what’s inside your box, be able to very familiar with every item in the box, and be ready to paint the outside with colorful splashes from the rainbow when given the chance.

Snippets

When we talk about productivity, especially in a house with little kids and the chaotic, spontaneous environment that is typical, I think a lot about getting things done whenever possible, whenever the moment presents itself.  My wife is really good at this.  Or at least, she sure seems to be better than I am.

There are snippets of time here and there during any given day, where we have the discretion to do what we want.  It’s in these moments that we have to be able to quickly focus, review the open to-do list, make a decision, and execute.

The decision might be to get the dishes done; it might be to pay a bill; it might be to check an account; it might be to scribble a note to a loved one; it might be to take a five minute nap; it might be to sweep the floor; it might be to finish the article I was reading, or listening to the last ten minutes of a podcast, or take a few deep breaths, or go for a short walk, or…

It really could be anything.  The key is, are you ready?  Is your mind ready to make the most of the moment?

For me it comes down to centering and focusing,  recognizing the moment, and taking quick action.  That’s where I’ve been sorely lacking. I stay scattered.  I’m distracted. I miss the opportunity.

And so that’s where I intend to pay more attention from here forward.  I’m going to improve the manner in which I respond.  I’m going to take that snippet when offered, and make it positive, more productive, and thus…GOOD.

Drawn. Quartered. 

You might think by the title that this post is going to touch on medieval torture and the particulars of that violent protocol. Not so much.  In this case though, the concept of drawn, and then quartered, is instead a little spin on well-known time and worry management strategy.  Or actually two strategies, technically.

For me, one idea begets the others.  Here’s the basic thinking.

I’ve got a lot of different commitments and pulls on my time, currently. It’s gone on for a long while, actually. I’ve feel a bit of the tug in a rather tortuous manner during my worst moments.

As I recently worked through whatever the crisis was that brought on those feelings one recent day I thought, “Drawn, and Quartered…that’s a good image for my best practice and managing things, especially when it seems overwhelming, too much, etc.: ‘Draw up the plan for the day, work the most important to-do from each quadrant of your life, and go forward.”

The quadrant concept is an important distinction, for my thinking, at least.  I divide my life into four basic sections, based on what matters most to me:  my wife, my kids, my work, and then everything else.  The everything else rotates through the fourth quadrant:  care for my elderly parents, the service club I belong to, friends, writing.

So my basic goal is to spend time in each quadrant each day, to keep each area healthy, attended to, moving forward.  Of course, my success ratio varies day-to-day.  But that’s what I strive for.

After all, it’s in the planning, and then execution, that we accomplish the things we want to in the midst of life happening every day.  Remember, whether we plan or not, life happens. It’s what we make of the time that makes all the difference.

Motion is Lotion


“Get UP!” That’s been my mantra the last several years.

I’d been a runner off and on since I was a kid, up until five years ago. Ran mostly for conditioning when I was young, then for health and weight management in adulthood.

I even ran a handful of half marathons and some trail runs too.  Was running pretty quick for me, feeling healthy, all good.  Then after our first kid was born, time constraints and age-related aches and pains forced me to change gears.  Not much running.

Two more kids tightened things up even more. I had to shift gears. Running went by the wayside.  I had to figure out how to integrate activity more throughout the day.  Exercise went from an hour run to sprinkling more activity continuously into my daily routine.

Stretching, counting steps, abbreviated kettle bell workouts in the garage after the early morning dog walks, three minute walk breaks throughout the work day: all these factor into more motion.   And as the saying goes, “motion is lotion.”

I got a step (and sleep )tracker a couple years back.  The UP Move by Jawbone was my choice.  One of the cheaper models, but still did what I wanted it to do.  I could now tell how much activity I was actually getting each day.  I make an effort now towards hitting a given Step Target most every day.  Even if it’s not completely accurate, there’s no doubt I increase my activity level to get to a higher number.   I’m able to dial in my efforts to get better, consistent sleep too.

More energy, more steps.  Steps translate to a higher level of mobility.  Better mobility means more activity, which gives me a path to find and maintain a better attitude, better health, better me.  And that’s all good for me.   Try it.  Get up and get moving.  Might be good for you too.

Momentum: The Magic Potion

Finding a little momentum goes a long way.

This fact is especially when you’re sharpening up your focus to get sh*t done.  The approach isn’t new or complicated, but it is important.

Check your list.

If you don’t have one, write one down.  Depending on your level of motivation and focus as you begin, I suggest writing everything down.  The more items, the more focus you’ll have.

Consider the priorities you’ve got in front of you. Consider the time it will take to complete the various tasks on the list.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the list, be empowered by your effort to get it all down in front of you.  Once you’ve got a good representation of what needs to be done, it’s time to get after Number One.

My personal approach is to target a couple quick hits, items I can accomplish pretty quickly, to get some positive energy going in the right direction.  As you line out items on your list, you can feel the sense of accomplishment. Your focus will increase, your resolve to continue down the path will strengthen, you’ll be one your way forward.

So make that list and get after it.

The momentum you create will make the difference in your effort.  It will make it GOOD.