How To Get The First Time Done

First time for anything is a little bit scary. Sometimes immovably scary, scared stiff.

However, life is filled with first times. The fewer firsts that we experience, the fewer things we accomplish.

What prepares a person to face firsts with a calm determination?

I remember the first time I kissed a girl.
My heart was pounding, my face was red, I was sweating and trembling. I had no idea what would happen. What would it feel like? How would the girl respond? Would it be just like kissing my mother?

I was in the third grade. I had written “Love Notes” to her many times.
Dear Muriel,
I love you.
Do you love me?
Check ____ Yes or ____ No.

My friend Richard had dared me. I knew I had the ability to kiss. I knew that Muriel had checked Yes many times that year. I believed she would let me kiss her. I wasn’t sure if my heart would explode before or after the kiss. But I was pretty sure it would indeed explode.
So I kissed her on the cheek, then raced for the classroom.
This was a time in American Education when the teacher sent the kids out for recess, while she stayed inside. Simpler days!
It was winter. A couple feet of snow lay on the ground. I took off my jacket, boots, hat, and scarf in the cloakroom, then sauntered into the room looking as innocent as possible.
She looked up from her desk, handed me the bell, and told me to ring it for the end of recess.
I smiled smugly at Richard as he came in, but blushed when Muriel walked past me with a coy grin on her face.

First times!
I think I can guarantee two facts about First Times:
1. You will remember it, probably for the rest of your life;
2. You were scared.

Maybe there’s a third thing to ‘guarantee’ :
3. You were proud of the accomplishment.

With some of Life’s Firsts you may have later realized you should have been embarrassed.
But, not in the moment of victory.

This is supposed to be a “How To” – not a trip down Memory Lane.
So, here goes…

Actually the Memory Lane trip above is the First “How To.”

Dig into your Memory for the record of the successes that you have experienced. Every one of those successes is a preparation for another Victory, with another First.

Human logic says, “If you could do that, then you can do this!”
Relive the feelings, both scared and victorious feelings. Pull them up in your mind and rehearse them as you plan for the effort on a new First.

It is not a surprise to you that not all of your attempts at a First Time ended with a victory lap.
Everyone has experienced failure.
Failure is both bad and good.
While it makes us feel bad, maybe even look bad to important people, the failure experiences hold a lot of important learning opportunities.
Make the failure as important as the success.
Analyze the thinking you did, the preparations you made, the things you said and did, who you included as your team, your performance in the Doing, responses from important people during and after the event.
Learn from both the good and the bad. Resolve not to repeat the bad. See if a second chance is available and desired.

Modify yourself and your preparations and Try Again.

Success in a 3 Act Play.

Influences on My Life

Muriel moved back to Vermont.
My family moved to Florida.
New friends.
New courage to muster.
New girls to write notes to.

I’m sure that I developed some courage for new things as a result of seeing my father take on life’s challenges.
Parents sometimes don’t realize the importance of allowing their children to see parental struggles, successes, and failures. But these are life lessons. Parental experiences can provide the memories for their children to pull up when facing the terror of their Firsts.

My sister taught me a lot about courage, too. Every day, every breath, was a struggle for her. But her courage and grace helped to shape me as I have faced life.

Bible Heroes have shared their courage with me as I have studied their lives, their experiences.
The Bible has shown us the results of poor choices in peoples’ lives.
The Bible also provides the standards, values, and Source of strength that we may all build into the structure of our daily lives.

Share a memory of a First that you have experienced.
Learning from other people’s lives is often easier than experiencing it ourselves.

Comments are welcomed.

Seven Spheres of Life: Relationships

At the restaurant yesterday, I asked for a Mango drink. Mango nectar and water. It was delicious.

As I sipped it, I began thinking about some of my favorite people. They qualify as delicious also. Without them my life would be less.

Naturally, I also thought briefly of some other relationships I have had. Bitter. Distasteful. Spit-it-out bad.


We have many kinds of realtionships.
Recreation team members
Church friends
Drinking buddies
Club members

And there are acquaintances – people you know casually, but don’t spend social time with.

How can I look at a relationship to determine if it is Mango delicious, or Spit-it-out harmful?

Do you remember anyone teaching you how to make friends? I don’t. Mr Rogers may have for lots of people. I grew up without TV.

I did learn the Biblical injunction: if you want friends you must be friendly.

In my mid-twenties I got divorced. Suddenly the social group that I had considered ‘friends’ were unfriendly. I don’t remember getting unfriendly. But, I was no longer included in the invites.

I worked for the church, I socialized with church members. It would be pretty accurate to say that I had no close friends outside of work and church.

No, don’t feel sad for me.

I learned a lot. I matured a lot.

Looking back at the experiences surrounding the divorce, I began to recognize some clues that should have warned me about the unhealthy relationships that wove around in my life.

Let’s focus on the positive qualities of a healthy relationship. By understanding healthy relationships, unhealthy ones will become obvious.

Maslow wrote about human needs and developed what is known as “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” an ordered list of five things that humans must have. Click here to study this topic.

Relationships occupy the middle position, right after Physical needs and Safety needs.

Good Relationships are the anchor points that enable us to feel good about ourselves and achieve our full potential.

Friends help us move into the Fifth Level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, where we are empowered to reach our full potential.

But it’s an obvious point that some relationships make us have negative feelings about ourselves and drag us away from “self-actualization” or, reaching for the stars.

How do I go about measuring a relationship to see if it is diminishing me or elevating me?

A real evaluation will involve writing.

Just thinking about it probably won’t accomplish the goal.

Start by making a list of your friends and acquaintances – a written list.

Then look at and think about each individual and your relationship with him or her. Take notes.

There are some simple, straight-forward ways to get a true picture of a relationship.

How do I feel about myself and my goals for myself after spending time with _____? (Fill in the blank with a name.) Be honest with yourself. Just get the feeling.

Feelings can be more accurate than logic.

A person may be connected to many parts of your work or personal life. But the relationship may be bad for you.

Don’t look at family connections right now. If you are in a committed relationship, and you are questioning whether it is healthy, evaluate your contribution to the relationship and determine what You can do to make it better.

Some times an unhealthy friendship can be turned around when you work on being the friend the other person needs.

It’s okay to change.

It’s okay to inspire others to change.

Friendships involve Giving and Taking. Both parties need to do both – Give and Take.

A person who only takes from you will drain you, and leave little for you to give yourself.

Evaluate your role. Are you balanced? Giver and Taker?

There are quizzes online that you can take to evaluate relationships. Most of them have to do with romantic relationships.

A good relationship has certain qualities:
Respect – mutual, both directions
Acceptance – of individuality, of differences
Communication – open, as equals
Self-control – emotional and physical
Value places value on your personal goals

Think about a friend. Take one of the ingredients from the list of qualities and assign a value between Negative 5 and Positive 5 for how that person demonstrates Respect for you.

Then take the next quality and evaluate. (I have a form in the Worksheet to help with this.)

Relationship Sphere Worksheet

The hard part might be what you need to do when you realize that a relationship is damaging you.

You can try to communicate with the person and ask him or her to change. But my experiences have caused me to believe that there are people who are takers, and they don’t see a need to change.

Sometimes there really is only one choice: end the relationship. Move that person to the Acquaintance List.

I’d love to hear your comments on this post. Positive or negative. How could I make the post better?

Thank you for reading.

Seven Spheres of Life: Health

You can have all the riches and success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” – Steven Adler

When was the last time you thought seriously about your health?

The last time you were sick, right?

We tend to take our health for granted, until there’s a problem.

Too often working for a healthy self isn’t a top priority, until illness whacks us and we can’t live our normal lives.

We need a plan for living that keeps us from getting whacked. Sound good?

Let’s work out a plan for ‘Healthy You’ that increases your enjoyment of life now and that reduces risks of health issues for the rest of your life.

My Story

My father volunteered me to be the 24-hour-per-day care-giver/nurse for a quadraplegic who wanted to go to college. The only care-giver.

I had never learned to say no to my father. So Jim moved into the dorm. And I with him.

The room was normally a guest room with a half-bath – sink and toilet, hospital bed and my cot, a chair and desk.

My life stopped. Everything I did was centered around and for Jim.

By the 4th quarter of the term, I was emotionally drained. Physically exhausted.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had slipped into an unhealthy funk.

My grades suffered, my social life was a disaster, and time for spiritual considerations was nonexistent.

But I didn’t realize it at the time.

That’s common when emotional health is at the root of being unhealthy.

After college I somehow secured a job at a Christian camp working to build a walkway through a swamp. The instructions given me were – here are the supplies and equipement – build it.

It was hard, physical work and that turned out to be just what I needed. The exercise and sweat were medicine for my body, my thinking, and my emotions.

I learned that ‘Health’ is a blanket that covers the physical, the mental, and the emotional self.

The good news is that focus and effort in one part of your self, benefits your other selves also.

Reasons to Get Healthy

How does improving your health improve your life?

Regular, consistent exercise rewards you in many ways.

  • Prevents chronic illnesses (cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases)
  • Improves attention, concentration, and other functions of the brain
  • Maintains healthy thinking
  • Improves sleep
  • Lowers stress
  • Reduces dependence on unhealthy habits
  • Reduces physical illnesses

It’s Your Move That Counts

Take that first step into creating a healthier You – #BestYou

Increase the amount of daily physical activity you do.

You don’t have to buy a Gym Membership. You don’t have to buy Home Gym Equipment.

If you believe that you are too busy to start ‘going to the gym’ for exercise, here’s a short list of practical modify-what-you’re-already-doing ways to get it done.

If it’s raining, snowing, or too hot, head to the local mall for a walk as you windowshop.

Exercise at home. Push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts, lunges, and stretching are good for you and are free of expensive equipment.

Take the stairs as often as possible. You might start by taking the elevator from a different floor than the one on which you work.

Drink plenty of water.

Sip water throughout the day. Drink enough and you have a guilt-free excuse to go for a walk to the washroom and back!

Staying well hydrated may also reduce feelings of hunger, and can often reduce chronic back pain.

Go for a family walk after dinner.

Guard Your Emotional Self with Intent

Nurturing your mind is as important as nurturing your body, and it will make you better able to deal with the stresses of your life routines. Be brave and consult with a mental health professional if your friends or spouse tell you that you need to.

Start Here

Work on Positive Thinking about Yourself.

Remind yourself of your personal value.

Read Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale, Og Mandino, James Allen. What these authors wrote are in ‘old books’ but they contain timeless wisdom.

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

Your thinking will either give you permission and power or hold you trapped and timid.

Everything you put into your mind shapes your life. The books you read, the music you listen to, the movies and TV shows you watch. Your reality and expectations from life grow from how you spend your time.

Changing your input, changes your output. The old computer programming comment was: GIGO (Garbage In : Garbage Out)

What you feed your mind will be reflected in your thoughts and choices.

Just as what you feed your stomach is reflected in your body.

Create a healthier mind and it will show up in your physical health.

Download a Health Sphere Worksheet to help you create plans for a Healthier You.

I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts and ideas with me.

Use the online Comment option, or email me :

Achieving Your Goals In an Onion Way

Success, at its heart, isn’t complicated. But defining success seems to be squishy.

Many people write about success, but emphasize different paths to reach the destination.

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Many claim to be experts on the topic, but disagree on what it actually looks like when you arrive.

Does money equate with success?

Is freedom the measure that counts?

How does traveling the world fit in?

I look back at my 50 years as an educator and see Success.

I didn’t get rich. I didn’t always have the freedom to do as I wished. I traveled little of the world.

I don’t regret my career path. I don’t see it as less than what I should have achieved.

Food might help to illustrate some features of success.

Stop right now and remember the best meal you’ve ever eaten.

What made it great?

I would venture to predict that you know friends who would not consider your meal to be even acceptable. What makes the difference between their taste and yours?

Your taste buds revel as they bathe in the juices and flavors and textures of cuisine that you have experienced by choice and opportunity.

My choices and opportunities have been different from yours. But my description of one of my meals as ‘exquisite cuisine’ is just as true – for me.

It all depends on the personal choice and definition.

So it is with success.

My definition may not match yours, but my joy as I achieve, is real and complete.

The definition, the expectation, determines the quality of achievement.

Achieving the goal that you defined produces great satisfaction in the accomplishment.

The most satifying Successes are layered – like an Onion.

I have loved writing since my early teen years. I wrote poetry and short stories and essays, but dreamed that one day I would write and publish a novel.

I created a definition of success many years ago that invloved being a published author.

I achieved that goal a few months ago. I achieved success – based on reaching that goal.

What next?

You know that it doesn’t take long before the thrill of achieving wears off, and you’re casting about for something else to challenge you. A new goal is needed so a new journey can begin.

For myself, I have embarked on a journey of Onion Goals.

The outer layer of the Onion is a short-term goal. One that I can reach soon enough that the anticipation of the reward keeps me working.


My weekly blog could equate to the first layer of my Onion.

But, one can write and publish a blog within one week. The mind needs more complex goals than that.

Publishing my first novel was a second layer. I already had the rough draft written by hand. Typing, editing, proofing and publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing stretched out for several weeks, but is now completed. That success still feels good.

Other layers of my Onion involve: publishing a Learning Podcast; writing Book 2 and Book 3 of my novel; creating a showcase website for my Nature Photography; a Teacher Skills member website offering CEUs around the theme of Excellence in Education.

As I accomplish one onion layer, I define the next layer to continue the challenge with a new goal.

I did not set this as my goal, but, I am now Manager of the Social Media outreach of my local church. This makes use of my photography skills, refreshes my video editing skills, and forces me to work on my social persona.

I also teach an adult Bible study class each week. These were not intentionally defined in the layers of my Onion Vision, but God has His ways.

Success, you see, is not a final destination. It is a journey. Sometimes it’s a short, straight drive. Sometimes there are valuable, scenic stops throughout the trip at learning stations.

Victory Celebration locations are also important to arrange and manage.

While my definition of success is different from yours, we probably have common portions within the Big Picture. I have three wonderful children and an amazing wife who persists in loving me. Those alone certainly qualify as Achieved Success.

In a variation on the Haiku style of poetry ( 5 – 12 – 7 ) a poem:

Life is like an onion:

It holds the nuances of savory goodness;

Sometimes it makes you cry.

Reach out to me through the Comments or the email options. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading.

Increase Your Stamina

As we continue to work toward achieving your goals, let’s look at some physical and mental abilities that work for you to reach your goal.


PDF of this post: Increase Your Stamina


The Connected Skill: Organization with its skills and habits moves you to your goal faster.

Disorganization is evident when you spend more than a few minutes looking for your materials and tools.

The good news is that you can get more organized.

I’d recommend that you identify a friend who is admired for being organized and enlist his or her help. Be open to change. Don’t get your feelings hurt when you discover that you have to make some changes to your habits.

The Connected Skill: Consistent Effort is a must to move you toward your goal.

Create a schedule on paper. Digital schedules and calendars are great, but a paper hanging on the wall will be seen more often and stick better in your memory. Plus others around you need to know, and can be useful to support and encourage you.

The Connected Skill: Persistent Effort is also critical in achieving your goal.

Doing the work once on a schedule will achieve only the weekly goal. Your long-term goal will require repeated effort over time – perhaps years.

The Connected Skill: Stamina refers to how much pain can you tolerate and still keep pushing toward your goal.

A lack of stamina is often the enemy that prevents people from reaching their goals.

The story is told of an old prospector who had been working his claim for years without finding gold. Finally he gave up. He traded his claim for 6 sticks of dynamite, went into the mine and blew himself up. The man with whom he had traded went into the blast area and discovered what turned out to be the richest gold strike in history.

We need Skills in:

The lack of these connected skills will hinder you, perhaps even prevent you – from achieving your dreams.

How much stamina we will need is hidden from our view at the beginning of a mission. I have been writing and publishing my blog for over a year now. I don’t have hundreds of subscribers, nor am I banking any profits from the work.

A Previous post (Stamina Achieves Your Goals) encouraged you to create a goal over which you have control. My personal goals are 1) Publish a post each week, and 2) that my ideas and efforts will help someone. I know it has helped me.

It is my opinion that stamina is the most important from the list above.

The Wall Street Journal published an article about research done to better understand the relationship between performance and physical stamina.

Mental stamina is where physical stamina originates. So the information from the research is useful for those of us who are athletes of the mind.

The feeling of discouragement in continuing an effort, whether mental or physical, is really just a feeling. The good news is that feelings are under your control, and can be changed.

In practical terms, by changing our belief about how difficult the task is, we can change the results of our efforts.

Research has also shown that what we look at influences our achievement. Cyclists who were shown photos of smiling faces achieved a performance boost over when they were shown photos of frowning faces.

Perhaps the most powerful and widely applicable technique for changing how your brain interprets incoming signals is to train yourself with motivational self-talk.

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have an internal monologue running through your head during difficult tasks, and it has a measurable impact on how effortful you perceive those tasks to be.”

WSJ Appeared in the February 3, 2018, print edition as ‘Head Games The Mental Tricks Of Athletic Endurance.’

How could this be applied to mental stamina?

I propose a 5-Step Plan that will implement findings from the research.


Suggested Plan

1. Establish a written schedule, a day or days that you will work toward your goal

List each day

Schedule all of your events for each day

Lock in a time that you know will be available to work toward the chosen goal

You might begin with 1-day of work per week if you need to fit this into a regular work schedule.

2. Use Circuit Workouts; break the work time into a Work – Rest pattern.

Decide on a length of time per session

break the length into 12-15 minute bursts of undistracted work

followed by 3-5 minutes of rest

then back to the next workout.

3. Plan Recovery time in your schedule. This is different from the Circuit Cycle rest time.

For some, a good night’s sleep is all the recovery time they need.

For others it might be a day or two between episodes of work.

I recommend building a Sabbath into your weekly routine. Take the entire day off.

Maybe go to church; maybe do a family outing.

God time and Family time are both important.

4. Feed your mind with performance abilities advertisements

Read the writings of Self-Help and Self-Improvement gurus.

Carnegie, Hill, Ziglar…

5. Push your perceived abilities boundaries

Your mind has a Limit setting. An “I can’t do any more” switch.

Push to do more when you reach that limit.


Think about areas about which you regularly say, “I’m not good at that.” Write a list. Begin working on one or more of the listed skills. Get a teacher to help you.

Pushing into the skills you’re not good at or comfortable in will create growth in all areas.

Other factors that contribute to a life focused on achieving your goals:

Diet, what media you use to feed your brain, how much time you spend with screen media, the types and quantities of liquid intake, physical exercise, your overall health.

Reach out to me with comments or suggestions.

Thank you for reading.