A Better Life

Just some thoughts on my life…and how I am trying to live it better

Archive for January, 2010

The Universal Prayer

Posted by Aaron on January 25, 2010

This is a prayer that was introduced to me a couple of weeks ago. I feel it is a very interesting and what I will call “whole” prayer. While long, I think this is very appropriate for what I am trying to do here, now, in my life, and applies very well. So I share it with you. Please read it, and take it to heart. Say it a couple of times in your days, as I will. Maybe we all can become better people as we, with the obvious help of God, heed much of what is contained in this prayer.

THE UNIVERSAL PRAYER (attributed to Pope Clement XI)

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end,
I praise you as my constant helper,
And call on you as my loving protector.

Guide me by your wisdom,
Correct me with your justice,
Comfort me with your mercy,
Protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
My words: to have you for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for you;
My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me:
In the way you ask,
For as long as you ask,
Because you ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding,
Strengthen my will,
Purify my heart,
and make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins
And to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses
And to grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,
And see myself as I really am:
A pilgrim in this world,
A Christian called to respect and love
All whose lives I touch,
Those under my authority,
My friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,
Greed by generosity,
Apathy by fervor.
Help me to forget myself
And reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning,
Courageous in taking risks.
Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,
Temperate in food and drink,
Diligent in my work,
Firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear,
My conduct without fault,
My speech blameless,
My life well-ordered.
Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.
Let me cherish your love for me,
Keep your law,
And come at last to your salvation.

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,
That my true future is the happiness of heaven,
That life on earth is short,
And the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death
With a proper fear of judgment,
But a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death
To the endless joy of heaven.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Update – 1/20/10

Posted by Aaron on January 20, 2010

So, Last week was filled with goals, and with those goals I had many “wins” and “losses” or room for improvement. I feel I did a decent job of limiting my exposure to TV. I was able to forgo the season premiere of 24, and limited my viewing otherwise. I did finally watch, over a number of nights, a movie I have been longing to see – “A Bridge Too Far.” This is an excellent movie, and for anyone interested in war history movies (ex. “Patton” “The Longest Day” “Saving Private Ryan”) this is an excellent portrayal of what happened during Operation Market Garden during WWII. I was able to get to mass at the Basilica 3 times last week, which is good, but was unable to get myself motivated to get to the gym even one time.
I took the day off yesterday due to some medical tests that one of my sons was going through, and spent some good time with my other two kids, going to a movie, and enjoying a big breakfast with them.

So, we are into another week, and it is already Wednesday!! Geesh, how time flies. At work I got a new computer yesterday, and I have since been working to set it up to my personal preferences. I will get it there! It will just take time.

I finally got to the gym this morning after a little prodding from my wife to get me out of bed along with my alarm. It was a good thing. I got some cardio done on an elliptical and some gut busters done on a couple of ab-machines. I feel good today because of it. Tomorrow I will continue!! That is what this is all about… if I fail, I must take courage, don’t let it get me down, and pick it up, and move forward. This right here…this blog…is helping me to keep this focus!

More updates coming, and more of my thoughts on stuff, too….sports, politics, religion. I am looking forward to it as I really begin to put a lot of my thoughts on some paper (computer screen)! I hope you can challenge and/or support me through your comments!! I look forward to it!

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The hometown team

Posted by Aaron on January 15, 2010

Now…just a little on the lighter side…

Sometimes people who know me, and know I love baseball are somewhat shocked when they ask me, who my favorite team is. They usually know that nearly my entire family (on my wife’s side) are MAJOR LA Angels Fans…but while I do follow them, and once considered them my “favorite,” they no longer are. I really now consider the Arizona Diamondbacks as my favorite baseball team…I mean even last year when the Angels came into town to play a couple of inter-league games, much to the chagrin of my wife and in-laws, I couldn’t help but to pull for the D-Backs.

Here is the way I look at it…throughout my life I really haven’t had a “hometown” as in where I was from, only where I currently was. I mean…my dad was military, and while we didn’t move a lot compared to most in the military, we did move a couple of times….My folks were from Iowa, but I was born in California, moved to Massachussetts at 5 and Virginia at 9. I stayed in VA until I left college…and since then I have moved even more…Tennessee for 8 months, New Jersey for 2 yrs, Virginia (a different part of the state) for another 5 years, onto Utah for a year…California again for 2-1/2 years, and now Arizona for nearly 3 years. I have been all over the place…and never long enough to create a long-lasting relationship with any professional team. So, I see no issue at all with rooting for the hometown team…wherever my hometown currently is.

I mean, if I go to a ball game, it is going to be a Diamondbacks ball game (unless during spring training) and where my office is, I look upon Chase Field (the D-Backs home stadium) every day. While I may say my “favorite” team is the DBacks, my 1st love in the game is truly the game itself. I don’t really care who is playing. If I am watching, I am just hopping for a good game. And I prefer the low scoring pitchers duals…or games with a lot of “small-ball” play. Home runs are fine, but I like the strategy of the “get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in” kind of ball – the bunt, the steal, the hit-and-run – or the well placed pitch kind of baseball the best. Most of the time when it is a slugfest, it is a very one dimensional game….not a lot of thought provoking “what should they do here” kind of stuff.

So, my apologies to my family in California, to my friends with long-standing single team affiliations, or all others who may be offended by my willingness to move teams so frequently (in my years I have followed the Dodgers, the Yankees, the Angels, and now the DBacks). But, when I can hear about a team everyday on the radio, read about it in the local paper, and become so much more affiliated with them than any other team at the time, I will always be drawn to the local team wherever I live…I am NOT a “fair-weather” fan…I am just a current hometown team fan. Go D-Backs!

And this goes for football, too. Go Cardinals, bet the Saints on Saturday!!

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TV and Prayer

Posted by Aaron on January 13, 2010

I spoke to my wife about the whole TV thing last night, and I think I came to the conclusion that I am going to drop all TV from my schedule, and if there is some free time in the evenings, after everything is calm, I can load up the computer, and watch any of the old episodes I want, similar to what Jay mentioned in an earlier post about using the TV only for Netflix. BUT, this TV/Computer watching will only come after other more important stuff is taken care of. I think this is a reasonable “compromise” with myself over the want to watch certain programming and time constraints and consumption it puts on my life. There is the Internet and even TiVo these days to store the info, and retrieve on an as-wanted basis….

As for prayer in my life…more personal prayer is needed.
Another idea discussed last night with my wife…for the past couple of months, as a family, we have been trying to pray one decade of the rosary each evening after dinner with the kids. I suggested that maybe in order to better dedicate ourselves to the Blessed Mother, we as a family sit down after dinner to start praying the WHOLE rosary (5 decades) each evening, and ask that the kids only have to stick around for the 1st decade, and then they would be free to go, and play/read/whatever quietly in their rooms while we finished the rosary. Of course they would be welcome to stay (our oldest, definitely would probably complete it with us). This would be not only be good for us as individuals (my wife and me) but also be a good example for our children to see us praying even if they are not there…

I got up early this morning, but just not early enough to hit the gym with enough time. I am going to make extra efforts to get there tomorrow am. – so again, a loss on that one.
I didn’t make it to Mass today due to obligations at work, too. – loss, but ok and understandable.

Some exciting news….for me and my family, at least. As any of you who know me, myself and my family are really into following Major League Baseball each year. Having lived in Arizona for the past couple of years, we always make it to at least a couple of Cactus League (spring training) games in March….it is coming fast! The 1st game is coming on March 3rd! Only a little ways away from the American Pastime being back in our lives! Lets see if someone can de-throne the Yankees! (Btw, my wife is an Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fan, and while living in CA I was, but now being in Arizona I have slowly switched over to the D-Backs – I figure they are the hometown team, right??)

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Be A Man!

Posted by Aaron on January 12, 2010

Before I start, I would like to thank those of you who have shown me support either with the comments left on the previous posts, or those expressing support on my FaceBook page. Thank you so much. Tell your friends about it, and maybe we can get an interesting on-line community built here…who knows?

So, in the 1st couple of days of this recorded experiment…some wins and some losses…
Didn’t get to the gym Monday OR Tuesday morning…loss. Need to focus on getting there tomorrow.
I did get to mass at the Basilica on both Monday and Tuesday…win.
I kept my diet (food intake/portions) to a reasonable level…win.
Sunday night I fell asleep to a movie…loss. This should NEVER happen. I need to create a *stop* time, like say 10:00pm
But on Monday I didn’t even look a TV…Win. Partially because of a meeting I had for Cub scouts and a good visit with friends afterward.

Hopefully I can keep up with the wins, and improve on the losses! Keeping the chin up!

One of the things I do on a monthly basis is attend a Saturday morning men’s fellowship group through my church. What a wonderful experience this is. I really receive a lot of fruit in my soul from connecting with and hearing from/about other men and their lives/struggles/successes. Of course I also share mine. What a great way for men to share their faith and lives with each other! I really am fulfilled by going to these once-a month meetings. I only wish they could be more often….

This month we have started a new book to review and go over for the spring months and into our Pentecost Sunday weekend retreat. The book is, “Be A Man!” by Fr. Larry Richards. It looks like a fascinating study for us men, and I am really looking forward to the reading and the discussions revolving around each of the chapters. We will be reviewing a chapter a month, and then using the final 5 chapters as the basis for the May retreat. What a wonderful blessing this will be! I suppose that as I review each of the chapters, I will be writing about what he says, and what I think. For any of you guys out there, take a gander at it, maybe read it with me…who knows, maybe we could also have an interesting discussion on here to inspire ourselves and maybe others?

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So, here we go!

Posted by Aaron on January 10, 2010

So, how to get to the ‘better life?’

Well…here is the deal. I feel to be able to live a better life I need to get myself going stronger in the right directions. Ever since I started seriously attempting to create and follow-through on ‘New Year’s Resolutions,’ I always thought of it in a 3-pronged fashion. 1) Mind. 2) Body. 3) Soul. The most important of these being Soul, but really all 3 are so intertwined that all must be worked on in conjunction. I will say I think, especially since last summer, I have made some pretty strong strides in the right direction in all of these areas. I just feel I need to step it up a notch.

I started reviewing my life and making goals using these three ‘basis points’ back during the retreats I went on in January of each of my college years, and some there-after with a church group I belonged to at the time. I so often didn’t get further than a month until it seemed everything ‘fell apart’ and I stopped reviewing what I was supposed to be doing, and I fell back into the ‘same ‘ole rut’ of my life…moving forward with no real direction from the goals I had once established. Now…older, and (hopefully) wiser, I am hoping with the support from various sources I will be able to set better, more reasonable goals, and if I fall away from those goals, I will be able to take another look, re-assess, reset, and move forward again in an effective way instead of just quitting, or forgetting.

I truly believe that we should always be reviewing your own life and setting goals both near term and long. We should always be mindful of where we are going, and what we are doing, and where we have been as a benchmark for the future. We shouldn’t have to need to set ‘New Year’s Resolutions,’ but, I do believe that if we haven’t reviewed our life and aren’t constantly trying to round it out and make it better, the New Year is as good of a time as any! So here I am.

I have heard my wife, who is I see as a very spiritual and holy woman, say that she likes to use not the beginning of the calendar year, but the beginning of the liturgical year (we are Roman Catholic), the begging of Advent as the time to make her ‘resolutions.’ So, this year, I used Advent (the 4 weeks prior to Christmas, usually starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving) to review, and try to establish some goals and direction for my life. This, right here what you are reading, is one of the fruitions of this thought. The particular thought being that I need something else besides myself and my family to help keep me accountable to my goals. While my thought on the actions I need (not want – NEED) to take in my life will be ongoing, I feel that through that time, and the Christmas Season, I have come up with some ideas and actions that I have already been working to make reality in my life.

The Soul.

So… with regards to working on my soul…. I go to mass most Sundays, but I need to get there during the week (I can go to noon mass everyday at a basilica here in downtown, near work), and I truly enjoy going to mass. I really believe that it is the “perfect prayer” in our lives. Well, now I do know that ideally mass every day would be the perfect thing….but I feel that ‘setting the bar’ that high would be setting myself up for failure. I feel that with my work schedule (I work from 7:00am until at least 5:00pm each day) if I could get to mass (at the basilica or not) at least 2 times a week, other than our normal Sunday mass, that would be perfect. Of course, more is good, but at least 2 days…and we will see about ‘raising the bar’ a bit for the special seasons (Lent, etc.). I have some more ideas for personal prayer, but let’s track this for the time being….I will talk about other things with regard to making the soul better later…

The Mind.

Hmmm…how to help make the mind better? Well…I feel this is one way. Writing this, getting my thoughts written down. Getting them expressed and hearing what anyone else has to say about them and see how I defend or change my mind about the topic. Some things are truth and some are opinions. Opinions can change…Truth cannot. This is a very simple fact. I think I know where truth is and where my opinions lay. As I go through this, I hope to be more fervent in Truth, and understanding in my opinions.

The other thing I have been toying with is the TV. Television occupies a lot of my time. Unfortunately. I do enjoy learning, so reading is appealing to me, but I feel I just don’t do enough of it. I feel I need to do more. TV shows such as Lost and 24 are going to be starting soon, and they are each shows I have watched pretty regularly with intensity since their beginning, and am actually excited about them coming back, but should I take the time to really watch them this year? I mean that is another 2 hours taken away from more worthy pursuits. That and I’m already regularly following a number of other shows (Flashforward, Brothers&Sisters, Grey’s Anatomy, and the list could go on…)…should I even consider wiping all of them off of my ‘radar’ and focus on spending more time with my family and reading about what I want to learn more about? Tell me what you guys think. I am curious. What should I do? Maybe there is a balance out there. You know. 75 yrs ago, there wasn’t anything like the TV and even the radio was state-of-the-art, and relatively new….maybe I should try to increase my non-viewing pleasure?

The Body.

A number of months ago I hopped on the shipping weight scale at work and was not-so-pleasantly surprised to find myself weighing over 20 lbs more than I have been accustomed to for the past 15 yrs. I have since that eye opening sight I have been trying to figure ways to drop some poundage…I was already overweight, but now…now I knew I was really ‘fat.’ I also was finding that with young, active kids had a tough time just walking briskly to the end of the street, little lone doing anything such as actively playing soccer or running after a miss-thrown kickball. So, I joined a local, inexpensive gym and started to go with some regularity last fall, but then my activity fell off again…and now with the new year, I am trying to get to the gym again. I am thinking that if I can make it to the gym 3 days a week, and do some cardio work along with some minor, repetitive strength training, that would be good. And a real good week would be making it EVERY day to the gym. BUT….here is the kicker…I have to be at work by 7:00am, a 45 minute commute away. So I should leave by 6 or 6:15am…meaning that the workout needs to be done by 5:30 in order to get a shower and ready for the day…and if I want to do at least a half of an hour of Cardio (bike, elliptical, etc.) along with some other stuff, I really should make it to the gym when it opens at 4:30am. Well…I should do this so that my exercising does not encroach on my evening family time. I have been able to do this in the past…a couple of times, so I know it is possible to make it happen somewhat regularly. I just need to make it happen very regularly.

Also, in reviewing the way I eat….I just eat too much. Too big of portions, too often, and sometimes not the right stuff. I mean, I have a tough time stopping eating when something is good. And I have a tough time not eating when I am bored. I have begun to really focus on this, and ensure try to ensure that I don’t eat when I am not truly hungry. I mean…I need to wait until I can feel the ‘need’ to eat, not just the ‘want’ to eat. Well…I hope you know what I mean. I am sure I will get into this more in the days weeks to come….

Well, I have been rambling a bit too long, so my wife says…so I had better sign off before I make my life ‘worse’ with her instead of better!! – (a joke).

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A better life

Posted by Aaron on January 9, 2010

Ok…I am going to do it!
I am going to start a blog….

I have some New Years resolutions…it is that time of year…and I figured I would go ahead and start a blog in order to document my successes and failures…hopefully to be an inspiration to some, and maybe get encouragement from others…

A little about me….I am 36, nearly 37, and I want to live a better life. A better life not only for me, but for my family…my kids and my wife. I have lived all over these United States of America (lets see…California, Massachusetts, Virginia, Tennessee, back to Virginia, onto Utah, California again, and now Arizona) and where we are right now, both my wife and I agree, we are in the BEST location we have ever lived. We are in a not-so-small town in the Valley of the Sun, Arizona. A very family oriented town with what we consider a very good educational system for the kids, and we LOVE it!

Well…what is a “better life”?? To me it is one that is closer to God, closer to my family, and FUN! Fun being not just content, but a real JOY to live. I want to be excited about getting up tomorrow, and want to feel like I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want today to end! I know this is not possible ALL the time, I mean we all have our ups and downs, right? What I want is more ups than I have been having, and fewer downs. I have a plan to help get this going in the right direction…I have been working on it for a while, and have intensified it in the last month, put goals and standards up and am beginning to switch it into high gear. As part of the “high gear” I figured I would add this blog to my life…kind of like an open book diary to help keep me on track, and like I said in the opening, maybe inspire some, and hopefully be encouraged by others. I also want to voice some, if not all of my opinions in life…get them out there…let people know what and how I think.

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