A Better Life

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

Posts Tagged ‘goals’

It has been a while…

Posted by Aaron on February 9, 2010

It has been a while since I posted…I am still getting used to this thing, the posting and all, but I am truly committed to doing this Blog as it really helps keep me motivated. I promise to get better – I already have 2 other posts in the works, and once I finish writing about the questions from the 1st chapter of the “Be A Man” book, I will begin writing on the 2nd chapter. I have thought about creating deadlines, like I have to post at least on at least 2 different days to give updates and write about my thoughts? It will force me to be sure to sit down and write and thing about at least something thoughtful, and hopefully thought-provoking for all of us.

While today was a good day – I actually made it to mass AND the gym, it has not been so good for the last 2 weeks. Luckily I have a GREAT wife who when I said last night how long it had been since I had been to the gym, she said…it doesn’t matter, go tomorrow and get started again! I have really got to “put my head down” and focus on making the habit stick. I am going to do it again tomorrow…gym in the morning, and mass at lunch! I HAVE to do it!

I also REALLY need to make sure I am not picking up those little things to eat, especially late in the evening!! I really need a stronger will when it comes to that! I have definitely cut back on how much food I am eating, it is just that I still have some “breakdown” moments, and I almost can’t help myself. Well…to that, too, I must re-commit myself to reducing that later food. Overall, I am eating less, and definately more healthy…I mean the few snacks I do take in the day are fruits and veggies…so I am feeling good about that!

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On the prayer front – We need prayer every day. We need to do more than just say prayers. We (I) need to really start taking some time each day and just sit with God. Not saying anything, but just sitting…in His presence, and …well…just focus on his presence. His presence not necessarily in my life, or in others lives, but just allow myself to be consumed with His love. Truly accept His love. I guess this is something that Fr. Larry talks about in Chapter 2, but I have really been thinking of it more and more as I study the book. It is interesting how we really need to allow ourselves to know him, and spend time with him as we would a very good friend or spouse in order to really KNOW his love for us. I will continue talking about this in an upcomming post.

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I am getting excited. Baseball is almost here! The roof of Chase Field (Diamondbacks home stadium) is open nearly every day. The Big-League pitchers and catchers start reporting to their camps in Fla and AZ in less than 8 days!!! Spring training games start in 3 weeks…then only another 5 weeks until Opening Day! Then, 6 months of ‘heaven’ – the season and playoffs, ending with the fall classic in October/November.

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A couple of you have forwarded me some great quotes, and I would like to post them so that all can see. I do enjoy hearing what all of you have to say on this blog. I encourage you to tell your friends about it, too. Tell them to participate and comment! PLEASE!!

“Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections”.
— Unknown, from a church bulletin

“Anxiety is the soul’s greatest enemy, sin only excepted. When the heart is anxious and disquieted within itself, it looses the power to preserve those virtues which are already acquired, and also the means of resisting the temptations of Satan, who does not fail to test the strength of that rope.”
— St. Francis DeSales

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The Final Goal

Posted by Aaron on February 1, 2010

The title to the 1st chapter in “Be A Man!” by Fr. Richards is entitled, “Be a Man Who Stays Focused on the Final Goal.” The 1st words of this first chapter are, “You are going to die!” Wow…what a way to begin a book…. Truly uplifting, right? Well, as I read further into the chapter, I realized and he wrote about the fact that the sooner you come to the realization of the fact of this statement, the more fully and the better you will live your life.

Death is a fact of life that none of us can control…at all… no matter how we try to live more a more healthy, physically fit life, it could be gone in a flash. You truly never really know if that next breath you want to take will happen. You no matter how carefully you drive, no matter how you protect yourself, you never know when that “time” will come via accident, via force, or naturally. You just never know. Once we realize this, we can begin the process of addressing this truly unknown in our life. We are powerless to avoid it. It is something that happens to everyone…at some point, and none of us know when it will be coming!

So many of us have very timely goals in our lives…striving, practicing to achieve these goals, which in the end are very un-important in the broad scope of even our lives. Fr. Larry uses the example of athletes in high school whose goal is a state championship, but later in life…really, who cares. And yet they practice HARD each and every day to achieve the goal. He then flips that over to our spiritual life and what should our goal be? Heaven! Being with God for eternity, and yet, what do we do? Many, or should I say most of us often spend an hour a week with him at church, when we feel like it, and then, when we remember, we try to think good thoughts through the rest of the week…think about it!! Do we really truly practice and live our lives like we want to achieve this goal of eternal life with Him?? Don’t you think we should put just a little extra effort into it, maybe even a lot!??

Remember, our goal is to live in eternity with Him! – this is not something fading…I really liked his description of eternity, found on page 23, “Eternity can be compared to when a man goes to the beach at Lake Erie, bends down, takes one grain of sand, one tiny, itty-bitty grain of sand, and he slowly takes one step. It takes him ten thousand years to go take another step. This man starts slowly walking and it takes him a billion years to get to the top of Mount Everest. When he gets to the top of Mount Everest, he drops that one grain of sand and slowly, at ten thousand years a step, walks back to the lake. It takes billions of years to get back to Lake Erie and, there, he starts the process again. [He then does this same process with each piece of sand throughout the earth.] When he has every grain of sand at the top of Mount Everest, then eternity is just beginning.” Just beginning!!!! Think of the amount of time we are contemplating here! And, as he continues on to say, “what we do in this little time on earth [our life] determines where our eternity will be.” Interesting…think about it. If we don’t, we won’t like where we are for all that time ahead of us after our death!

But, at the same time, we must know extremely intimately like we know our good friends, our wives, our family! We must take time with him! We cannot just spend an hour a week, and some good thoughts the rest of the time! We need to make a commitment to God of our time so that we can get to know him, and love him like he does us!

“If you want to be a man, then be a man of God. If you want to be a man, then you have to say, ‘It is going to take me time just like it takes me time to make money, time to be healthy, time to watch sports, time to do all of these things. If it takes time to grow in those things, then it is going to take time to get to know God.’ God must become the most important thing in your life. Money isn’t going to keep you alive forever. Being healthy isn’t going to keep you alive forever…Let me give you a hint: nothing will keep you alive forever except God. The most important thing you will ever do is seek God. When you come to know Him, He will teach you how to be a man.”

How more true can these statements be?? Fr. Larry’s writing is filled with thought provoking questions. He is an incredible writer who really makes me think with each of his sentences. One of the things he does in this book, is at the end of each chapter he has “Three tasks you must accomplish” and then offers, “Questions for reflection and discussion”

3 Tasks:
1. Be a man who lives with your end in mind. Write down what you want god and others to say about you when you die. These should be your new goals in life. Now set up a plan on what you need to do to reach these goals. Be practical!
2. Be a man who knows God. If you do not know God yet, then decide today that you are going to go and do whatever it takes to get to know Him. Don’t wait; life is short, and eternity is forever!
3. Be a man of prayer. Commit yourself to spending at least five minutes a day with God in prayer for the rest of your live, beginning today.

Questions
1. Do you live for today or for eternity? Explain.
2. What would a person who was honest say about you if you were died today? What do you want them to say?
3. Read Matthew 25:31-46. What does Jesus say will happen when He “comes in his glory”? If this were to happen today, which side would you be standing on?

In an upcoming section I will comment on these tasks in my life, and answer the questions. I hope you can reflect, too on these and comment here, if you would like!

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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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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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