Saturday, May 31, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014


To Live.
With joyful abandon,
To embrace the world.
To feel with our being
that we live our true potential:

To fully be in every single moment.

Or to live without its energy,
living in the twilight gray
an existence of sadness.
The Living Death.
The Rut.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Appointment and Disappointment

There are days in which I am very disappointed with large chunks of my life.  Which brings up the not unreasonable question, What is disappointment?

Appoint:  To fix or officially set; to name officially; to determine the disposition of by power of appointment.

Disappoint:  To fail to meet the expectation or hope of; to cause disappointment.

When I read this, I was confused.  Typically I think of disappointment as the opposite of appointment - apparently not.  But not so unrelated as I might have thought:  a failure to meet an expectation or hope can include not being officially set or naming officially, perhaps even in the sense of being dis-appointed (un-named or removed) from a position or outcome.

And how does any of this help me actually fix the problem I was hoping to fix?  How do I combat the sense of disappointment that I have?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it starts in the area of appointment.  How did I appoint these expectations of life that I have - or rather, who appointed them?  Are they valid?  If they are, then I can feel legitimately let down by the fact that things have not gone the way I would have wished.  If not, perhaps those were not valid appointments (goals, wishes, thoughts, affirmations) to begin with.

Certainly this extends itself to others' expectations of me.  These are things that others have appointed (officially set, disposed by power of appointment) to me - but again, are these legitimate?  Are they reasonable?  Are they correct?

And if I find myself disappointed in the things that are legitimate and within my power, what do I do about that?  Well, the nice thing about dis-appointing is that you can re-appoint things as well.  So perhaps the better question is this: if disappointed, how do I set or fix things for success?

A final thought:  appointees serve at the pleasure of those that appointed them.  If something turns out to be truly unreasonable, one can simply act - to dis-appoint it from a position of power.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Enforced Humility

I have such problems with humility.

Not the humility that I self impose, of course.  No, that is something that never seems to be an issue.  The conscious setting aside of one for the betterment of another may sometimes be difficult, but there is a sense of the rightness of  what you are doing.

No, the humility I have problems with is the humility imposed by others.  The humility that comes from other seeing the position as they see - perhaps rightly as it is.  The realization, however painful, that in fact your position is really what it is and you really are who you are, at least in the eyes of certain situations.

It is the realization that you are a doer, not a planner.  That you are here to do smaller parts of larger things - and seemingly most especially not the parts that get the reference and recognition.  That people in positions above you may not view things as a participatory event but really as a top down situation where your job is to do what you do - and shut up about it.

I have made the reference before to my position in life being considered by most to be that of an automatic transmission:  always functioning, always quiet, just there.  I am realizing that for a lot of people that is how they tend to view other people a lot in general.

And this is where the humility comes in.  Even in these situations, I am called to be humble: not lashing out, not angry, not grumpy.  Recognized and rewarded or not, I called to work and serve.  And be humble.

Even when it is enforced.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rain Again

It is raining again this morning.

This brings both happiness and sadness.  Happiness of course because we need the rain quite badly - and from my point of view, any rainy day is a good day.  Sadness because, of course, today was the day I was going to try to start off on a different schedule.

But perhaps that is okay.  Rain is a good metaphor for a lot of things.  It can represent the washing away of old items.  It can represent the renewal of life.  It can even represent the simple fact that our plans, for all our carefully planning of them, can be easily swept aside by things beyond our control.

I am keeping my ear attuned to hear if the rain has finally stopped, thinking that perhaps I could still get a run in this morning.  But the thunder and lightning continue their march by the house as well, booming and lighting up the sky as they have all night.  The thunder will roll and roll and roll, not at all like the short cracks of thunder I recall from growing up.  Again, another wonderful metaphor about how what that which we have always known may not be all that there is.

Ironically I have changed my schedule a bit in hopes that I might be able to get more done.  Instead, it appears this morning that I have changed my schedule so that I can in fact get less done - but have more time to think about what I am doing.

Which is in itself an unexpected gift.  The gift of time to think, to ponder, is one which I continue to undervalue within my own life.  Somehow I got off on a track that says that doing is the only way to move a life forward, not remembering that without thinking and reflection there is no doing - or at least doing with meaning.

I poke my head outside the door one last time.  The rain is still there, gentle and beating down, putting my last hope of getting a run in this morning to shame.  The coffee pot is sputtering the final notes of its morning song, a precursor of the smell that will make its way to where I am sitting with its siren song of warmth and caffeine.

The day is coming rushing at me with the full force of reality itself -but like the rain, is soft enough in its coming to allow me the courtesy of some thought and coffee for a few fleeting moments.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sergeant MacKenzie

In honor of those who have served, Sergeant MacKenzie:

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground Ill not be afraid
Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears
Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me
Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Where before many more have gone

This arrangement was taken from the Soundtrack of We Were Soldiers Once - And Young.  Well worth your time on a Memorial Day.

Sergeant MacKenzie

Friday, May 23, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ask Your Father

So I mentioned yesterday that I had sat down and made a list of things I was thinking of doing.  Last night I ran part of it through the ultimate test:  my father.

One should hold their father's opinion in high regard.  In my case, I especially should hold my father's opinion in high regard since he seems to have been right about virtually everything that I have asked his advice on, especially the things that I asked his advice on and then did exactly the opposite.

It was my father that asked me hard questions about The Firm - questions that I should have listened to and pondered instead of plowing through and thinking that hope was a better answer than facts.  It was my father that, after the debacle had occurred, calmly watched me try to rebuild my situation without a hint of "I told you so".

So it was with interest that I listened as as mentioned some of the things that I was thinking about.  In the one case- that of advanced degree - he did not specifically say "Do not do that" but he hesitated from saying anything at all.  For another - that of a practical skill that I would probably enjoy - he evinced much more enthusiasm.

The decision is ultimately my own of course, but what (hopefully) 9 years of painful rebuilding has taught me is that it is not enough merely to consult myself, listen to my own carefully crafted logic, and then move forward.   It is better to seek the advice of those who have more experience, even if just to bounce the idea off of them for their perspective.

Or more simply, ask your father.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Planning for the Future

So this weekend I sat down and construct a careful time line of what I needed to do for the next 5 to 10 years.  After my recent personal successes in April of publishing and in-dojo certification, I realized that there were a number of other things that I could do - and if I stagger them appropriately, I can get them on the list.
So I sat and worked.  By the time I was done I had a series of learning and certifications out for the next 10 years.  It covered a lot of ground:  language, career related skills, in-dojo certificates, maybe even an additional degree.  All cascaded, one leading into the other such that I am not doing too much at a time.  It was a thing of beauty.

And then it hit the wall of reality.

Of everything I was listing, what there was actually going to improve my life (ignore the financial implications - at this point financing anything is not an option)?  For those things that were career related, is there enough there to give me bang for my buck?  Or am I just pursuing things that I want to that will eat time and energy and not really impact my life at all?

Which gets back to choices, of course.  What kind of choices am I making?  Am I making choices on a system that will continue to exist or am I clearly seeing the world as it is and acting accordingly?  I am guilty of that, of course - trying to see the world as I wish to see it rather than how it is. That can work out well and not so well for one of course - sometimes simply by seeing the world as we wish to see it we can bend certain things to our will that common sense tells us would not be possible.

But doing requires the investing of time - even as does the pursuit of those items I made my list for.

Ultimately the question is this:  What future are you really preparing for?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

10 Things I Love About Conan The Barbarian

I have had the distinct pleasure of getting reacquainted with Conan The Barbarian - not the hideous adaptation or remake created by Hollywood but the originals as written by Robert E. Howard.   I read him once long ago but the books moved on; it has been my pleasure to start finding them and reading them again (thank you, Used Book Stores!).  And so, without further ado, 10 Things I Love About Conan The Barbarian:

1)  He is the eternal optimist.  He always believes he can accomplish what he sets out to do.

2)  He is a man of action.

3)  He is is in really good physical condition.

4) He is an adventurer.

5)  He is actually a pretty good linguist.

6)  He makes a practice of becoming an expert at what he does (He is a warrior of course, but he always strives to be the best).

7)  He is the ultimate fantasy success story, rising from poor barbarian to the king of the mightiest realm in Age.

8) He has the ability to enjoy life no matter where he is.

9)  He is a great leader of men.

10)  He has an ultimate unerring sense of justice and chivalry.

I know, I know - he is just a fantasy character.  But with so many real leaders and celebrities with character flaws or actual flaws, it is nice to have an example somewhere to emulate, right?

Monday, May 19, 2014


Happiness is deeper than we think it is.

In speaking with Snowflake last night, one thing I commented I was trying to work on was my state of mind - my happiness - when I come from work.  Frankly, it is far less than what I think it should be - and it seems to be affecting others.  No matter how much I try coming in the door with a hearty " I am home" has eluded me - for years.

But Snowflake made me think deeper about it.  "It is not just then"  she said, "it is always.  Is your mood in general happy?  And how are you in general when you are around people?"


The truth is that I am not a very happy person.  Oh sure, I can put on a grand show, be the jovial "Hail and Well Met" fellow that appears to have things well in control and moving forward, but in reality I am not very happy.  Not psychotically so mind you, and not to the point that it prevents me from being a functional human being.  But certainly not anywhere near what I often seem to portray.

Why?  Well, here is an even more difficult question:  What is happiness?

I wish I could answer that question conclusively.  It would resolve a host of other issues.  I could then confidently say "This is what I define happiness as" and "These things hardly make me happy".  Instead, I am left careening through the day and a listing of activities, some of which provide me joy but perhaps contribute little to my life, some of which provide me no joy but must be done, some which provide neither joy nor a sense of purpose, and a very few which make me happy but do not seem to lead anywhere.

What would a life of doing mostly activities one likes look like?  I certainly grasp that there are always things which must be done, but what if the bulk of my activities were things that I either enjoyed, added value to my life, or allowed me to live on purpose.  What would such a life look like?

I cannot imagine - I can only imagine the negative, which I seem to be living every day:  a dull sense of grinding activity in which I grit my teeth, trying to endure another day or week in order to make it through to the things I like to do.

And this one thing I can speak to definitively:  enduring is simply not the same as happiness.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Goals and Rewards

I have a problem with goals.

Oh, not the setting of them.  I have become quite good at that part of it.  I can whip up a set of goals for a day, a week, or a year within the course of an hour.  I can even come up with a tracking metric.  The problem is that I have a very difficult time maintaining the fire to accomplish those goals over a long period of time.

I guess the thing I always believed about goals was there was a linear progression: set goal, accomplish goal, get reward, move on.  What I have found is that the end points of goals, even if clearly defined, often hardly amount to a single actual output at all.  Work tasks completed simply mean there are other tasks to be completed, not that there are riches or rewards at the end of it.  And often personal accomplishments are the same:  the books I complete, while being a significant investment of time and energy, hardly result in the influencing of almost anyone or acting as a ticket out of what I do know.

Is it that I define the goal ineffectively?  Or is it that I do not tie it specifically to a reward?

This is the why and result question:  why am I doing what I am doing?  And what do I expect to get out of it - not just the finishing of another task, but the actual outcome:  an item?  A certificate?  A promotion?  Or something checked off on my list to my larger goals?

This is where a "visual inspiration" page in a planner would be useful with pictures of what one is actually working towards or what one wants to achieve?  If I want to live at The Ranch, why is there not a picture there?  If I want a new katana or naginata, where is that picture - and where is my commitment to buy it once I complete that goal?

Because I think this is the part I am missing.  If I could tie my successes to accomplishing my goals - not just the intellectual exercise but the actual physical or emotional accomplishments of those goals - I suspect my incentive to achieve would not be an issue.

In fact, I think I would be about goals and accomplishing things all the time.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Inflection Point At Work

There is a point at every job I have been at when something turns.

It is not time based.  It is certainly nothing that you receive a shirt for - and quite likely, it may very well be something that is never spoken of.

It starts as a sense.  You suddenly get the sense that you are involved in more and more meetings.  And then you realize that almost every moment of your day is consumed with one task or another.  The work keeps stacking up, more and more items that need your attention but are getting pushed off because you have something else you need to be doing at the time.

It is always at this moment that the change occurs.

I have contemplated about this for a while.  The only thing I can come up with is the that when this point is reached it is a sign that actions which should have been taken - say, an advance in levels or additional resources - have no intention of being taken.  In other words, the company has no more investment in you as a future growing resource but only in a resource that is good for doing more until such time as you no longer become necessary.

There are two choices when this point is reached.  The first is simply to accept that this is the way things are and to hope that more effort will result in a final recognition of your effort and the need.  The second is to accept that your time where you are is over:  any chance of moving forward in level or resources will only occur somewhere else where you have not be pigeon holed into the role you currently role.

Let us simply say that the first choice seldom works out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Day of Trivialities

Yesterday was not a good day.

Oh, it was not a terrible day by any stretch of the imagination.  Nothing truly bad happened.  A crack did not open up in the earth and swallow me.  No flat tires.  I still have a job.  No one died.  But it was a very dispiriting day none the less.

Why?  Because it was a day of triviality.

It was a day like so many that I spent in the past in my career.  A day where I spent time doing things I have done for the past 14 years:  pushing documents through the system.  Preparing presentations for visitors.  Following up on required paperwork that no-one really seems to care about and feels perfectly okay to ignore.  In other words, a day realizing that my career has not progressed one iota in a very long time.

This is the most dispiriting of all - to realize that one's career has simply become a never ending cycle of small tasks that repeat themselves without the possibility of escaping them and moving forward, a sort of horrible career reincarnation where one never really moves beyond what one is doing.

The options are minimal and somewhat grim.  The concept of moving up where one currently works is simply a non-starter at this point - after all, why would anyone promote someone who is doing the items that need doing?  Trying to find a new position - a promotion ideally - at a new company is another option, although it creates its own set of issues in terms of family and moving.  A new career - as we have discussed before - brings with it its own set of issues, the first of which is merely starting over again at the bottom when one cannot really afford to do so.

The part that is frustrating - the part that is the most debilitating - is the horrible sense that nothing is going to change.  14 years of doing the same thing is enough to make that plain. And the realization that even in the doing of these things the inherent triviality that exists - that most of what is worked on will simply slip into the dustbin of history without a second thought, that the critical items of today are really nothing more than the failed and outmoded projects of yesterday - does nothing to promote a sense that somehow, somewhere, what I am doing is for the better.

But today is another day.  Another day that I will get up and head out and do my thing - and perhaps somewhere harbor the hope that today, somehow or somewhere, something about it will be different.  Different enough to make me believe that careers really do move forward instead of just remaining the same.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


We had rain last night.

Large amounts of rain, pouring from the sky.  The sort of rain that one wishes we had all the time - not the immediate downpour which is here and then gone five minutes later but the longer rain that lasts all night (it will still spitting rain when I went outside at 0530 this morning.

We got the full show as well - wind, thunder, lightning, heavy rain and light rain - as we went through the evening.  And it was pretty consistently spread out as well - thunder was still passing through at 0400 this morning during one of my intermediate dozes through the night.

The final total was about 3.5 inches.  That is a stunning amount to me for rain that comes in an approximately 12 hour period.  Where I come from we measure it in inches over a day to two days, not in multiple inches in hours.  And it is badly needed where we are right now - the cracks have started to appear in my yard where grass is not covering them and we find ourselves already in watering restrictions (unheard of in May when we are supposedly coming out of one rainy season.

The most remarkable thing to me is that the rain here is not nearly as cold as it is where I come from (seeing as how the rain comes in summer) and so sitting out on the porch watching the rain can actually be an event.  I sat outside for a while last night as the rain poured down, watching the sheets pass along the street as the sky lit up with lightning and the trees danced.

This morning, of course, it is hard to tell we had that much rain:  the sidewalk is damp but not that damp with only receptacles able to demonstrate that a storm of such magnitude washed through last night.  And my memory, of course.

It is always good to take a moment to rejoice in the simple things that God provides through nature.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Morning

There is little so disabling as a Monday morning.
For me it begins the night before as that general feeling of "Sigh" creeps over me.  The nights are not better - on Friday night I could sleep through a hurricane, on Sunday night I wake three or four times until at last I leave the bed to keep from waking others up and lie on the couch tossing and turning until it is close to the time that I think I should actually be up and about.

It is clear, is it not?  The disabling sensation, the tossing and turning is directly tied to what I have to do right after it: my job.

The lack of sleep does not help my perspective on things, to be sure.  It is easier to be enthusiastic about something when one is well rested but how does one become well rested when one's life keeps pushing into one's sleep patterns.

I will get through the thing of course - I have to.  I will suit up here in a few moments, drive to work, and submerge myself in the needs of what has become my career.  I will probably have a few good moments and a number of items I need to work on as I go through my day.

But there, in the back of my head, the countdown to Friday has already begun.  And with it, the ability to sleep through the night once again.

Friday, May 09, 2014


I am bored.

This thought suddenly crashed into my head at about 1430 yesterday as I was paging through something to review at work.  It is a type of document that I have been reviewing for almost five years at my current place of employment.  And in a flash I realized that I was bored with it.

And with most of what I do constantly.  Every day it has become the same round of tasks to do and arguments to have.  Documents which need my signature, items which need my review, things which I need to accomplish - all have become the same in my mind.  Literally, I have nothing to look forward to any more.

It explains quite a bit if I stop and think about it.  No wonder I have found myself on the downward trend of enthusiasm and energy.  It is exceptionally hard when every day becomes like every other with no hope of anything changing or becoming different.  Are there new things coming on line?  Possibly.  Do I believe that they will in any way change the content of my work or the shape of my day?  Not at all.

What do I do with this thought?  I am not sure.  Certainly this is the first time - perhaps ever in my work life - that I have consciously realized that I am bored. In other areas of life, when one is bored one begins to find things to do to become not bored.  Not as easy in a job where change comes slowly and there are a certain level of expectation of the tasks that need to be accomplished.

But one thing is certain:  getting better at the mundane and boring does nothing to advance one's career or fulfill one's life.  It only ensures that one is better and skilled at doing boring things.

And that is no path to success.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Out of Control

Feeling a little out of control of events this morning.

My life seems more and more caught up by events that are completely outside of my control.  I am caught in the vortex of decision which are beyond my ability to make - but which impact me a great deal.  It is in more than one area, which makes the whole thing a little more disconcerting to me.  Bottom line:  it feels like I control the fringes of my life.  I seemingly have no control over the center.

What bothers one, of course, is that one wants to actually take charge of the situation and make those direct changes which can make impact.  But it feels like one cannot, of course:  we are tied by a thousand tiny threads, any one of which we could break but a thousand of which tie us to the ground.

Is this it?  That is what the inner core of me cries out at moments like this.  I feel so trapped, so ineffective, so much a product of an industrial age to which I am merely a cog in several other wheels.

Dangerous, of course.  These are the moments where bad decisions are made, where disgust and anger rise up in a torrential wave leading one to say and do things which one will later regret - viscerally satisfying at the moment of course, but eventually leading nowhere.

But even as the blood cools (or perhaps just accepts that this is way things are) one is left with a single question:  is this all I can really expect from the rest of my life?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


So I have been struggling with a planner format.

I like the concept of a daily planner.  I like the concept of writing down tasks so you do not lose track of them, of having your goals available to you every day, of having a single place to record ideas and quotes just random things that come into your head.  The problem, of course, is doing it in such a way that it is actual useful for you.

I have tried various versions of the "Non-Planner Planner" for the past 8 years or so - more of a large journal than a planner where I would write down some of the various sections noted above and include daily or weekly entries with tasks.  The problem was it worked really well for some things - like a place to keep goals and quotes and ideas - but it worked really badly for daily tasks.  I do not quite understand what it was, only that I found that the writing down and marking off of tasks became such a chore that in the end I would not do it at all and ended up with empty pages at the end of the year (empty pages make me sad).

This year I tried something different:  I got a simple notebook to write down things like quotes and goals and a simple calendar planner to write down tasks.  This too has proved disappointing:  my tasks do not get written into the calendar and I still end up with empty pages.  My compromise at this point is to start writing down some daily tasks in the notebook and write down events in the calendar.  I am still not happy with this compromise either, as I am carrying around two books where I need one and my ability to write down and execute tasks is still pretty minimal.

Or am I looking in the wrong place?  Is my ability to create and execute tasks that is the issue and not so much how I record them?  Surely I am not dependent on owning a particular type of book to record tasks but on the ability to write and execute them - for some people, post-it notes are enough.

But I like some kind of planner.  I like having them from years past, able to look back and see what I accomplished and wrote and (indirectly) what I was thinking for the year.  It is a unique historical perspective of years gone by.

So where do I come down?  We will see with trying to enter daily tasks - and executing.  Perhaps my failure is truly not the vehicle I have chosen but how I am driving it.

Monday, May 05, 2014

A Simple Phrase

We badly underestimate the power of a simple phrase.

It happened to me again the weekend at a Highland Games.  I turned in my usual performance i.e. relatively consistent for me but vastly behind the performance of everyone else.  I do not throw for competitiveness except against myself, but I am sure that to those watching it is something of a mystery why I am throwing with everyone else on the field.

Near the end of the day on of my fellow competitors - A guy whose athletic abilities are super good now and with practice will only get a lot better - says, kind of out of the blue, "You are one of my favorite competitors out here."

Boy, that will sure make a guy's day.  In fact, that will pretty much make a guy's week.

9 simple words.  They did not cost him anything to say - other than the sincerity that he had behind them when he said them.  But they were worth a million dollars to me - not just then, but all the way on the 3 hour drive home and then throughout the day yesterday as well.  And, I am pretty sure, throughout this week as well.

We badly underestimate the power of a simple phrase.  The more important question is, what are we going to do about it?

Friday, May 02, 2014

Book Number 5

I passed a milestone Monday that I failed to account for:  my fifth book is now published!

I am pretty excited, as much for the content as for other factors as well:
- This book was started on 01 November 2013 and published on 27 April 2014, a period of 6 months, which is almost a record for me (I conceivably could have done it in less time but I published another book in the mean time).
- It was by far one of the smoothest books I have written in terms of flow, although it hardly ended up where I expected it too.
- I already have sold some books! (Yay profit!)

It is the sort of thing that encourages one to write again.  All efforts should be like this.

And there are more efforts, of course.  One time I tried to explain to someone what it was like to write and have other ideas floating around in one's head:  "It is having a number of people in your head trying to talk to you as you say 'Wait, wait - I will get to you as soon as I can.'".  They are there in the back of my head, clamoring to get out.

And they seem to keep multiplying.  I have gone from the book I intended to write for Nanowrimo 2013 (which will go to Nanowrimo 2014 - but this time I will prepare) to that book plus a second one on Christianity to that one plus the one on Christianity to another one that popped into my head last week ("Hi, I am your new book that needs to be written.  You were not doing anything important, were you?").

I enjoy writing so much and find it an incredibly rewarding effort.  If only I could figure out a way to make a living at it.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Opportunity versus Motivation

I got one of those fairly rare offers in that comes only a few times in a career:  the chance to reinvent everything.

With Hammer Fall II, my manager (among others) has left.  His fingerprints - and that of his predecessor - are all over the system under which I have had to work for the last five years.  Two layers of excessive bureaucracy for the sake of an opinion of how things should be done does not lead to a highly effective system.  After a while of battling the opinions one simply becomes quietly numb and tries to figure out the best way to work within the confines of what one has.

But they are gone now, gone with the shifting winds of the industry which seem to engulf us all at some point, blowing us on to another destination or place of employment.

And so the suggestion came yesterday - or more of a question really, the question of "What is your vision?  How soon can you provide it?  What would you make the system?"  Heady questions - the sort of thing that can make or break a career.  And yet I find myself struggling.

Why?  Because I have been so long in a system where incompetence and overbearing authority seems to be rewarded and all things must have the imprimatur of the person above you that the thought of being able to actually effect change seems to have become quiescent within me - indeed not only quiescent, but almost a thing which cannot be resurrected.

This is remarkable if I sit and think about it for a moment.  My personal life over the last few years - indeed, over the last weekend - has definitively demonstrated that with effort and practice and dedication anything is possible.  I know this to be true.  I have seen it work now time and time again in my own life.  Yet presented with the same sort of opportunity, I merely sigh and try to generate some level of motivation.

It is belief, of course - belief that something like that can be definitively changed and that my efforts can actually pay off.  That is the core of my reluctance to attack the problem.

How does one overcome such a barrier?