Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Last Three Books

"I've traveled the world twice over, Met the famous; saints and sinners, Poets and artists, kings and queens, Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before, Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books."
~ Anonymous ~

Jobina likes to make fun of me because of my diverse reading appetite. I like biographies, theology, psychology, fiction, non-fiction, business/economics, outdoors, comic books, history, etc. I can't help it - I find so many things incredibly interesting. I thought it might be fun to ask some of my readers what the last three books they read were; partially to see your tastes and also to get some ideas for new books to read. I'll go first: The last three books that I've read (or are reading) are:

By George - the autobiography of Goerge Foreman
The Richest Man In Babylon - the classic on financial wisdom in story form
Orthodoxy - G.K. Chesterton's apologetic spiritual biography and defense of the faith

So what about you? Be honest!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

VCR Hack

Have an old VCR kickin' around? Don't trash it, hack it. You'd be amazed at what you can find in there . . .

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Good Cry

I was talking to a counselor friend of mine the other day and we were talking about the emotional toll of working with people who are in tough situations. Eventually, he said, he will come to a point where he is so emotionally exhausted that he will call his wife and ask her to rent a really sad movie. He said he does this because he needs "a good cry" and the movie helps him to do this. Once he cries, he's able to feel along with his clients again and he is all good - able to feel emotionally again and not stuck in the numbness of vicarious trauma.

What do you think of this self-care technique? Is sometimes a good cry all you need? I'm also wondering how many guys do this (or something similar) . . .

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two Wolves

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life . .

He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil---he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.

The other is good ---he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win, Grandfather?"

The Elder simply replied, "The one you feed."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thanks Honey

Today Jobina went to the library to pick up a book for herself that she had put on hold. "I guess your name isn't Mark, " the librarian joked, holding up two books in her hand. "No," Jobina replied, "But my husband's is; Mark A. Westman."

"Then this is your husband's" she said, "would you like to take it for him?" "Sure," answered Jobina. So the librarian passed her this book:

Jobina paused for a moment, feeling very uncomfortable. "Um, my husband's a counselor . . . he gets books with strange titles."

"Mm-mmm," said the librarian.

(wait til she tries to pick up my next book on sex therapy!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review: Knockout Entrepreneur

Book Review: Knockout Entrepreneur by George Foreman

Why buy a book by a former boxer sharing his thoughts on business? Well, first because George Foreman is a fascinating guy: a former heavyweight boxing champion of the world (twice actually, the second time when he was 45 years old), former owner of the most popular small appliance in America (The George Foreman Grill), and currently both a pastor and businessman. You know a person has a unique personality when he names his 5 sons all after himself (George Jr, George III, etc).

I chose this book on a whim but ended up really enjoying it. Foreman shares an eclectic collection of advice on being successful as an entrepreneur as well as thoughts on life, family, faith, and integrity. Although most of his thoughts aren't ground breaking or new, the way he illustrates them with stories from his boxing and business exploits make for engaged reading. This book would especially appeal to men wanting to be successful in business but is readable by anyone. His slow and methodical strategy to reclaim his heavyweight title, 20 years after he first won it, illustrates the wisdom that has worked so well for him.

Personally, I was the most challenged by this thoughts on hard work. He relates that sometimes people ask him "George, what has been the secret of your success? How did you do it?" His answer is simple: "That's easy. I got up each day and worked harder then everyone else. If you want to be successful I recommend the same prescription for you." George reminds us that a great team in your corner, a winning strategy, and personal integrity are all important but working hard is the most important quality of all. I rate this book 4 ninja stars out of 5.

Friday, September 18, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Pictures

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Just a reminder to you: God is very, very fond of you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Women's Tendency To "Poach"

I found this intriguing: A new study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology shows that most single women actually prefer men who are already in a committed relationship.

Men and women were matched with students based on a description of their ideal romantic partner. When researchers described the women's match as single, 59 percent of the single women in the study were interested in pursuing him. However, when they described the exact same man as being in a committed relationship, 90 percent of the women were interested. Neither the men nor the already attached women who participated showed this preference. Only the single women.

Is it just me, or is this incredibly disturbing?

Past psychological studies have shown that some women may try to lure a man away from his current partner, a phenomenon known as 'mate poaching.' One 2004 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that as many as one in five long-term relationships began when one or both partners was already in a relationship with someone else.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Desert Fathers: On Earthly Possessions

A story from the 4th century Desert Fathers, a an intensive experiment in monastic Christian living which began to flourish in Egypt, Syria and Palestine, uniting the ancient forms of monastic life with the Gospel:

When abba Macarius was into Egypt, he found a man who had brought a beast to his cell and he was stealing his possessions. He went up to the thief as though he were a traveller who did not live there and helped him to load the beast and led him on his way in peace, saying to himself, "We brought nothing into this world; but the Lord gave; as he willed, so is it done; blessed be the Lord in all things."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Temptation and Delayed Gratification

(Click to enlarge image on right)

Jobina and I recently visited some friends and were impressed by their ability to utilize delayed gratification. Although they are both making very good money, their house is moderately furnished. They have two older vehicles but both are nice and useful. They can be quite frugal. They are saving hard to pay off their home early and we couldn't help but be impressed by self discipline.

Delayed gratification is the ability to go without in the short term so that one can profit in the long term. Some examples:

1. Living frugally to save up money for a house.
2. Not eating sweets so as to be able to fit into a wedding dress or bikini.
3. Holding off on sex during dating so as to enjoy a guilt free and passionate marriage.
4. Investing early and consistently in life, even though it means going without some things, so that retirement is comfortable and secure.
5. Doing one's homework every night even if it means losing out on time with friends (so that one's grades are good enough to get into the right program or school).
6. Saving up your allowance to buy a big ticket item (like a computer, car, etc) and having to miss out on creature comforts that all your friends have.

Walter Mischel did a famous experiment dealing with delayed gratification, famously referred to as the Marshmallow Experiment. In the 1960s, a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow and promised another, but only if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. The video below shows a renactment of what it might look like today:

Oh, The Temptation from Steve V on Vimeo.

The really interesting things is that the researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (determined via surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Here you see at an early age children who's unique personality make up and ability to delay gratification allows them to excel later on in life. Don't be too depressed though, if you were the child who couldn't wait for anything, you can learn to delay gratification - it will just be much, much more challenging for you.

It all comes down to impulse control - the ability to control the desire and urges that rage within us. Strong impulse control allows one to delay gratification, weak impulse control makes it very difficult to delay anything a person wants. Another famous impulse control experiment is the "gift delay," in which children were shown a nicely wrapped gift but told they must complete a puzzle before opening it. Researchers then calculated a "delay score" based on how long the children held out. When independent examiners interviewed the test subject years later, they found that boys who had not delayed were "irritable" and that the girls were "sulky." In contrast, the patient boys were "attentive" and the girls "competent." If you have low impulse control, think of it as a unique challenge that you will have to fight, possibly for the rest of your life. Accept it and begin to organize your life in a way that helps you to build it up and protect you from your times of weakness. Good luck!

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Bike Giddiness

"When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle."
~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

Saturday was a beautiful day as my loving in-laws dropped off my beautiful new bike to me. I am so thankful to my friend Mike for picking up the bike for me in Airdrie and my in-laws for bringing it here from Alberta (thanks guys!). I have been looking for a new bike for over 2 years so as you could imagine it was a very good day! It's a new custom built Jamis Dragon Team. I bought it from a former bike mechanic who builds custom bikes for people. I saw the ad on kijiji and it sounded like everything I was looking for: a steel hardtail (hard to find these days) with very decent components. Ironically because my weekend was so busy I haven't had any time yet to ride it yet, but that will change today. Anyone want to go for a little pedal?

For any bike geeks out there, here's the specs:

- 2007 Jamis Dragon Team frame made of Reynold's 853 Cromoly.
- Shimano XTR (M952) shifters and derailleurs.
- XTR crank set (M960) with 175mm arm length and Shimano (M959) pedals.
- Avid Juicy Carbon disc brakes with 160mm rotors.
- FSA carbon handle bars with ODI Ruffian grips.
- Thomson seatpost with Selle Italia XO saddle.
- Mavic 717 rims with Shimano XT center lock hubs.
- DT Swiss 6 bolt center lock adapters.
- Maxxis Crossmark Tires.
- Race Face Deus 110mm stem.
- Chris King Headset (Black).
- Manitou Platinum R7 100mm travel front fork.

I really like the red flame paint job, it makes me smile everytime I look at it . . .

Friday, September 11, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: What Can Happen

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I find that this is so true that it is downright scary!

Loving and Liking

It occured to me earlier this year that their is a difference between loving and liking, but that people need them both. I was thinking about this and tried an experiment. I tell my son almost every day that I love him. So one day I stopped him, looked him in the eye and told him I had something very important to tell him. He paused. "Riker," I said, "I really like you." He paused for a moment and flew into my arms, giving me a bone crushing hug. "Aha," I thought, "Love is important but so is like."

I came to this conclusion by reflecting on some of my family relationships. With some family members I am 100% convinced that they love me. They are committed to me and I am assured that they would sacrifice big time to care, encourage, or help me. But sometimes I wonder that other question "Do they like me?" We wonder sometimes (often out of insecurity or maybe because actions don't reflect the words we hear), would this person spend time with me if they weren't my boss, friend, co-worker, ministry partner, family member, etc? Yes, we all want to be loved, but we all want to be liked as well.

How do we tell people we like them? Most of the time it's through the non-verbal things we do: spending time with them, smiling, laughing with them, sacrificing our time/energy/money for them, etc. And then of course there is the verbal; affirming them, complimenting them, admiring them, underling the things you like about them, praising them, etc. And of course simply saying those three magic words . . . "I like you."

So there you go, don't forget the importance of telling people (with your words and actions) that you like them. Or perhaps, like me, you may want to ask some important people "Do you like me?" Your request for reassurance may help you, help them, or help both of you to understand better where the other person is. So have a great day and don't forget to tell those close to you that you like them. And if you're really a keener, maybe you'll even tell them why. . .

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Irrational Behavior

Everyone is irrational, even foolhardy ever now and then. Some of us more then others. I think that's OK. Do you?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hair Cut

Today I surprised Jobina by coming home with a haircut. For the past 10 years I get haircuts "when I can," I never schedule haircuts a month in advance. Even though I like the feel of a newly manicured head, I despise taking the time to do it. Half an hour is all it takes but I usually end up putting it off for at least two weeks or so after realizing that it's time. Usually by this timeJobina has been scowling every time she looks at me and I force myself to call and make an appointment.

Anyway, today I was walking home from work and on a whim I stopped in at an Ultra Cuts. Sure enough, the solitary hair dresser was quite willing to cut my hair. As she was cutting I was chatting about life and work stuff. Suddenly I came up with a new theory, one I call "Samson Theory" to better explain my reluctance to get my hair cut. I could tell my hairdresser was curious, so I began to share it with her:

Basically it goes like this - lately I've noticed that when my hair gets longer that I seem to counsel better. In fact this month as my hair was as it's longest I saw some of my best results ever. Today it clicked: I derive my counselling abilities from my hair! The longer my hair gets, the greater my counselling power! Like Samson, cutting my hair takes away my strength (or in my case intuition, empathy, wisdom, and all that other good counselor stuff). So if tomorrow I'm mediocre in my counselling sessions, I'll know why.

I excitedly explained all of this to the lady. I looked up at her, expecting her to bask in the glow of my Biblical and psychological insights. She smiled and said "Some people come up with the craziest ideas." I smiled back and sighed. "They certainly do, " I said, "They certainly do."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cat Ladies

I found this to be a very interesting look at the phenomenon known as "cat ladies," women who collect cats like they were going out of style. Although it seems comical, the condition that they struggle with, animal hoarding, is a serious mental affliction. It's not as funny as you might think. Watch the link below and enlarge your perceptions . . .

Friday, September 4, 2009

ASBO Jesus Friday: Freak

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Belief Blocks: Part 2

So how do you get over belief blocks? The first step is to become aware of them. The second step is to find out what they save you from. Is it the risk of failure? The pain of hard work or discipline? The fear of discomfort or humiliation? Be honest with yourself.

Here are a few ideas on then how to take action. If you have any more, please let me know!

1. Act as if. This technique, borrowed from solution focused therapy is a way of challenging one's intuition and understanding of reality by doing something different. So if you don't think something is possible, act as if it is. If you don't believe that you can find a mate, act as if you could. Or if you are afraid of socializing, act as if you aren't. By acting as if your beliefs aren't true, you can retrain your mind as you begin to do things that you couldn't imagine.

2. Hang out with people who don't have your particular belief blocks. If you want to be wealthy, hang out with people who are. They have already broken their belief blocks! If you want to be a person of faith, hang out with those who live theirs out. If you want to be in shape, hang out with those who weren't in shape but now are. When our doubt and disbelief afflict us, sometimes the only thing needed is to be with someone who has the opposite.

3. Continuously look for and marvel at the things that seem impossible. For instance a little while ago I blogged about a man who survived falling out of a plane (his chute didn't open) and survived the impact by hitting the roof of a building - amazing! Feats of incredibleness open up our minds to expect the unexpected. We become a little less inclined to view things as impossible . . . because maybe they aren't. I take encouragement from stories of spontaneous healings and it reminds me that nothing is impossible.

I like it when someone challenges me to do something that seems impossible. What does it hurt to try? Failure is not the worst thing in the world - not trying is. Attack your belief blocks like you are trying to save your own life. And perhaps you will be . . .

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Belief Blocks: Part 1

I was reading in one of my Outside magazines about belief blocks as applied to mountaineering. Apparently many years ago there were some mountain routes that no one in the mountain climbing community thought were possible to climb. Then along came some crazy Eastern Bloc climbers who started climbing those routes. The belief block was broken - they were climbable and soon many people were climbing them. A belief block is an idea in mind that looks something like this:

"I can't do that."
"That's impossible for me."
"No one could do that."

People used to believe that no one could run a 4 minute mile. It seemed impossible. But then one day someone refused to believe it and they did it. The belief block was broken for everyone and very soon the record breaker's record was broken - again and again. When Gandhi told people he thought that non-violence could win the war for independence against the British, no one believed him at first. But his idea did work and the old belief - that it would never work - was broken.

Belief blocks can be insidious destroyers of our lives. We get stuck in unsatisfying relationships, work malaise, depression, addictions, etc. because we fall into the trap of believing that things can't change. Or, more specifically, that we can't change.

"Lose my extra weight? That impossible for me ."
"Get a better job? Who, me? Nah."
"Have a better marriage? In my dreams."
"Invest in real estate? That's for other people - I'm not that kind of person. . ."

So often we get stuck in hopeless, impossible, negative thinking. And we stay there. Afraid to challenge those beliefs, afraid to hope that things can be different, and afraid to risk what we have for something better. Then we sabotage ourselves while our friends and family look on helplessly. I've done it. In fact, if I'm honest, I'm doing it right now.

What belief blocks do you have that are holding you back? Daring to believe that things could be different, that the impossible just might be possible, is the first step to changing your stars. If you don't believe that you are capable of seeing change, at least believe that God is capable of changing things in your life. Then go do something about it. Get rid of those belief blocks. You'll never miss them. Not everything in life is possible, but then again, not everything is impossible! And sometimes we need to be reminded of that. I know I do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Much You Weigh Affects Your . . .

Being obese affects many aspects of your health but here is a newly discovered risk factor:

For every excess pound piled on the body, the brain gets a little bit smaller.