Dear Friend: "Relax. Stress is a Poison."

Dear Friend,

Relax. It's okay. Now is the time to let your mind breathe. This is the moment where you get some time away from the stresses of the 8-5 work week. Enjoy it.

Free time is meant to be savored like a fine wine or artisan coffee. It can't be relished fully in a hurry or if distracted with mental juggling. Enjoy the now by not dwelling on the past that can't be changed or worrying about the future that hasn't happened yet.

Stress is a poison that clogs your system of happiness. It prevents positive thoughts from entering your bloodstream. It makes worry, regret, and frustration keep your body from working properly.

What you need is a cleanse and rid your body of this cancer. Go do something fun. Read a book. Spend time with loved ones. Take a trip to somewhere new.

Then live in a way that prevents stress from affecting your well-being. It's impossible to avoid stress, but it is possible to suppress it to minimal levels.

Live in the moment. It's a gift. It's called the "present" for a reason.



Waterproof (a poem)

Does the rain make flowers any less beautiful?
No, not at all.

The gray sky
does not diminish its distinct value.
Its hues and textures
simply remain.

Does one's love
look less lovelier
at night
than by day?
No, never at all.

On the Inauguration of the President (a poem by Chris Kirkpatrick)

January 21st, 2013

Now calls us into action,
                                            reminding us
In its immediacy,
                                the very moment

Prodding us to leave a legacy
Worth leaving for our children,

For our grand children—
                                              The countless
Unborn lives we work for now.

The future calls us. 
                                    We hear
Her voice,
                    far off In the distance

                beaconing us onward.
Oh, let each and every breath

Be now. 
                Let every word be now
That leaves our lips be now

And now forever now—
And damn all else that cries

Out for mañana! 
Has no foothold on today!

Chris Kirkpatrick is the author of two books of poetry, Learning to See from the Blind and Mixed Metaphors and is currently working on his third.

Mjolir (a poem by Chris Kirkpatrick)

It falls.
The inexorable
Weight of it

The sound of thunder
From the heavens.
There is no mercy
From this war-hammer.

It’s unblinking wielder
Does not look away,
His Nordic-blue eyes
Flashing in the sun.

It falls.
No sympathy can stop him.
Some things done
Can never be undone.

Chris Kirkpatrick is the author of two books of poetry, Learning to See from the Blind and Mixed Metaphors and is currently working on his third.

Navigating through the North Etiwanda Preserve

Until I went hiking last weekend, I almost forgot how much I really enjoy being outside in nature.  On a whim, my family and I went to the North Etiwanda Preserve in Rancho Cucamonga, CA to hike up a mountain trail.  In retrospect, I'm so glad we decided to go because it was totally worth it.

It was a great family trip because it was a quick little getaway.  It wasn't far from home and a few hours away from the city felt great.  Throughout the whole trail were bits and pieces of information about the history of the area.  Many of the displays contained information about the native people who lived here, the people who migrated through, and the indigenous plants of the preserve.  As we hiked higher and higher on the trail, we got to see a breathtaking view of the Inland Valley.  I paused every few minutes just to admire the view. 

After this trip, my family and I just might take up hiking as a new hobby.


Fracaso (a poem by Chris Kirkpatrick)

The hands of insecurity
Press their weary fingers
On me saying, “Only
If you’d done more
You’d have made it—
If only you’d have pushed
You would succeed."
I am out of tune,
And once again I feel
The tug like the guitar
String of my heart turned
Far too tight almost
To breaking.  But there’s
Nothing to be done
But keep on playing—
Minus a string or two.   

Chris Kirkpatrick is the author of two books of poetry, Learning to See from the Blind and Mixed Metaphors and is currently working on his third.

Dear Friend: "Don't Give Up"

Dear Friend,

I know that you want to really give up right now, but don't.  I know that it's easier for me to say than for you to believe me, but I'm right.  Giving up isn't what you really want to do, it's just what you think you should say. 

It's what your body sometimes says when your mind and heart really want to keep going.  Sometimes it's the other way around.  Just remember that even if you feel like you want to quit, there's something inside you that won't let you give up. 

It becomes a pestering and nagging feeling, but you know it's good for you.  It's a seed of hope.  Hold on to that feeling of hope.  Never let it go; let it grow.

This is when it becomes really easy to find excuses.  They seem to be everywhere.  Excuses are reasons to quit.  Motivation is reasons to move on.  If you're going to find reasons, you might as well find positive reasons to move further.

Giving up is like throwing away your talents down the drain.  It's telling those who believe in you, "You're all wrong."  It's wasting the precious time in the present with despair instead of seizing it with courage.

Quitting is a bad habit.  It's easy to start and when you get really good at it, it's hard to stop.  It's like a snowflake that can turn into an avalanche.  Like all bad habits, the best way to stop it is to prevent it from ever happening; so don't start!

Please don't forget that your journey isn't meant to be a solitary experience.  I'm here for you and others are too.  Let me help you take the weight off your shoulders.  Know that there is support all around you.  At the worst of times, remember this the most.



Thoughts Before Bed

Before I close my eyes for the night, there are numerous thoughts I need to think about. 

For the first few minutes I wonder what tomorrow will be like.  Am I ready?  Even if I'm not, tomorrow will still happen.

I think about my family.  They're on my mind all day, but I especially like to think about them at night.  I'm thankful for each and every one of them.  They push me to be a better person.  When the days become tough and trying, they're my motivation.

Then I think about me.  Not in a selfish way, I reflect upon myself.  I analyze my thoughts, my emotions, and my actions that are a result of them.  Am I growing?  Am I happy with the person I am? 

I think about the world.  It amazes me that there are so many people in the world.  Every single person on this planet has a heart, mind, and a soul.  There is always a part of me that hopes tomorrow will be better than the day before because of the good inside of people.

Sometimes I think about problems.  World problems.  My problems.  Problems about things that haven't even happened yet.

But tomorrow always brings hope.  That's my comforting thought.

Good night.

#Happiness is...

Happiness is...

Fact (a poem by Chris Kirkpatrick)

I measure myself by my own measure,
                                                                     and what I measure
I find to be supreme and perfect.  
                                                             Keep your standards and rubrics. 
Keep your expectations,
                                             your requirements. 
                                                                                 What I give I offer
              What I take I filter through myself. 
                                                                              What pride I have is knowing
That I know myself,
                                    and in that know that nothing is more me than I am.  
I am confident that you are the best you there is,
                                                                                         and I am the best I
And that we are separate and equal and different and essential to everything: 
Necessary cogs in the grand scheme of things ever moving.

Chris Kirkpatrick is the author of two books of poetry, Learning to See from the Blind and Mixed Metaphors and is currently working on his third.

Peace and Pain (a poem)

Life is supposed to be hard.
So don't worry.

It's intended to consist of pain,
suffering, clouds, and rain:
to teach us about love, hope, and harmony.
to take what I wish I never had
and make it the stronger part of me.

This is how it's supposed to be.
What happens is exactly meant for me.
Each obstacle I encounter
is a personal growing opportunity.

3 "F" Reasons Why the Lunch Break is AWESOME

  • When people eat during lunchtime, they are replenishing their body with fuel for the rest of the day.
  • Eating delicious food always makes the day better.
  • If people go out to eat, it gives them a chance to break away from the office, enjoy trying various food venues, and sharing a meal with others.
Free Time!
  • Lunch break gives people a mental and physical break from daily work routines.
  • People have an opportunity to go do something not work related. (Read a book, play a game, etc.)
  • It gives people free time to get personal errands done. (Shop for necessities, go to the bank, or visit the post office.)
Friends and Family!
  • During the lunch break, people can spend leisure time with their work colleagues, especially the ones who they don't encounter regularly.
  • The time off during lunch gives people an opportunity to call their loved ones (spouse, mom, dad, sister, brother, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.)
  • People can meet up with their family and non-work friends for lunch. (It can be either at the office or somewhere off-site.)

My Shadow's Role Model

I have a little shadow. He is 15 months old, weighs 25 pounds, and is as tall as my waistline. Whenever I see him, I see a reflection of me. Everyday my son likes to imitate me and copy almost everything I do.

It's really cute when he tries to be like daddy. He likes to sit on the couch with me and watch TV. After he first watched me turn on the dishwasher, he likes to try to turn on after dinner. He likes to follow me around the house no matter what I'm doing. I know that he is young, curious, and trying to learn from me as much as he can.

Along with my wife, I feel honored to be one of his two main role models. I don't take this responsibility lightly. I know that every day I need to put self forward. I need to think, speak, and act in the way I want him to do so. I know that whether I know it or not, my son is learning to be who he will be from me.

Poetry (a poem by Chris Kirkpatrick)

There were years we held
Little conversation,

Infrequent visits,
On the telephone.

But I don’t care about that
                  Instead, I’ll just chatter
And trust that you’ll listen.

Hopefully, after
A time,
              you’ll learn to pick up
Just where I leave off.

Chris Kirkpatrick is the author of two books of poetry, Learning to See from the Blind and Mixed Metaphors and is currently working on his third.

How One Extra Minute Can Drastically Change Everything

The difference between something extraordinary and ordinary is that little "extra" added onto it.  That's all.  By taking an extra minute throughout the day for the things that matter, a small change in what we think or do can trigger a huge difference in our daily lives.

Last year I decided to spend an extra minute a day with my wife and son.  Before I would head off to work or go to bed, I made the conscious effort to squeeze in an extra minute of quality time.  At work, whenever possible, I take an extra minute to send a quick text to my wife to let her know that I'm thinking of her. 

Every time I eat lunch or dinner, I take an extra minute to add an additional healthy component to my dish.  Most of the time I use that extra minute to look in the fridge to see what fruits and vegetables are available and add it onto my plate.

Whenever I work out, I like to push myself.  If I set a goal to go on the treadmill for 20 minutes, I personally set a goal to stay on for 21 minutes.  That extra minute may or may not make a significant difference with my physical health (I would like to believe so), but the real significance is in developing my ability to push myself mentally and physically. 

Everything Else
Life is short and there are only 24 hours in a day, but there is enough time to do what we want only if we really are willing to make the effort to make it happen.  Choosing to make the extra minute in the day to read, knit, or do that thing we've always wanted to do creates a ripple effect and allows us the opportunity to do what really matters.

Never Underestimate the Creative Power of Legos

The Toy Story Lego display.
This past weekend, my family and I went to Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA to leisurely spend the day strolling in the sunshine.  When we passed by the Lego Store, I was amazed at the displays created by only using Legos. 

As a little kid, I loved playing with Legos.  I loved putting together the different pieces of various sizes, forms, and colors.  It stretched my imagination to create something cool by just using these little plastic building blocks.  By playing with them, I developed my spatial skills which are essential if I wanted to be an engineer or an architect.

Looking at the Toy Story, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Best displays, I couldn't help but admire the thought, skill, and artistry put into them.  These were enormous structures that instilled a sense of awe in me.  They actually made me want to go play with Legos (their marketing strategy almost worked with me), but they also inspired me by the way the sculptures were crafted; simply using a children's toy.

Malificent from Sleeping Beauty breathes fire on top of the Lego Store in Downtown Disney.
The Beauty and the Beast display greets the guests at Downtown Disney.

Picture of the Day: A Random Act of Kindness

The other day, when my wife walked into the bathroom of a Panera Bread in Fullerton, CA to change our son's diaper, she found a surprise (not from me).  On the changing table, she found a small pack of diapers, wipes, and a note.  Although she didn't use it, this surprise made both of us smile at the goodness people have.

How Sushi Helped Me Overcome Fear and Try New Things

A spicy tuna roll.
As hard as it may be to believe, I didn't eat sushi growing up.  The thought of eating raw fish was kind of scary to me.  All of the fish I ate was fried or baked in some fashion and eating it uncooked was definitely not in my comfort zone.  Eating something I've never tried before was really intimidating to me.

In college, I met friends who told me that sushi was their favorite food in the world.  One of them told me that he could eat it for days and not get sick of it.  Hearing that made me curious.  There must be something about it that makes it delicious.  I was curious enough to want to try it, but not curious enough to actually try it.

Then during my sophomore year, my biology lab partner invited me to a sushi tasting with him. Since he was part Japanese, he grew up eating plenty of sushi and was really familiar with its variety. I thought to myself, "Why not?" and decided to try something new.

After class, we went to a local sushi bar. There I tried almost everything. I was introduced to salmon, tuna, unagi (eel), and other seafood in ways that I've never tasted before. I can still vividly remember trying wasabi (a type of Japanese horseradish) for the first time ever. The flavor gave my tongue a kick, but not something my Americanized palette found appealing. Sushi is very complex with various fish, ingredients, and combinations that affect both the flavor and texture of every bite.  The cool part was that John explained to me what each dish was before we tried it. I enjoyed the whole experience. After lunch, I had a whole new appreciation for sushi, Japanese food, and food I haven't tried In general.

Now I love sushi. I love tuna rolls, mackerel sashimi, and salmon.  I like exploring different flavors that I can only taste through expertly prepared raw fish with vinegar flavored rice.  Ever since that experience, I've been more able to try new foods and ingredients that were once considered foreign to me.  I'm still a long way from trying frog legs or escargot (snails), but maybe I'll get there one day soon. 

My "New" New Year's Resolution

New Year's Eve is a time when people reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. It's a time to think about the people in our lives, our accomplishments, and the hard lessons we've learned. It's an opportunity to count blessings, be thankful for them, and muster as much optimism for the upcoming year.

Making resolutions for the new year is as customary as candy on Halloween. New Year's Resolutions provide a way for us to improve our lives little by little every year. I'm sure that a lot of people don't end up keeping their resolutions, but I'm positive that there are also many who do. As for me, I've been lucky enough to keep most if them, although it would be astoundingly awesome if I kept them all.

In the past I've resolved to exercise more. I must say that gyms are ridiculously busy during January. I've also committed to save more money. A significant amount of my income goes toward saving for a house, investing in a Roth IRA and 529 college fund, and paying off student loans. One major change was to eliminate eating fast food and eat more healthy and nutritious home cooked meals. It's a good at to be healthier and save money. Besides that, I made a resolution to spend more time with my family and friends, especially the ones I haven't seen in a while. I made these goals because they were what my life needed at that time they were drafted.

Over the years I've learned that keeping a New Year's resolution is daily discipline. It's a daily challenge to either defeat old habits or start new ones. For the past few years my resolutions have been the same. They've been a combination of my past resolutions; I've just challenged myself to do more of it this year (and probably every year afterward). It seems ludicrous to make a life improvement for only a year then revert back. My daily mission has been a juggling act of balancing my all my previous resolutions while throwing them higher and harder as time goes by. In the future I may add on an extra resolution to juggle. I may take one out. The beauty that I see in New Year's resolutions is a chance to reflect on the past, review our current situations, and redirect our life strategies to go where we dream to go.

This year, my resolution is to maintain my old ones and also love more abundantly, play harder, and live happier.

12 Lessons Learned in 2012

  • The world isn't going to end just because people think other people said so.
  • Time is a ridiculously precious thing, especially with our loved ones.
  • Ever day is a test of character.
  • Patience is a virtue, but so is a sense of urgency.
  • Being pleasantly surprised is a humbling experience.
  • People are smarter than they pretend to be.
  • Every obstacle down the road is an opportunity for personal growth.
  • Sometimes a seed of hope is the most important thing.
  • The people in our lives that still love us after everything life throws at us are our true friends and family.
  • Every deed is done better when it's done with heart.
  • Beauty is in everything everywhere.
  • Anything can always happen.
Goodbye 2012. Thanks for the memories.

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