Two Flowers in a Jar


This art piece was made for my wife a little before our wedding.  It's a representation of our love.  She is one flower and I am the other.  Even though we are two different types of flowers, our lives are now intertwined.  Both flowers feed from the same water, breathe the same air, and are nourished by the same sunlight.  It's simple yet beautiful.

While I've Got You Listening (a poem by Chris Kirkpatrick)

1
Don’t whine.

2
Laugh for no reason whatsoever.

3
Never fail
To learn
From your mistakes.

Be positive;
Moving forward
Beats standing still.

Embrace uniqueness
In yourself;
Learn to appreciate it
In others.

4
Smile. =)

5
Think before you speak--
Listen more.

Climb a tree
While you can.

Dream--
Never stop dreaming.

6
A proud woman
Brings the best
Out of herself;

A wise woman
Brings the best
Out of everyone.

7
Be wise.

Work hard.

8
Don’t take life
Too seriously.

9
Treasure your friendships;
Know when to let them go.

10
Don’t waste time.

11
Dance.

12
You are a diamond;
Accept no man
That doesn’t make you sparkle.

13
Cry.

14
Say I love you
Every day.
Treasure the moments
You’ve been given;
You never know
How many sunrises
You will see.

15
I love you.
I could never be more proud
To call you mine.

Love, Dad.


Chris Kirkpatrick is the author of three books of poetry, Learning to See from the Blind and Mixed Metaphors and his latest book I Don't Know What To Tell You.

How the Best "Things" in Life Aren't Really "Things"

The best "things" in life aren't [physical] things; they're the moments that matter, the memories we hold close to our hearts, and the people we will love forever:
  • Overcoming an overwhelming obstacle.
  • Sharing a home cooked meal at the dinner table with the family.
  • Every moment that I spend with my wife.
  • Watching my son grow up.
  • Birthday parties.
  • Family gatherings.
  • Fun with friends.
  • Having the most supportive family and friends.
  • Weddings.
  • Graduations.
  • Vacations.
  • Having a career that I love.
  • Road trips.
  • Music.
  • Discovering something new.
  • Knowing that I have everything I need to be happy.

What would you add to the list?

Reaching/Standing High (a poem)

The entire world weighing above me,
but enduring it all,
I have made my decision;
I shall stand tall.

In the depths of darkness
or in the midst of uncertainty,
I will face the shadows
lit up with the better side of me.

I am much stronger than I seem
my situation is insignificant
compared to my dreams.

Why Persistence is So Powerful

Persistence never quits, it keeps going with relentless determination.  With each step forward, every small or large success, it builds a snowball of momentum. 

Its intention is unwavering.  Every pause is temporary.  No roadblock, pothole, or detour can stop it from reaching its destination.

It's powered by passion.  It is a perpetual motivation machine. 

Persistence is precious; something to hold, behold, and hang onto for as long as we possibly ever can.

Practical (a poem by Chris Kirkpatrick)

Conventionally speaking
(In an organizational
Sense)

Some may call me boring
(By sheer
Coincidence),

But oh, don’t let that
Fool you
(Though you’re not wrong
To try)

Because half I say—
Just disregard
(The other half’s
A lie).


Chris Kirkpatrick is the author of three books of poetry, Learning to See from the Blind and Mixed Metaphors and his latest book I Don't Know What To Tell You.

The Scholars (a piece of visual art)


This piece was simply created using black ink and paper.  It was inspired by my career as an educator and the work I do with others.   That's all I'll say for now; I'll let you interpret the rest.

Why Every Day Should Be Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! For the past 43 years, people have been spending this day raising environmental awareness. It's not the only day to be environmentally conscious; it's an annual reminder to take care of our planet. What we do every day is more important than what we do on Earth Day. It's more than just reducing, reusing, and recycling. It's about living a lifestyle that is the most harmonious with nature. This awesome planet is our home; the only home we have, so we need maintain its health for future generations.

In honor of Earth Day, here are some pictures of our wondrous planet:




 
 
 
 

Reflections on Resilience

Failure is something that people tend to shy away from.  To some people, it's something they actually fear.  To others, it's a devastating blow to their self confidence and self esteem.  Whenever I fail, at anything, I remember that:
  • Tim Ferriss's book The 4-Hour Workweek was rejected by 26 publishers before it was accepted by the 27th. 
  • Lucille Ball was dismissed from drama school.
  • The Beatles were turned down by Decca Records.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination.
  • Before he became president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight elections.
All of them are profoundly successful in different ways.  I use all their stories to remind myself that failure is a learning opportunity.  It gives me a wake up call or a life lesson to help me reevaluate myself.  It teaches me what I need to differently next time.

Failure is not something to fear, it's something to embrace.


References

Ferriss, Tim . "How a First-Time Author Got a 7-Figure Book Deal." The 4-Hour Workweek and Timothy Ferriss. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2013/04/15/how-to-get-a-book-deal/.

"Famous Failures - YouTube." YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6hz_s2XIAU.

TGIF (a poem)

Ah, workday
we meet again.

Shall we duel?
      Will we fence or use pistols?
Shall I wrestle with to-do lists, e-mails, voicemail messages, and miscellaneous paperwork?

Is today to be a marathon?
An odyssey to survive until 5 o'clock,
hurdling over tasks,
while replenishing myself with the sweet elixir of coffee?

Thanks goodness it's Friday!
I think we shall dance instead.

Why Do People Love Babies?

It's been my experience that people absolutely love little babies.  It's a universal human phenomenon that has perturbed me.  I started finding clues to the puzzle when I had a baby boy of my own a little more than a year ago.  When my son was born, flocks of family and friends came to visit.  They came so frequently as if they commuted by conveyor belt. 

People were obsessed with every little thing about him.  As a newborn, people were drawn to the simple things he did like open his eyes or make some kind of noise.  Every movement was a milestone that warranted everyone's attention.  Not only that, people were obsessed with holding him.  They stood in line like he was the greatest wonder on the planet (he really is though).

When we would go on outings to the grocery store, the mall, or any public place, people would tell my wife and me how utterly adorable our son was.  (It still happens.)  He has always been the scene stealer.  Everyone's attention seems to almost always gravitate towards him.  He doesn't even try, he just his his natural curious, playful, and silly self.  (I must admit, at home, he loves getting the attention of my wife and I, but he is super shy in public.)

It amazes me to see how much people babies.  As more and more of my friends enter the realm of parenthood I see the same trend happen with their kids.  They truly are remarkable little beings.

I could be totally wrong, but I believe that babies pose a powerful symbol.  They represent hope.  They symbolize life and new beginnings.  When people look at them, they see pure untainted innocence; the unspoiled goodness that resides in all of us. 

Maybe we are biologically hard wired to care for the younger generation.  It helps ensure the survival of the species.  It also doesn't hurt that babies are so undeniably cute.

Babies are a subtle reminder that life goes on.  Seeing a baby reminds us that there is a next generation that will lead the Earth, even if we won't be here to see all of it. 

Babies represent all of what is good in humanity while simultaneously bring out the good in all of us.

Dear Friend: "Love is on the Way"

Dear Friend,

I know that you've been practicing a lot of patience.  You've got your career going, live a wonderful day to day life, but I know that you really want someone to love.

It's been on your mind most nights (and I'm assuming most days), but I really want you to know that you shouldn't worry.  Love is on its way, really.

You dont' know it, but it is.  Love is like lightning cause where and when it strikes is pretty unpredictable.  It's also more mysterious and suspenseful than the best written plots.  One really doesn't know it happens until it happens or understand how it happens.  Love simply just happens.

A lot of people say that love happens when you least expect it.  I think that's partially true.  I've seen people find love to people who expect it and don't.  I believe that to find love, people need to have their hearts open to receive it.  People can't find what they don't know they're looking for. 

Sometimes people find their betrothed early in life.  Others meet theirs later in college, graduate school, during their career, or some serendipitous interaction in between.  Some people I know met their husband or wife earlier in life and didn't start dating until much later.  It's different for everyone.  No one ever really knows when it's their time.

There is a piece of advice that I remember Greg Behrendt saying on TV years ago.  He said that dating should come with a warning label because every relationship isn't going to work until a you find the right one.  Realizing that was an empowering moment for me. 

Love hit me like a typhoon in the desert.  I didn't expect it; I hoped for it, and it still came.  Ever since then every day has been jam packed with enlightening moments, beautiful memories, and more that I can merely describe.  That is what is waiting for you too my friend.

Always remember that you have all my support in this roller coaster of an adventure we call life.


Sincerely,

Me

The Importance and Value of Time Alone

Time to oneself is never a waste.  Time to think is time to reflect on life: the day, multiple choices, ideas, interactions, and decisions made and forever done.  Time to medicate allows the stress and weight of the day melt away.  This is the time to sift through thoughts: to let go of dis-empowering ideas and hold onto what houses hope.

This is the opportunity to be free from disorderly distractions.  Time alone is time to be totally oneself without emotional reservation or psychological hesitation.  It practices inner and outer peace.

This is purely time for rest.  It gives bones and muscles an opportunity to rejuvenate.  It helps maintain happiness.

Time to sit and look outside is an opportunity to reconnect with nature.  Its value is immeasurable; a treasure of the human heart.

It may not look like it, but it's a complex rejuvenating process that more and more people need to understand.

How a Dirty Windshield Reminded Me the Importance of Maintaining a Clear Perspective

This may sound ridiculous, but this is actually serious.  For the longest time I didn't clean the windshield of my car.  I don't even remember how long ago I last cleaned it (maybe a month or two).  It has been so long that the glass had a protective layer of dirt.  I didn't think anything of it since I was still able to see enough to drive.  I really should have cleaned it much earlier; it probably was a huge safety hazard.

The other day I finally cleaned wiped the windshield with the gas station squeegee while I was filling up on gas.  When I sat back inside the driver's seat, the view was remarkable.  The view was drastically different without the dust coating.  It was like I had a brand new windshield.  As I drove out of the gas station parking lot, I felt like it was a new day with a new car.

This gave me a wake up call not just about driving, but life in general.

The world is how I see it.  It's only as clear to me as my perspective.  Driving, I could only see as well as how clean my windshield was.  The dirtier it was, the more tainted my perspective was.  By neglecting my windshield for so long, I didn't even notice how dirty it was or how impaired my vision was.  In order to truly see what's in front of me (both in driving and seeing everything with my own eyes), I need to make sure that my lens is as clean as possible.  I also need to regularly clean my lens to help ensure I have a clear perspective.  By doing so, I am able to focus on what really matters.   

Lunchtime Luxury (a poem)

In this noon hour,
     I'm alone.

The swaying tree
      puts me both
           in the shade
           and warmed by the sun.

There is no music,
      no beeps of phones,
      no television noise or radio sounds;
           just the wind blowing.

I wonder what sunlight
      would sound like
           if it had a sound.

Right now there is peace with no one around.
There is serenity in the solitary,
and for now
      this is what my soul craves.

Realizations from Waiting in Line at Disneyland

Sometimes I hate being told to be patient.  Often waiting feels like naive passivity.  In today's contemporary society, being extremely urgent is highly smiled upon.  People like their food, drinks, cars, smart phones, notifications, and anything else with a turnaround time fast.  It seems like more and more people want everything faster faster.  With this phenomenon becoming more prevalent, I'm amazed that Disneyland is still in business.

Disneyland may be "the happiest place on Earth," but it's also ridiculously expensive and almost unbearably crowded.  It blows my mind that people (myself included; I have an annual passport) will pay $87-$125 a day to stand in line for a significant majority of it.

As I stood in line to ride the Astro Orbitor with my family this past weekend, I was starting to grow impatient.  Then I stopped and laughed at myself.  I knew what I was getting myself into.

Every time my family and I go to Disneyland, we go through a seemingly almost endless cycle of lines.  When we park our car, we have to wait in line to enter the parking lot.  Then we have to stand in line to get onto the bus or tram to get tot he park entrance. (If we park in the parking structure, we usually have to wait in another line to use the elevator since we have a stroller and those aren't allowed on the escalators.)  Before we even get to the front gate, we have to get in line for the security checkpoint.  After that, there is an unpredictably long or short line at the front get of the park to get in.  Once we're inside, doing anything requires standing in line: rides, restaurants, shops, taking pictures with the cast, or using the restrooms.  Sometimes it's so crowded that even walking around feels like standing in line. 

As I subtly laughed at myself in line, I realized that there were deeper lessons to be learned. 

By waiting in long lines, I was teaching my son to share.  Like any typical 18 month old, he didn't want to wait in line before most of the rides and he cried every time we got off one.  Whenever he acted up, my wife and I always talked with him about sharing; we share the fun rides with everyone.  By waiting in line and getting off when we're done, we let other people have their turn on all the rides. 

Waiting in line also helped us practice delay gratification.  It's an important life skill to have.  Having to wait in line for a ride didn't mean that we weren't ever going to be on the ride.  It would come eventually if we had the patience and persistence for it.  That applies not only to the Indiana Jones Adventure or Pirates of the Caribbean, but anything in life.  Delaying gratification allows us to avoid short term temptations of the here and now and increases our chances of achieving our long term goals.  It reminds us that wonderful things are worth the wait.  Hopefully it's a life skill that my son learns gracefully.

Why It's Important to Take Time Off While Being Sick

Right now, I'm learning a lesson in humility.  This past weekend I became ill with a cold and a nasty cough.  I felt weak.  My throat was sore.  I didn't sleep throughout the night since I constantly woke up coughing.  Being the tough guy I usually think I am, I went into work yesterday thinking it was no big deal.  I wanted to show off that I was a hardcore employee dedicated to my job, but that's not how it worked out. 

The whole day seemed like a daze.  I was pretty focused, but at times I wasn't as focused as I usually am (obviously).  Sometimes what I said wasn't as clear as I intended. I also made simple mistakes that any other day I would consider careless.  When I felt fine, I pushed myself to get more done, but then ended up so tired that I felt like I was dying. 

I was so fatigued last night that I reluctantly took today off.  It ended up being a gift to me.  I actually got to sleep in and rest in the comforts of home.  I'm still under the weather, but I'm rejuvenated enough to tackle everything at work tomorrow.

I guarantee that tomorrow I'll be more focused, productive, (and WAY happier) than yesterday and today combined.

Quotes of the Week

From time to time, a piece of wisdom serendipitously finds me.  They may be read, told, or discovered in random places, but now they're shared:















Flint and Stone (a wonderfully written poem)

Let's talk about something undeniably real;
some part of a bigger thing that makes us feel
touched, warm, uplifted,
      and have broken people heal.

Let's discuss how we can create
something definitely wonderful
      that will be utterly beautiful
      and generously plentiful.

Let's share love and hope;
silly, powerful, and true.
It's not to be spoiled away or wasted,
but to be given as the presents of now.

Let's create something absolutely good,
amplify it, intensify it,
      and let it multiply infinity.

Let's ignite a spark
that illuminates the dark.

The Battles in My Mind

There are three demons haunting my mind.

Fear is paralyzing me.  It's keeping me in the "safe zone." It keeps me from trying or wanting more for myself.  It tells me to be suspicious of what others think.  It makes me over-analyze every interaction and every word spoken to me.  Fear terrorizes me and makes me a prisoner within my own mind.

Anger bullies me from time to time.  It's like it wants to keep me away from happiness.  It prevents me from connecting with other human beings.  It's a cancer that poisons my bloodstream with nasty thoughts.  Anger clouds my judgment and puts myself and everyone around me in harm's way.

Doubt likes to be a saboteur.  It trips up my plans, goals, and largest dreams.  Doubt likes to play games with my confidence.  It is arguably the most mischievous of the demons; it plays with my hopes and fears like marionettes. 

Luckily the angels in my mind are fighting for my sanity and soul. 

Hope puts Fear in its place.  It pins Fear down with its bare hands.  Hope tells me to keep going and hold on for a moment longer.  It believes in possibility.  It believes in the goodness of the world.  It believes in justice and wild dreams of the imagination.

Love scares Anger away.  It doesn't even have to fight it.  Love's mere presence flushes out Anger in a flurry.  Love keeps Anger and all its friends away.  It is arguably the most powerful force known to humankind.  It brings people together, offers them safety and comfort.  Love brings friendship and companionship to otherwise a very lonely world.

Faith tells me to "trust me."  It tells me that everything will get better, even if the outlook doesn't look like it. Faith is the most misunderstood of all the angels.  Faith is the reason why people believe in everything and anything.

Sometimes the demons win, but fortunately most times they don't.  Other times they have the upper hand, but the angels are ALWAYS strong enough to win. 

What Can Be Learned From Watching a One Year Old on a Nature Hike

This weekend I finally got (in my opinion) a well deserved break.  I got a chance to be detached from the stresses of work and recharge.  One of my favorite ways of keeping myself down to Earth is visiting nature, so I took my family on a nature hike.

To enjoy an afternoon together we went to the North Etiwanda Preserve in Southern California. It's a loop trail plenty of indigenous plants of the area.  There are usually plenty of people there exercising or taking a leisurely stroll with their family or significant other.  I really needed this retreat with my wife and one year old son.

My son is an 18 month old explorer.  When we first got to the small parking lot, he wanted to look down at the rocks.   Then when we got on to the trail, he wanted to look at and touch every rock that came in front of him.  (Keep in mind, this is a nature trail; there is an extreme abundance of rocks.)  Every once in a while we stopped so he could stare at a plant or feel the wind blow by.

With his little legs, it took us about an hour to travel 0.25 miles (0.4 km).  In that time, I wanted to go farther in the trail, but we didn't because of my little curious one.  I wanted to tell my son to stop doing what he was doing and hurry up, but I didn't.  It hit me.

In his own way, my son was teaching me how to live.  By being his innocent and purely intentional self, he reminded me of some life lessons.   

By consistently stopping and examining what was right in front of him, he reminded me to appreciate what was right in front of me.  I've seen countless rocks in my lifetime and I didn't really bother to look at them;  I just wanted to keep going.  My son saw that each rock was uniquely different, which is why he wanted to examine each one.  Whether it's a rock, a leaf on the ground, a friend, or an extra moment in the day, I need to remember to see exactly what's right in front of me and appreciate it.

My son had no sense of urgency.  He just took his time exploring the nature around him.  For most of the hike, I wanted him to hurry up so we could get farther up the trail before it got dark.  Towards the end, I realized it was ridiculous of me to rush him.  We had no real set deadlines there.  No time limits.  There was no real reason to rush.  I was just used to rushing.  I rush before work to get ready for work.  I rush at work to get as much done as possible.  I rush home to spend as much time with my family before the cycle starts again the next day.  Just by being himself, he reminded me to relax and take my time.

At the end of the trip, I felt more rejuvenated.  Spending time with my family while being out in nature was well worth it.