The Morning Checkin
By Clay Johnson
A quick morning podcast to help you start your day as a producer, rather than a consumer. Spend a few minutes stretching, centering, and writing so that you can make the day rather than letting the day make you. Bring a pen and paper for this podcast. You'll need it.
Figure it out
Sometimes figuring it out isn't all it's cracked up to be
May 18, 2022
The Gift of Forgiveness
You know when people stepped on my toes or wronged me in the slightest, it used to upset me for a long time. Years. And I'll tell you, the surface area of where I could get hurt was disproportionate to my actual size: if people voted a certain way or believed a certain thing, it hurt me. If people sent their kid to a school with a particular name, it hurt me. Personally. And if I'm honest, I wanted that hurt. I wanted to be in a constant state of outrage because it made me feel powerful. Important. Bigger than. It took me too long to realize that grudges will kill me. That sense of power I get, not just over being right, over being wronged. I used to cling to that because it made me feel powerful, and like other people were just hugely immoral compared to me. Here's the thing about outrage -- it destroys us at the cellular level. Recent research shows that it leads to mitochondrial level. It starts screwing with our hormones, and that can spill into our blood stream and cause actual disease including hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Not to mention stress coping mechanisms like drug and alcohol abuse and all the problems that spill into that. It's taken me a long time to learn that outrage is a drug and an emotion that I can not afford to hold on to for very long. It's taken me even longer to realize that the only way through it is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a wellness gift I can give myself Just like exercise or a healthy meal, I have to practice forgiveness -- even if the other person never knows they're forgiven. It's required for my survival to forgive.
May 17, 2022
Stuart Smalley. Remember him? That character Al Franken played on SNL? He made kind of a mockery of this idea that if you just look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you're good enough, smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like you, then it would all happen. I'll confess something to you now, so we can get it out of the way. I've tried it. And I mean I've looked at myself in the mirror and really tried to sell it. And maybe I'm just too cynical. Maybe I'm just a bad salesman. But I look in that mirror and tell myself that I'm good enough and can't help but just think of the ridiculousness of it all. But I do wonder what would happen if I did believe all that stuff. Focus on your breathing. What if you believed there was nothing wrong with you? What if everything around you was perfectly acceptable as it is? Why are you beautiful? What are you grateful for?
May 16, 2022
Good Morning! This sunday podcast has turned into a place for me to spiritually center myself on a weekly basis. It's a place for me to take a deep breath, relax, and take an inventory of what is and is not inside of my control. Where I can express gratitude to the miracle of coincidences it took for me to exist in this moment in time, and release my expectations for those people, places, and things around me that may not do exactly what I want them to do. I start with my body. I spend the week kind of beating my body up. But I am grateful for it this morning. I'm grateful for my breath. My ability to stretch. I'm going to do that now by reaching up to the sky. I'm grateful that my knees, shoulders, hips, and elbows all seem to be in working order. And I'm grateful that all five of my senses seeming to work just fine. Then I move on to my people, places, and things. I'm grateful for my family, my two little boys and my wife. I'm grateful for my friends and family around me, and I'm grateful for all the people who have led me to this point in my life -- even those that may have hurt or upset me. Because without any of that, I wouldn't be here today. And finally I'm grateful to be here in this moment today. The miraculous set of cosmic coincidences it took to have me exist, right here, at this moment. Every driver on the road that chose to stay on his side of the street, not just for myself, but for my parents and my grandparents and great grandparents, all the way back to wherever we came from --- those miraculous coincidences that led to right now, me here, speaking into a microphone, to you for this podcast. What a miracle it all is, and how grateful I am for it. And I'm grateful for you, too, dear listener. I'm grateful to be of service to you, and I hope you enjoy your day. I have no questions for you today, but rather a request: spend the next minute contemplating gratitude. What can you be grateful for, and how vast is that space for you. Take the minute, and I'll talk to you tomorrow on the morning checkin podcast.
May 15, 2022
The Weekly Wrapup
The Saturday Wrap-up
May 14, 2022
Those that know me know that I'm in recovery. Truth be told I've always been a bit uncomfortable with the term. It feels too much like a label to me, and I struggle with the term because, well, it hasn't been my experience that I've recovered. To recover means to go back to how things were. To rehabilitate. If I recover from a broken leg, it means I can walk again. Recover has a past tense: recovered. That doesn't make sense because recovering is a constant process. I find that after I'm better now than I was then. For me recovery is like breaking your leg, putting in the work, and being able to to run marathons. Recovery isn't about going back, it's about going forward better than ever. There's a second definition of recovery I enjoy a bit better, and that is a reclaimation of something lost. We recover the treasure lost at the bottom of the sea. In recovery, we recover our spirit, or true selves lost to whatever plight we went through. This definition of recovery is great because it can be extended beyond people suffering from addiction or disease. Anyone that's gone through a divorce, breakup, through a job loss or workplace issue, or even just parenting can benefit from a recovery process, so that they can reclaim what was once theirs.
May 13, 2022
The Long Spoon Story
One day a man said to God, “God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like. God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large round table with a large pot of stew. It smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water, but the people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. God said, “You have seen Hell.” Behind the second door, the room appeared exactly the same. There was the large round table with the large pot of wonderful stew that made the man’s mouth water. The people had the same long-handled spoons, but they were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The man said, “I don’t understand.” God smiled. “It is simple,” He said, “Love only requires one skill. These people learned early to feed one another. Those who are hungry are greedy people, and they think only of themselves.
May 12, 2022
Sometimes I find myself in a real bind because of the obligation industrial complex that takes root in my head. I find myself going from manufactured obligation to obligation wondering where all my time went and how what once was a joyus thing turned into something obligatory and then turned into a resentment. The word obligation comes from latin. From the word ob which is latin for to, and ligare, which means to bind. When we obligate, we bind ourselves to something or someone. We literally tie ourselves up in obligations. But if I take a serious inventory of my obligations, I can distinguish between bindings that I've made for myself out of some made up sense of responsibility, and obligations I've actually made to other people. For me, the former usually outweighs the latter, significantly. Some obligations are so nefarious we don't even know we've made them. For instance, I am not obligated to give a quick or immediate response to every question asked, or every request made of me. In fact. I am not obligated to reply at all. There are a ton of obligations that I take on that can be modified or even abandoned. And those obligations can often mean more freedom and a better ability to think clearly.
May 11, 2022
Time Traveling Adventures
I feel like sometimes I'm the worst time traveler in the world. No matter how hard I try, I cannot reverse time. I remember during COVID I spent so much time looking forward to when we would go *back* to normal. And I'm still waiting to be able to walk through Airport Security with my shoes on since September 11th 2001. I also spent a lot of time in my 30s trying to go back to my 20s, and a lot of time in my 40s trying to go back to my 30s. Phew, that got dark! And yet somehow as a failed time traveller, I also spend a lot of time in the future. What if nobody listens to my podcast. What if a company I launch is successful and I get too many clients. What if my children don't get into the right college. What if there's another COVID outbreak during a family vacation? Neither of these situations are particularly useful for me. If I dwell too much on the past, I I feel like the landscape of my timeline has shifts to downhill, and I'm just clawing to stay in the past, without acknowledging my terrain has shifted. To stay present, I have to let go of my past, I gotta get centered. I gotta practice gratitude for the here and now, and I gotta stop worrying about what could go wrong, and start helping things go right.
May 10, 2022
The Set Aside Prayer
12 Step programs have something pretty useful called the Set Aside Prayer, and I'd like to share some of it with you. It goes something like this: Please help me set aside everything I *think* I know about myself, what I'm going through and especially you, so that I may have an open mind and a new experience of all these things. Please let me see the truth. I find that most of the time when I'm trying to figure out the right course of action, I'm plagued by limiting beliefs -- ideas that I've learned through long forgotten experiences that may no longer serve me well. Sometimes I presume malice is the culprit to my maladies when ignorance or apathy more more likely cases. Sometimes I see distinct choices when mutual exclusivity does not exist. Sometimes, I hold on to resentment without knowing what the resentment is. Sometimes I think problems can be solved with by asking if, when they can be solved by asking how. Sometimes I believe people are obsessed about my actions and my daily life as much as I am. Whether I believe in god or not, a prayer for change in *my* perspective requires no external party. And in this case the The set aside prayer helps me reset, and say goodbye to my accumulated luggage for a particular situation, and step into it with a fresh set of eyes.
May 09, 2022
Good morning. Happy mothers day. Mothers day can be a lot. The older I get, the sadder the holiday becomes -- the day transitions from a day of celebrating moms of the present, to mourning moms that have passed. But love and grief are intertwined. To steal from the television show WandaVision, What is grief, if not love persevering? Grief *is* love, and if we can learn to celebrate that grief, we can turn it into gratitude and sometimes into joy. Grief can be a tidal wave that drowns us if we let it, but we can also let it carry us through. If you're sad today and missing your mom, take a minute and celebrate that grief in its true nature, love. If you're celebrating your mom today, take a minute and enjoy this moment and practice gratitude for this moment -- one day you might not, and might only be able to express that love through grief. And if you're a mom, take a break from the obligations. Let no sentence you speak to yourself start with the words "I should." Accept our love and gratitude as we celebrate you today. Hi Mom! Thanks for being one of my many half dozens of listeners. I love you very much.
May 08, 2022
The Weekly Wrapup
Saturday is the close of the week. We're wrapping up. I asked you on Monday to imagine today and describe what an incredible week might look like. Unlike most days on the morning checkin podcast where we look ahead, today we're going to be looking back and reflecting the week we've had. Let's take a deep breath and give our minds permission to reflect. To imagine each day as it happened, as though we were an impartial observer. To acknowledge the week has gone by, and tomorrow we will start again. I'll give you a minute here to reflect and center your mind. Let's get ready to write. I'll ask you a question and give you a minute to answer each one. Ok, now let's get ready to write. I'll give a couple of minutes after each question. Feel free to press pause after each question to give yourself some extra time. I'd recommend not fast forwarding through this though. Take the additional time to get centered. What stopped you this week?
May 07, 2022
A simple story about a man and his fish
May 06, 2022
Gotta Be Starting Somethin
I love starting new things. New projects, new businesses, new whatever. I live for that. There's just something about having a metaphorical blank slate. I have a *ton* of email addresses, and a bunch more internet domains, all because I'm kind of an internet guy, and a new domain means a new frontier. Correspondingly I have a hard drive filled with half made apps and websites, a garage full of tools and materials and half built projects, and folders filled with half baked ideas. You might be asking yourself why I don't finish these projects. Why there's so much unfinished. Honestly, the first reason is because I don't like ending things. I hate when I fall in love with a good meal because I know it has to end. I love listening to a good song, but I want more verses. But more importantly, it's not that I don't like ending things. It's that starting new things is what I do in order to figure out what is worth doing. And if that means there's detritus from those projects that failed, didn't materialize, or didn't hold my interest long enough to do, then so be it. There's so much beauty and pleasure in the empty canvas that the paint that I put down has to keep me from wanting to pick up a new one.
May 05, 2022
The Race Car Shopping Cart
When they were little -- say 4 and 2, my boys loved going to the grocery store with me because it was an opportunity to ride in a race car. See, my grocery store here has these shopping carts, and they're huge. And they've got big, plastic race car like things for the kids to ride in bolted to them. They're two seaters. As if to acknowledge the illusion, each seat has its own steering wheel. The children have no problem with this. They don't even realize the bizarreness of a race car with two, completely independent steering wheels and how that alone might be an indicator that the steering wheels might not actually steer. And we'd cruise down the aisles, and my boys would happily play with these steering wheels while I did the actual work of moving them through the store. Occasionally a boy would pop his head out the car window, look up, and say "Dad go that way" and turn the wheel accordingly. Sometimes -- especially if we were headed that way anyways -- I'd accomodate his request. Other times, I'd tell him we weren't going that way. He'd get frustrated and wait, and then try again to tell me which way to go. At every left right turn it had a 50 50 chance of being the right choice and sometimes, give him the feeling of control, or being the wrong choice, and being reminded that the whole experience was just a ruse to make the ride a little less boring for him. This is my relationship with the universe. I constantly fall for the illusion of agency. That the steering wheel works, despite the fact that all of my brothers and sisters have identical steering wheels. When the cart goes where I want it to go, I feel a surge of power, because it's evidence that I have the agency I crave. But just as soon as that agency becomes a certainty, the cart turns in a different direction, reminding me that I'm not the one in charge
May 04, 2022
Lateness and Pride
I'm late. Usually I make these just a day ahead of time to release at 6am. Today, this isn't being released until well after 9am. I hate being late. It is probably my least favorite feeling. I get filled with anxiety and guilt because I feel like I'm stealing moments of precious life from people when I'm late for them. But maybe I also am never late because it gives me a powerful hill to stand on and lord over others. With my feelings so of guilt for being late for others comes a parallel feeling of self-righteousness when others are late for me. How dare they! I would never! I get to say. Well, today I'm late. And maybe I need to learn a lesson and reflect on the attributes of my character, and what I'm really getting out of them. Maybe my assets have a dark side and I need to let that go. Maybe this is what they mean by pride is the sin that begets all others.
May 03, 2022
There was an old man in a village who was just completely unlucky. His luck was so bad nobody wanted to deal with him anymore. He constantly whined and complained and was always a grump. It wasn't directly his fault -- he was a true victim of circumstance. And as time progressed he got more and more toxic. He was filled with anger and bile and people seemed to think his misfortune was contagious. It actually seemed rude to be happy near him. But then he turned 80 and the man turned it around. He wore a smile on his face. He stopped complaining. He looked 10 years younger! The villagers took the old man aside and asked the man what happened. They were worried he'd gotten sick! He told the village: 80 years I've been chasing happiness and it's been useless. So I gave up on happiness and decided to just enjoy living. That's why I'm happy now.
May 02, 2022
The Prayer of St. Francis
Make me an instrument of peace Where there is hatred, let me sow love Where there is injury, let me pardon; Where there is doubt, let be bring faith Where there is despair, let me bring hope Where there is darkness, let me bring light Where there is sadness, let me bring joy Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console To be understood as to understand To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive It is in pardoning that we are pardoning And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May 01, 2022
The Weekly Wrapup
Good morning! Let's get our bodies settled, shall we? Take a second and stretch. Reach your arms way up as high as you can reach them. Now relax. Roll your head once to the left, and once to the right. Now take three deep breaths. One Two Three Saturday is the close of the week. We're wrapping up. I asked you on Monday to imagine today and describe what an incredible week might look like. Unlike most days on the morning checkin podcast where we look ahead, today we're going to be looking back and reflecting the week we've had. Let's take a deep breath and give our minds permission to reflect. To imagine each day as it happened, as though we were an impartial observer. To acknowledge the week has gone by, and tomorrow we will start again. I'll give you a minute here to reflect and center your mind. Let's get ready to write. I'll ask you a question and give you a minute to answer each one. Ok, now let's get ready to write. I'll give a couple of minutes after each question. Feel free to press pause after each question to give yourself some extra time. I'd recommend not fast forwarding through this though. Take the additional time to get centered. What stopped you this week? What lit you up this week? Other than time, what do you need more of next week? Last Question: what are you grateful for today? If you did all seven days in a row this week, thank you. Your support in this new project has been wonderful. I've really appreciated all the kindness and love that you've sent my way. Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you again tomorrow on the Morning Checkin Podcast.
April 30, 2022
Another episode about the backpack
April 29, 2022
This week we've been talking about the various thought patterns in my head that I've been able to recognize. There's the prosecutor, who is always looking out wrongdoers around me. There's the defender, who justifies my usually bad actions. And today I Want to talk to you about other people. What other people? Anyone. Maybe it's a family. An old coworker. Some guy I that cut me off in traffic. They'll usually appear when I'm in the shower, or driving or frankly, somewhere there's not a screen. Or somewhere my mind can idle. My mind will summon them, and they will be right there with me, and we will commence the argument. There, in full affect, naked and alone in the shower, the prosecutor and the defense attorney work together and I tell them what's what! The arguments are always the same. And I get trapped in them. Sometimes, I feel power with every witty comeback I'll never say. False pride and power courses through me. Other times, I summon an other to flog me. To replay events of my mistakes and past actions for no reasons other than to torture myself. I find that the continued presence of an other is often an indicator that I am spiritually sick. If I am in the shower, mumbling at someone that isn't there, no matter what the cause, that means there's something I can't accept, and something I need to clean up. Fortunately, acknowledging why they're in the shower usually makes them disappear. If not, it's an indicator that I've got something to clean up or a relationship to repair.
April 28, 2022
This week we're talking about the personified patterns that live in my head that maybe you share in common with me. Yesterday, I talked about the prosecutor. Today I will talk about his brother, the defense attorney. The defense attorney's job is to look for reasonable explanations for my behavior or reasons why I might have done something others have perceived as wrong. If a piece of trash flies out the window of my car, the defense attorney jumps into action and starts explaining that the aerodynamics of the car were designed wrong, and the real culprit in this litterbug case is probably Chrysler, not me. Or if I step on someone's toes, my defense attorney wonders why someone would be so foolish as to place their feet underneath them. Of course, my defense attorney is a real piece of work because, well, when he's justifying my actions, I'm already guilty. The very word justify means "to make right," and one needn't make anything right that isn't crooked to start with. So I learn to recognize when my defense attorney is in overdrive because it usually means I've done something I feel is wrong, that I need to take responsibility for something, and make amends as soon as I possibly can. Otherwise the weight of guilt or contempt gets to be too much for me to handle.
April 27, 2022
Yesterday I spent some time talking about my thoughts. That some of my thoughts tend to arrange themselves into patterns, and it's helpful for me to personify them and give them names. One of the most vicious of these voices is the prosecutor. The prosecutor's role is noble enough. Look for things that have hurt me, and get me to either fight or flee whatever it is that has its attention. This serves a noble purpose: to keep me from getting hurt or losing the resources I need in order to survive. My problem is that sometimes the prosecutor thinks he's batman. And like, let's be honest, batman is kind of a nutjob. My prosecutor is always on the lookout for wrongdoers -- people who have wronged me, people who have wronged other people, or people who are just wrong, and seeks to punish them to the fullest extent of the law. You don't get a slap on the wrist or written warning for batman. Left to his own devices, the prosecutor can not only make my life miserable by delivering harsh judgment on just about anyone less than perfect except myself, he can cause me to forget where I end and others begin, by trying to prosecute for *them* without their requests. That's why he has a name. So I can recognize him, and say "oh, that's just my prosecutor, doing his thing." Once I name him, I can recognize him and usually stop him from putting on his cowl. It's also why I like practicing gratitude. If I feed the prosecutor gratitude, it's tough for him to get too crazy.
April 26, 2022
Who Lives in my Head?
The practice of meditation helped me understand that the voice in my head isn't me. If I meditate, I can recognize those thoughts as something that happens inside of me, but those thoughts are separate from me. It's like the difference between being immersed in a movie, vs noting that I'm absorbing photons bouncing off a screen into my eyes, and feeling the vibrations of air molecules against my ear drum. I am not *really* in the movie. I am watching it. I am not *really* in my thoughts, I am receiving them. When I choose this perspective, I have to wonder: who am I? Well, I think I am the one receiving these thoughts, and choosing which ones to tune into and which ones to skip past. I'm the one choosing to commit to my action and attitude based on my chosen reception. I can also note that there are common elements to some of these thoughts in my head. I like to think of them as voices. When they get to be fairly reliable, I give them names. I have a scorekeeper, a prosecutor, a judge, a defense attorney, a clown, and a whole host of other characters living in my head. And we'll talk about some of them over the next few days.
April 25, 2022
Airports make me into the worst possible version of myself. From long before I get to the airport, I'm stressed out about missing my flight to making sure I have everything packed. On the way to the airport, the people on the road ahead of me are mere objectivied obstacles. And once I'm in the door in the TSA line, I'm making horrible judgments about the people ahead of me and how they're probably just stupid idiots who don't even know they have to take their shoes off or aren't competent enough to take off a belt quickly enough. And it does not stop until I get *off* the plane at my final destination, because obviously the fools in the seats in front of me can't get off the plane right either. And it's all because I must get to the gate 2 hours ahead of time because... I don't know why. I am just completely insane with that idea. I've never missed a flight, so I have no idea what happens when you actually miss one. But my instincts tell me it's pretty bad. The reason I hate it is pretty simple: it's the process I go through that I can control the absolute least of. I can't control traffic. I can't control the TSA or the FAA. I can't control the people in the security line. I can't control the airport. Or the airplane. Or the flight attendants or the pilot. There's just so much I cannot control in such a condensed period of time that I lose my mind, every single time time. Maybe I need to use the airport to challenge the best possible version of myself. To forgive rather than to be forgiven. To love rather than hate. To not just worry about what could go wrong, but to do my best to help things go right. Ok. Let's let our minds settle down for a little bit. Take a minute here to let your mind wander and go where it wants to go. Then I'm going to ask you some questions for the week ahead. Ok. Are you ready for your questions? I'll ask you your question and give you a minute after each one to write or reflect on each one. Here we go with the first question: 1. Where will you struggle most this week? 2. How can you help things go right this week? 3. Where and when are you the best possible version of yourself? 4. How might we see that version of you more often? Thanks for listening. I'll talk to you tomorrow on the Morning Checkin Podcast.
April 24, 2022
Well, it's that time again. Time to close out the week and review. One day a week we take a look back rather than forward. So take a minute and think about the week behind us. Let your mind go over each day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I'll give you a minute here to reflect on your week and then we'll start with our review questions. Can you list ten things that happened that you're grateful for this week? I asked you on Monday what would make this week a good one. How well did you accomplish your vision? Did you develop any long-term resentments this week? Ok deep breath. Do you owe anybody any apologies? How can you bring joy to your weekend? Thanks for listening. I can't wait to start another week with you tomorrow on the Morning Checkin Podcast. Talk to you then.
April 23, 2022
Good morning friend! I've got a good feeling about today. I think as long as we keep doing this checking-in thing, it's going to go great. The spring weather is really hitting its stride here in where I live. We have a few precious weeks of 70 degree weather in April before the Sun begins its nuclear oppression of our outside. Yeterday I took my dog Scout out to a small empty lot in my neighborhood and she just tore off running through it. She looked so happy, her big ears flopping around and her tail wagging. She'd stop, look at me, wait for me to move, and then spring into action again, racing around me. She is exactly in that moment, and you can tell. She doesn't worry about when days like this will end. Or what if she runs too fast. Or what if she doesnt have enough food, or what if anything. The idea of "what if" does not exist for her. And I think her face is filled with delight as a result. What if I gave up on What If. What if I just accept that right now, at this moment, I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. What if I stop trying to control the future and start living in the day? And what if I start dealing with problems when they come rather than dealing with imaginary problems in the future? What if I worry about failure when I'm failing, rather than never trying? If I did that, could I be as happy as my dog on a beautiful spring day? Sign me up for that.
April 22, 2022
Sometimes, it's best to just know if it works
You know, I really like to figure stuff out. To pull it apart. When I was about 7 or 8, I took my dad's coffee maker apart with a screwdriver because I wanted to know how it worked. Most of my career has been about figuring out how stuff works, and figuring out better ways to do something. But figuring stuff out isn't all its cracked up to be. Sometimes you can figure stuff out wrong. And make some bad assumptions. And we can get stuck with those assumptions for a really long time. Second: William Gibson famously said that any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And sometimes I find it more usefu, or at least more fun to believe in magic. And finally, sometimes when we figure stuff out, it loses its power, or even its purpose. Sometimes to understand how something works means we lose its purpose. Try, for instance, explaining a joke to someone, and then telling it again. Or reading a whodunit while knowing who did. I've recently had to learn that it's ok to just leave some stones unturned, and to instead work hard to preserve the mystery of the stuff that just works.
April 21, 2022
Good morning, Let's take a minute and stretch ourselves. First, take your right arm and reach it up to the sky. Keep it up there and bring your left up to meet it. Now, clasp your hands together and bend to the right, then to the left, and maybe fold forward for just a second to stretch your back out. Now let's do a couple neck rolls. There's this show I love from the 90s called "Northern Exposure," which takes place in a small town in Alaska. The show has a broad cast of characters, and one of the characters is a local DJ and Artist named Chris. When I was a kid, I always wanted to grow up to be like Chris. In one episode, Chris decides he wants to create a pure artistic moment, by taking a cow, putting it in a catapult, and flinging it across a field. Chris spends forever finding a cow with the right kind of spirit for his scheme. He finally finds one, and puts his plan into motion. Then, one day his film buff friend Ed hears of his plan and gets excited. This is going to be awesome, he says! Just like when they catapulted those cows in Monty Python! Chris is crushed. He thought he was going to create something pure and original, only to have it reduced to a recycled joke from a movie. He sulks. But eventually, he finds a new thing to put in his catapult. His friend Maggie's old piano, from her home, that burned down in the same episode. He gathers the towns people together and tells them that there's one thing he's learned here, and this is absolutely key: It's not the thing you fling. It's the fling itself.
April 20, 2022
The Limits of our imagination
About 20 years ago (give or take), scientists found a new, virtually untouched tribe of people in Papua new Guniea. This was a tribe of people that had never seen or heard of any modern technology. So somebodoy in the group decided it would be a good idea to take a couple of these newly discovered tribespeople to Singapore and guage their reactions. So they took them to Singapore and showed them the skyscrapers. And the roads. And the airplanes. And the hospitals. And all the incredible things they had to offer. Then they asked the visitors what they saw that was the most incredible to them. The visitors were very excited and unanimous in their agreement for what they thought was the most amazing thing in Singapore: the wheelbarrow. They had seen some construction workers moving bricks with a wheelbarrow, and were amazed at its power and awesomeness and were scheming about how they could build themselves one. Their imaginations did not take them towards making up stories about who is in the skyscrapers, or the metal canisters in the sky, or the automobiles or the funny clothing people wore. Their imaginations drew them to the wheelbarrow. The thing that could solve a big problem for them! We're no better than those tribespeople. We're all in some kind of tribe. And we're all drawn to some kind of wheelbarrow. Sometimes it causes us great joy, and other times it causes us to miss out.
April 19, 2022
Energy Seeks its own Level
Emotions sure are contagious. If someone comes to me screamin and hollerin, my first instinct is to scream and holler back. If someone is sad, I'm sad too. If I am not alert, then whatever energy level someone comes at me with, is the energy I've got. If they're happy, I'm happy. If they're serene, I'm serene. But what's neat about it is that it works the other way around. Be the possibility of unflappable joy, and you'll find the people around you are joyous. And if you're impossibly cynical, it won't take long before you're around a bunch of impossibly cynical compatriots. What that means to me is that emotions have a first mover advantage. If that's the case, then morning rituals like this might be the thing that changes everything, because you get to set your emotional intention to start your day. So set your intention this morning and go forth! Be unflappable joy. Or contagious laughter. And hold that note as long as you can!
April 18, 2022
Say your Prayers
Today I want to talk about a sensitive topic -- that's prayer. Now, a lot of people, when they hear me say the word prayer, what they really hear is the word "God." I don't want to talk about God. This is a 10 minute podcast, we don't have enough time to talk about God. I want to talk about prayer. Because I think prayer works whether we believe in God or not. And that's because most common prayers don't ask God for change his mind, they ask our minds to change. Two common prayers I want to look at today, both do that: The serenity prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. This prayer is asking for me to change. To have the wisdom of discernment and acceptance. Another -- the prayer of St. Francis: Make me an instrument of peace Where there is hatred, let me sow love Where there is injury, let me pardon; Where there is doubt, let be bring faith Where there is despair, let me bring hope Where there is darkness, let me bring light Where there is sadness, let me bring joy Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console To be understood as to understand To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive It is in pardoning that we are pardoning And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. These prayers can be made to god, but they do not require god in order to serve their purpose for you. Don't believe me? Give it a shot. Can't hurt.
April 17, 2022
The Saturday Weekly Wrapup
Well, it's that time again. Time to close out the week and review. One day a week we take a look back rather than forward. So take a minute and think about the week behind us. Let your mind go over each day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I'll give you a minute here to reflect on your week and then we'll start with our review questions.
April 16, 2022
Two Wolves Part 2
There's a Cherokee story I shared awhile ago and I want to return to because I think it's worth thinking about again. It's about two wolves. An old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people between two wolves. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The boy asks which one wins. His grandfather says "The One You Feed." I want to return to this because I think it's important to note that my evil wolf does not play by the rules. My evil wolf, left unwatched, will eat my good wolf's food. And it's in my good wolf's nature to be generous, and not let him have it. My evil wolf also gets hungrier the more he eats. My good wolf can be sated. And my evil wolf hunts. He is always on the lookout for more food. My good wolf is far more selective, and sometimes even needs to be hand fed. It isn't just a matter of just choosing to feed the good wolf. It's about not feeding the evil one. Let's take a minute to let our minds settle, and go where they want to go. Just take a few breaths, and sit and if your mind doesn't want to go anywhere, that's fine too. Just take a minute to get centered, and then we'll start the questions. Are you ready to write? Great. I'll ask four questions today, and give you a minute to write down your answer after each one. If you need more time, feel free to hit pause and take the extra time. But don't fast forward if you finish early. Take the extra moments to relax and center your mind.
April 15, 2022
It's spring cleaning time at our house. Every year we tend to look through our kids rooms, find the clothes they don't fit, and the toys they've outgrown, along with the accumulated grownup junk, and drive it over to donate and sometimes sell. Stuff accumulates, and for some reason it's hard to let go of. I have a box in our garage and it's filled with power adapters to electronic things that have long since passed. And to make matter's worse, my parents downsized, and I ended up with my father's box of power adapters, too. And I'm scared to throw them out, because I know on the day I throw it out, there will be a piece of equipment that needs a specific power adapter that can only be found in those boxes. Fear keeps me from throwing that stuff away. There's also stuff I cling to in my head: Old relationships that have long outlived their usefulness that have turned into public arguments on social media. Agonizing over the actions of a prior version of myself that I've long made amends for. Long-standing resentments that I can get present with and let go. These things are just like those power adapters -- sitting in the box, ready to be hooked up to their phantom electronics, but serving no purpose other than to take up some space in my head. It's time to let them go.
April 14, 2022
Where did the expectation that persistent happiness was the norm come from? I fell for this for quite some time: that if I wasn't happy, most of the time, then there was something wrong with me. The desire to be happy all the time can lead to some really dark places. If I'm not happy, and I believe something's wrong with that, might I start relying on and using unhealthy substances to make me happy? Maybe a pint of ice cream will make me happy. Or a cookie. Or a pill. Or a drink. Or a person. Not happy does not equal unhappy. Not being happy doesn't mean I'm depressed. A good day doesn't need to be a happy day. It can be whatever we want it to be. For me, it means I get to be of service, and not hurt anybody. When I do those two things, that's a good day. And if something makes me happy, that's great, but my days no longer need to meet the benchmark of a singular feeling. And that makes me feel free.
April 13, 2022
I knew a guy named Brian when I lived in Atlanta. Brian was an older gentlmen, in his l ate 60s. He was a baptist, but insisted on everybody calling him Father Brian because he said he looked like a catholic priest. Brian had a... strong theory of how the world should work, and what people needed to do in order to survive. Now, I-285 is probably one of the more congested highways in the United States. It goes all around the sprawling city of Atlanta, and pretty much everyone has to use it in their commute. Brian shared once that he liked to, on a regular basis, get in the left hand lane on I-285, turn his right turn signal on, and drive the speed limit. If you're like me, your blood just boiled. It's like gasoline for resentment. How dare he get in my way. On purpose no less -- this wasn't an act of incompetence like most of the drivers on that highway, this was an act of total maliciousness! Why, it's not just a betrayal of the sacred pact we decent and moral highway drivers make, it's a betrayal of the species as a whole. Except it's not. It's just a man, in the left lane, going the speed limit, with his blinkers on. And while it's annoying, there's a lot in there for me to unpack. How much longer will it actually take for me to get to work if I'm behind him? Is that worth the rage and adrenaline that's coursing through my body? How much of my rage is ego driven, so that I can seize upon someone's wrongness, so that I can feel righteous? How often do I do stuff like this, completely unaware of the people trying to get around me? Let's take a second to calm ourselves down, and recognize that Father Brian is always out there, and as angry as we get, tomorrow, he'll still be on the highway, with his right turn signal on. That's the nature of Father Brian.
April 12, 2022
It's Always Something
Sometimes life feels relentless. A short while ago, one of our cars was parked on the street, and a car hit it. Crashed it up pretty bad. It's been sitting in our garage waiting to go to the shop ever since. On the same day, we got a notice from the manufacturer of our other car that, get this, it should not be parked inside or near any structures, because it could catch on fire at any moment, and that there is no known remedy for the situation. So with two vehicles down, I decided to hop on my bike to go to the grocery store, and the chain fell off. It's always something. Three letters: IAS. Those three words get me through a lot. There's always something to ruin our day if we let it. Instead I like think sometimes maybe we're being given the chance to practice something. Where's the test in all this inconvenience? How might we use these IAS moments as an opportunity to grow? That's why the practice of gratitude is so important. When we practice gratitude, we can just smile and look at the trouble from a different angle: what does this problem give us the opportunity to be grateful for?
April 11, 2022
Nearly everyone I know suffers from some form of impostor syndrome, or feeling like they're some form of fraud just waiting for the shoe to drop -- that they'll be discovered as underqualified or as some kind of malicious idiot in hiding. That they either haven't done the work, or are surrounded by people more qualified than them. That sheer luck and circumstance got them to where they're at and at some point, people will wake up and realize that they've been duped? What if we could dismiss this as a perverse form of arrogance? After all, if we think that we're impostors, in hiding doesn't that also imply that we're so smart and clever that we've duped all our colleagues or friends into thinking that we're of value? That we're surrounded by clueless fools who have so easily succombed to the brilliance of our long con? What if we believed in the universality of impostor syndrome. That every single person we encountered -- from the meek and to the bullies we encounter -- that absolutely everyone around us is afraid to be exposed as not belonging? Could that transform our fear into compassion?
April 10, 2022
Saturday - the Weekly Reflection
Saturday is the close of the week. We're wrapping up. I asked you on Monday to imagine today and describe what an incredible week might look like. Unlike most days on the morning checkin podcast where we look ahead, today we're going to be looking back and reflecting the week we've had.
April 09, 2022
Friday - PAY Attention
Pay attention. That's how we talk about attention. We pay with it, in economic terms. Through that lens, this podcast is costing you your attention. But if I can pay attention, does that mean I can get more of it? How can I expand my attention? If we look at attention through the lens of economics, there must be attention poverty, too. Where we just can't seem to get on top of things, and we're pulled in different directions all the time. And just like economic poverty, if we're not careful, we end up so deep in debt that we lose our agency, sometimes even having to declare bankruptcy. By taking some time to center our day in the morning morning, I think we're performing a kind of attention fitness. This is like a gym for your attention span, and hopefully by practicing centering and focusing every day, we can invest into your attention bank account, and let you spend the rest of your day on solid footing. Nice work.
April 08, 2022
Thursday - The Weight of our Opinions
We often talk about opinions in terms of weight. When an opinion is worth listening to, we say opinion carries weight! But what about the weight it takes to carry the opinions. I used to have an opinion on just about everything from where you should shop, to what you should eat, to how you should drive, and especially who you should vote for. I would often stay up late into the night because someone was wrong on the Internet and only I, the opinionated crusader, could save them from their wrongness. But I learned, probably later than I should, that I don't have to have an opinion on everything. That the more opinions I try to carry, the heavier I feel. But if I let go, and swiftly dodge my instinctual desires to form judgment and opinion on everything, the less work I have to do in my head defending it.
April 07, 2022
Wednesday - The Helmet Story Or Arguments with People Who Are Not There
Grab some paper and a pen. We're going to be talking about arguing with people long after they're gone.
April 06, 2022
Tuesday - Who Would Win?
Good morning! Grab your pen and paper and let's talk about who would win?
April 05, 2022
Monday - Where Are My Shoes?
Grab a pen and paper. This morning we're going to figure out where our feet are!
April 04, 2022
The Sunday Dreads
This show is about that sense of dread you get on Sunday afternoon, as the work week approaches, and what you can do with it. Enjoy, and I'll talk to you tomorrow, on the Monday Morning Podcast!
April 03, 2022
The Morning Check-in Episode 5 - The Backpacks We Carry
This episode is a little more challenging than our regular episodes. It deals with the emotional baggage we carry around, so if you're not up for some harder work, feel free to skip this one. Don't forget your pen and paper!
April 02, 2022
Morning Check-in Episode 4 (Spring)
Spring is in the air. Come practice gratitude with us on the Morning Check-in Podcast. Grab a pen and some paper and let's start our day as producers rather than consumers.
April 01, 2022
The Morning Checkin Podcast Day 3 (Gratitude)
Practice gratitude and plan your day ahead with the Morning Checkin Podcast. Make sure to bring something to write with as we get our day started as producers rather than consumers.
March 31, 2022
Morning Check-in Day 2
It's another Morning Checkin episode! Good morning! Make sure to have a pen and paper with you and let's start today!
March 30, 2022
Morning Checkin Episode 1
Welcome to the Morning Checkin Podcast, a new way to start your day! To get the most out of this episode, you'll need to have a pen and paper with you and be in a safe place to write.
March 29, 2022