Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beliefs: How is that working for you?

I'm re-reading a book called The Gabriel Method: The Revolutionary Diet-Free Way to Totally Transform Your Body. I read it a year or so ago, and the thoughts have helped me become a better eater: I now tend to eat more nutritious foods. I think that has contributed to my lower blood pressure and some weight loss, despite too much celebratory eating of the "free" food that shows up at work.

Stone-scape at Joshua Tree NP

One theme of the book is cultivating the belief that it is safe to be thin. As I went to bed last night, I rehearsed in my mind some of the Bible verses that give me personal assurance the my Heavenly Father "has my back." I slept very well: the best I've slept since school ended last Friday. Ahhh... thanks, I needed that.

Desert Bloom

Today, I came across this paragraph:

"Beliefs can control our entire reality because they act like reality filters. If we believe something is possible or will happen, we open up a range of possibilities to allow particular realities to occur. On the other hand, if we think that something is difficult or impossible to accomplish, we shut ourselves off from the possibilities, thus almost ensuring that an even will not occur. The harder we think something is to achieve, the harder achieving it will become. As the saying goes, argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours. However, the easier we thing something is to achieve, the easier we make it for ourselves." (Page 26).

Grow where you are planted?

How's your reality these days? Time for a belief check? To what extent do you monitor and upgrade your beliefs? Something to ponder...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

360 Miles in a Day: Joshua Tree Day Trip!

Each year, when possible, my cousin Dennis visits from his home in eastern Washington. He usually spends the weekend at my sister's who lives nearby. This year, there was a family BBQ on Saturday (with campfire sing-along and ukulele!)

Over pina colada's and BBQ, Dennis and I planned our second annual Fathers' Day road trip: Joshua Tree National Park here we come!

Joshua Tree catching some rays!

Dennis and I comprise two of the three living men who share the name of our ancestors. His dad and my dad were brothers: the only offspring of their parents. Our dads' each had two girls and a boy. I followed that pattern, and Dennis has not yet married. So, in my mind, this road-trip, which fell again this year on Fathers' Day, is a celebration and a bit of a tribute to our fathers. Theirs was a relationship full of cuts and barbs: call it sibling rivalry, or slight dysfunction: either one fits. Dennis and I get along much better. We share a fair amount of family history, we were both residents of Anaheim until Dennis' family moved to northern California when he was in junior high. We also shared a set of grandparents, and we have a common faith (Christian).

Matt from BC on a boulder 

With the help of Google maps I gauged and semi-planned our 130 mile (each way) trip. Google estimated a two and a half hour drive to the western edge of the park. (I guessed closer to two.) The park itself is about 45 miles wide. The drive was two hours each way. We left Orange County at 8 am, and returned at 7 pm. By my estimates, that means we spent about 6 or 7 hours in the park, sight seeing, picnicking, and visiting with other park visitors. We also took pictures, each of us having taken up as a hobby, the profession and passion of our grandfather.

A view from a "window"

Besides the sights, we conversed at length over various topics. Both of us talk for a living: he's a minister and I'm a teacher. We also struck up "instant" friendships with Matt, a rock climber from British Columbia, Canada, and an unnamed family (mom and two teenagers) from the Netherlands. The National Parks is generally populated with a kind and out-going visitors!

Over the course of the next few blogs, I'll be sprinkling in some of the photos from this road trip. Besides the conversations and the pictures, I also brought home a slight sunburn courtesy of the 95 degree sun we enjoyed. (It's a dry heat and there was a pleasant breeze!) ;-)

Where the trees live!

It was a memorable day set against a memorable landscape: enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On the Second Day of Summer Vacation... Fathers' Day

A view from my patio.
"School's out for the summer!" So goes the rock ballad, and so begins my summer break: 10 weeks of time off without pay. (Good thing I save during the year... so those 10 weeks are really a break, not a worry.)

The school year ended smoothly: final duties were fulfilled, parties happened, goodbyes were said, and I left my classroom well situated for a new beginning in the Fall. And summer began.

What lies before me? Summer plans? (I've got a few, but not much I really have to do. It should be a summer of  doing-because-I-want-to's -- a mix of relaxation, productivity, and fun.

A view from under mini-patio
I'll be watching DVDs with my wife, taking walks with my dog, working in the yard, building a fence, installing two new screen doors (?), AND helping out my daughter and her family who arrive July 3rd. Grandparents R' Us is about to open for business. (And, I'll be reading on my new Kindle!)

This weekend my cousin Dennis is in town. We had a BBQ and sing-along last night, and today we are trekking 130 miles south to Joshua Tree National Park. He's never been, and I know the way!

Today is Fathers' Day. Last year Dennis and I did a shorter day trip on his annual visit from eastern Washington. I think it's a fitting tribute to our fathers. Dennis' dad and my dad were brothers. Both have passed on, but we, their only sons, are "hanging out" today. It wasn't a big, planned tribute. It just is. And I think that our Dads would be glad. I am.

Heidi: my security system!

A liquid amber: with seating for two.
Geranium blossom
Happy Fathers' Day to those of you who provide positive male role models for youth. As a dad and educator, I know of few other higher callings. Fathers should be in the business of youth development: helping our beloved sons and daughters become the people they choose to be.