Monday, July 20, 2009

Courage (and risk)

It only takes guts to get started. Once something has begun, we then throw ourselves into the work and into taking care of the details and occasionally step back to take a look at the broader vision. But it is the first step that takes the most courage.

A friend of mine and I recently had a discussion about what separates a decent bicycle racer and a mediocre bicycle racer in the amateur ranks. We both agreed that one of the key elements was a willingness to throw oneself headlong into the unknown. When a bike racer races away from the main group of racers, he or she willingly throws themselves into uncertain territory in the effort to win the race. Most, even if they become professional racers, don’t know if they will succeed and they risk a certain degree of humiliation if they are caught by the following racers later in the day. The beauty of such courageous efforts is that if the effort succeeds, then the next time the racer races he or she will know that there exists a possibility if they are willing to take some risk.

This is an apt metaphor for any project, life direction, ambition, or creative outlet; we must throw ourselves headlong into the unknown. We can be calculated about it, we can train our abilities well, but we must eventually take the risk. We must eventually face the unknown. It is true for any endeavor, be it art, athletics, relationships, writing, business, parenting, education, etc.

Where in your life have you stalled due to reservations about taking the risk? Can you motivate yourself to give it a go. To say, “well, let’s give it a try then.” There is no shame that I can think of in trying.

As always I hope you have enjoyed this blog and I welcome your comments. Also please visit my website at

All my best,


Monday, July 13, 2009

Creativity and Life

“By being creative we really do fall in love with the world. And in that moment we transform the ordinary into the extraordinary”
-Dewitt Jones

For the past couple of years I have been bit by the proverbial photography bug. It seems I have found my creative outlet; an outlet I have been searching and yearning for most of my life. Have you ever had a deep knowing that there is something creative inside of you trying to be expressed but lacked a language? This is what I have felt for most of my life and until recently lacked a medium, a language. Thankfully, photography somehow discovered me. As a consequence I study many photographers’ work and while in graduate school was shown a CD movie of a motivational speech by National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones.

Dewitt Jones has developed the incredible capacity to apply lessons learned from photography to his life (or is it lessons learned in life applied to photography? It is not always that clear, is it?) and he has developed a relatively successful motivational speaking practice using his photography to illustrate key points in what he believes are steps toward creativity, meaning, and the celebration of life. I am repeatedly touched when I view his videos and I have transcribed his 5 steps toward living creatively onto index cards that I carry in my camera bag and taped to my PDA to remind me of my focus.

Dewitt has several video shorts in the “videos” section of his website ( that highlight his philosophy and approach as well as his infectiously motivating personality. I have enjoyed them very much and recommend them wholeheartedly.

His 5 point maxim for living creatively is as follows:
1. Focus your vision: celebrate what is right in the world
2. Train your technique
3. Place yourself in the place of most potential
4. Truly be open to the possibilities: what will I be given today and will I be open to receive it
5. Continuously find the next right answer

As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback and hope you have found this blog post helpful and meaningful. Please also visit my website at


Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I have to admit that I am taken by the sheer creativity the iPhone entails, expresses, and encourages. It is an impressive piece of technology that has allowed people to communicate in an infinite number of ways: through text, email, phone, photo, video and many more that I'm not even aware of. Recently a friend showed me an app entitled DoGood. The app works on a simple premise; each day the subscriber is given a directive to "do good" in a specific way during the course of their day. The challenge is to achieve each good deed, each day, for a year. There is even an ingenious tracking mechanism build in; a "done" button. And DoGood tracks the number of people who have accomplished the task each day.

On the day in question the good deed was to "thank a teacher who made a difference in your life." Well, that got me thinking. How much does it take for us to stop for a moment and do a good deed? How much does it take to stop for a moment and be grateful? And imagine what the world, or even our immediate community, or simply our own family, would be like if we made an effort to do one good thing within that community each day?

Often I encourage my clients to "spy" on the world for good behavior. I encourage them notice what is positive about the world and about people. It's a pithy little instruction perhaps, but it proves to be effective at lifting people gently out of depression, despair, grief, and hopelessness. The smiles that have been hidden for some time often return gently and resolutely with this simple shift in focus.

There is much talk about change being difficult, a struggle, challenging, even impossible. But I think that we often make too much of change. Change, all change, happens in an instant. To use the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, change erupts! And eruptions are dependent on continuous, small, collective forces that develop into unstoppable change.

Perhaps it's as simple as observing, and perhaps doing, one. good. deed.

(Check out my website at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

To Inspire, Enrich, and Inform

It has taken me some time to write this first blog, and I hope this is not a preview of things to come. It is my intention to write a new entry every other week or so. Because this is a professional blog, my focus will be writing short articles that inspire, enrich, and inform the reader in the area of mental health and personal development. While some articles will address specific challenges that people face, I also intend to write articles highlighting simple things we can do in everyday life to increase our enjoyment of the life we lead. While I would love to believe that I know a lot about a lot of things, it is more truthful that I know some things about some things. As a result, I also intend to use this blog to direct you to other knowledgeable and creative people who use blogs, websites, video, art, literature, television, movies and any other media in which to enhance their, and others’ , lives.

I am excited to begin this process. I have often dreamed of writing something meaningful and hopefully this is a forum in which to do so. I do hope you are informed as a consequence of reading this blog but, more importantly, I hope you are inspired and enriched. Any feedback or comments to this, or other, blogs are welcomed and appreciated.

All my best,


(Check out my website at