Essentials

Listening but Not Hearing

If you ever get the chance read How To Win Friends and Influence Others I highly recommend it. Not only does the book explain the importance of perspective it covers a huge issue as to why people cannot get along. Personally I have found that the book helps with a number of issues I have had with others in the past. Most of which stemmed from a lack of communication, and understanding of another persons perspective.

There is that word again, perspective, that I constantly talk about. It is the word that I will continue to use when attempting to create a tool box for others to use when tackling the issues that they face. Perceptive is the first thing that we should think of when we are getting into an argument, or a situation that needs leverage.

I am horrible when it comes to hearing my wife. I can listen to her, but ultimately I will challenge what she says, and try to negotiate to my side of thinking, because I believe that I am naturally right. It has been like this ever since we started dating years ago. I would push us toward a fight because I really wasn’t hearing what she was trying to say to me.

My wife hates to work. She once told me that she didn’t want to work, that if she could she wouldn’t. Now instead of asking what she meant, or even giving her a chance to discuss what she meant I immediately started in on her asking her if she thought that I was going to be the only one to make ends meet. This exploded into a argument, and that fight followed into the night.

After a few days she brought up the topic again that she didn’t want to work, and I was at a point that I knew that this could lead to a fight, so instead I just asked her what she meant by this. She started talking about how all of her life she felt that she wanted to do more, and a normal 9 to 5 job wasn’t the life she wanted to life. She wanted more.

She wasn’t telling me that she was unwilling to work, or even that she wasn’t capable of helping out our family she was saying that she wanted more for us, and wanted to know how we could go about this. How we could change our lives from the normal 9 to 5 to something that resembled a life worth living. This was literally why we started the blog in the first place to create a life worth living, and I shot her perspective down because I wasn’t hearing her.

In the book How to Win Friends and Influence Others it talks about taking this step back to gain an understanding of what the other person is actually trying to say. If we first have an understanding of what we are talking about then we can move forward on our perspective. If we are just listening to answer we are not hearing what the person is offering to us.

I deal with conflict on a daily basis, and if I do not take what the person is saying into mind, and try to understand their problem all I am doing is adding to their suffering like I did with my wife. People are complicated, and will at times be unable to be truly open about what they’re going through. Even after knowing my wife for eight years there are somethings that she has a hard time opening up about, and I to her. If I assume what she is trying to say without really knowing then I cannot make a difference in our lives.

As a couple we have a lot to work on with communication, and taking the other person’s perspective in mind. However, taking that step back, and hearing the other person will help make a difference in each other lives.

Commitment to Yourself

This will be a fairly brief post. The mission of a Work in Progress (A-WIP) is to better ones self. I have, in previous posts, outlined what this means to me. Through photography, philosophy, and creative writing I find the best way to live for me. I share this better self of me on this blog as an example of taking control of my life. Now this this idea of being better is different for everyone. Here at A-WIP we want everyone to reach that ideal self, and we believe the only way to do this is to make a commitment to yourself.

I want say this as gentle as I can, but this commitment cannot have excuses. I know that many people suffer from issues be that of mental, or physical and my goal isn’t to mitigate those issues. However, saying I cannot because of _____ just tells me that you have a crutch that you cannot let go of yet. To make a commitment to oneself is to know that these issues may affect us, but should not control us. There is the difference.

To make a commitment to yourself first find out what it is you want out of life. For me it is to live an accepting Christian lifestyle, this could be different for you, but what does life look like to you in the future? Who do you see yourself being?

Know what challenges are ahead for the choices that you make and create a plan for overcoming those challenges. If you aren’t sure what challenges await then at least create good coping skills for when issues arise.

Finally when you create this commitment let us know, and let us know your progress. If anything we want to be supportive of you in your journey along with us in becoming our best selves.

Is the AntiChrist Real?

A word before my discussion. I know that topics related to religion, and faith are important to people. I want you to know that it is also important to me. The internet is a difficult place at times due to us not knowing what a persons intentions are on the other end of the screen. As my blog states, I am a work in progress, and I believe that we all are. If I say something that offends you I would encourage you to just move on as I am not attempting to make anything personal. I am just attempting to be better in my own life through understanding. Now that we got through that let me present my argument on the Antichrist.

For those of you who have seen the movie Constantine you’d know, the Antichrist is a godlike figure that arises from hell. Instead of bringing about the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of man like Christ, the AntiChrist will bring about the end of time. This Antichrist title has often been given to those we deem evil. The Rothschilds, Obama, Bush, Bin Ladin, Hitler, Stalin, the Clinton’s and now the latest, Trump. This Hollywood ideal of how the end times exists for Christianity has become rather mainstream in our own lives, and faith.

I can’t count how many times I have sat through a lesson on the great deceiver. How it’s the last hour. The Antichrist is near, and he comes closer each day. Watch out for the end times, as that is when we know he will be here. It is constantly brought up, and I don’t think that the AntiChrist of Constantine, and Hollywood are good examples. I believe that this has tainted our understanding of multiple teachings by breaking them up and taking them out of context.

The term Antichrist was used by the apostle John in his letters 1 John, and 2 John. If we just look at the sections that contain the term Antichrist (1 John 2:22, and 2 John 1:7), and mix in Paul’s 2 Thessalonian’s Chapter 2, and top off with some Revelations we have ourselves the convincing proof that the Antichrist is the lawless bringer of the end. Yet what else was John saying in his letters?

One of the most important things to remember about early Christianity is that it was a rather chaotic time. The Roman Imperial Cult dominated the empire, Jewish believers of Christ were being cut off from their synagogues, and the rise of Gnosticism threatened to end the Church as we know it today.

John addressed in his letter the issues of Gnosticism and false teaching. For those unfamiliar with Gnosticism the basics of it are that it stands for secret teaching meaning Gnostic knowledge. These early believes, and other false teachers were stating that the world (matter, and flesh) were evil, not the spirit. So, while the body (matter) did evil, the spirit did not, and once you are dead the spirit releases to heaven. This goes against Christian teachings as the only way to heaven is through Jesus (Again crash course not the full detail).

John highlights in Chapter 2 that one cannot sin and state that he is not a sinner. For if one does so that makes him a lair, and not truly apart of Christ. In the later part of Chapter 2 John states that those who went out from us were never really apart of us, for if they were then they would have remained. Then in Chapter 2: 22 John begins the definition of Antichrist: Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the Antichrist-Denying the Father, and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Johns first letter seems to be a direct thesis against Gnosticism (false teaching), not a discussion of how the world will end.

This definition of the Antichrist alone should be enough proof that our mainstream idea of the Antichrist is already incorrect for even John states that many Antichrists have already come. If the only requirement to be an Antichrist is the denial that Jesus was Christ then one could argue that many people who have lived on the earth were indeed Antichrists. This means that the “Antichrist” is not a singular person, rather this warning against Antichrists is a warning of false teaching, and a warning of falling away. It is a great example of how when we take pieces of the Bible we can make it say whatever we want. Like that there is a son of Satan that will rise from the bowels of Hell to destroy the world.

Context is everything, perspective is everything, and so is the importance of communication. When we dip in and out of different books we can make the Bible say whatever it is that we want. I believe that when taken into context the great deceiver in Paul’s 2 Thessalonian’s should not be used in conjunction with John’s Antichrist. They are separate, and different. To take part of one book, and mix it with another is ludicrous. The context of each book in the Bible comes from a completely different perspective, to mix these perspectives without the context leads to false teaching. Ironic, as John warned against such teachings.

Why are there five books in the Bible that focus on Christ? Think about it. Jesus is central to Christianity, and we have five perspectives to gain an idea of who Jesus was. Why just look at the simple differences, and you begin to understand why things taken out of context throws off teaching. Take for example the gospel of John 13:7. It states that as soon as Judas took the bread from Christ Satan entered into him. This is the only book that states that Satan entered Judas. What an interesting perspective that this adds to the betrayal of Jesus. Yet, there are four that show a different side to the story. Perspective gives new meaning. Why does one say that Satan entered and the others don’t?

Now I’m not saying that there won’t be a Hollywood style end of the world brought about by an Antichrist figure. What I am saying is that the term Antichrist doesn’t mean what many mainstream Christians thinks it means. I am also saying that out of context teaching shouldn’t be what we base our understanding of God on. The message of the Bible is complete without us attempting to take apart different pieces and put them together. Besides the anxiety of the end of the world shouldn’t be the focus of our walk with God. That is tomorrow’s issue and that’s for a later discussion.

There is No Proof of God

There is no proof of God.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is why we have faith.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is the point of having faith.

If God came down every Sunday to all the churches of the world who could justify not being a Christian? If God performed miracles in front of live concerts played for the entire world, who would not believe? We would all try to be faithful, we would all follow the word of God, but what would be the motivation?

If we had objective proof of God then we would have objective proof of hell. We would have proof of an afterlife, and a reason to do good. When there is a reason that is objective to do good will we not do good, or least attempt good?

If you knew that you could steal a cookie from the cookie jar as a child wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you at least be tempted by it? If your mother stood by the cookie jar, then that takes away the motivation to even begin with. You couldn’t dream of stealing the cookie as there is a capable person there to stop you.

God cannot objectively exist, and there can be no objective proof of God for if there there was then we would all act well. We would all act good, and follow commands to the best of ability. There wouldn’t be a questions of faith. How could anyone love by God by choice if we all knew he existed. We would all want heaven, not to be a better person, but to avoid suffering in hell.

Some say that they know God exists, I don’t. I try to have faith, but I am not convinced that there could be an afterlife. There certainly is a lot of evidence of one not existing. So, why am I a Christian verse a agnostic, or spiritualist?

The reason I am a Christian, even though there is no objective proof of God, is that I love God, real or not real. I choose to live by a moral standard, and attempt a good life. I do this not because it benefits me, but because I want to be a good person.

Now anyone can argue that “religion” has caused more suffering than good. That one doesn’t need a religion to be a good person, and that all of it is subjective to the situation. I would argue that if someone can find a more profound message than love your enemies, and provide for them, then I will follow that message.

This is why I choose Christ: love your enemies, feed the poor, be humble, and know that no matter what you are loved. I don’t have to do any of those things. In fact it’s rather detrimental to my own life if I do follow them. My enemies want to hurt me, why should I love them? Because you love all people, and understand that everyone has a perspective. That they are human to, that they suffer, and matter just as much as I do.

With objective proof of God you could easily be a Christian because you know your life was justified.

Without objective proof of God it becomes harder to be a Christian because you don’t know if it is justified, and you choose to limit yourself. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with that because I want to make a leap of faith, to stare down the absurd universe.

I am a Christian not because I want heaven, but because I love God.

Common Sense Perspective

When I was young I had a perspective. I thought that everyone knew my perspective. If they had two eyes, and a brain then of course they would see things my way, the right way. Why if you have any trouble understanding anything come talk to me I see how the world is. Red is the best color, Scooby-Doo is the best show, and recess is a subject in school because it is in school.

Now that I am older I have a perspective, but I submit that others have theirs. I cannot say that I entirely understand the perspective of my wife, or my family. I cannot entirely, or fully understand the life of any person from the world. I cannot agree with my wife on if her birthday was at one place when she said it was another. We had both been there, both eaten food, and travel together. Surely one of us is correct? If in her eyes it was at one place and in my eyes it was at another aren’t we both correct?

If I look at something and say that this is what is right, and then one looks at the same something and says that it is wrong aren’t we both right? If opposing views give way to human suffering, can the only remedy be to submit to others views, to accept that they have theirs, and I have mine…?

…And am I not entitled to my perspective, can I not say that this is right, and that is wrong. After all, I have earned what my eyes and brain saw. I earned the experiences, and lived through it all. To say to me that what I believe is wrong is to say that I have not lived, when I know that I have. I did not come to conclusions of my life by not living.

…But is there not objectivity to the world? Didn’t the birthday have to happen at one place rather than another? Credit card receipts, photographs, witness statements. Can we not prove that one of us is right, and the other is wrong? Yes, and no. Yes if the objectivity could prove that one of us is right, and the other is wrong. No if the objectivity could prove that both of us are right, or that the objectivity is subjective in nature. A photo could prove that we were at one place, but it just as well could prove that we were at another. If it was true we were here, and the photo makes it so that we were there then the objective photo becomes subjective to perspective. If there is no “true” objectivity then we must submit that we are both correct, or at the very least both true to our perspective. Isn’t that the best that any of us can truly hope for in this world?

…Yet humans will suffer. There can be two answers to who committed the crime, and if the “objectivity” fails to be objective then the wrong person can be punished. While the suffering occurs can the jury be blamed for their perspective? Did they not take the evidence and act accordingly? Certainly there are some problems that go beyond submitting to someone’s perspective, and inevitably these issues create conflict that in turns creates human suffering. However, if we act truthfully to ourselves, and at the very least attempt to understand the perspective of others then human suffering could be mitigated.

…Or is this a way to skate around morality issues justifying deviance by saying my perspective says otherwise? We hope that the other person in front of us is acting in good faith with their perspective. It is wrong to steal, but if I steal to feed my family because I have no other way, my perspective is real even though it does create suffering. What I do is wrong, but for the right reason, at the very least for me. If I steal because I cannot help myself due to a clinically diagnosis issue, then my perspective includes that diagnosis. My perspective is real even though it does create suffering. If I steal because I find it enjoyable, or because I feel that it is owed to me then I am being real in my perspective by justifying my action as enjoyable, or owed to me. However, this justification intentionally ignores the human suffering of another. Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Even if this perceived object that I covet is owed to me, to steal it is to ignore the perspective of the other person who sells it. Is the seller not owed something as well?

For the problems of my everyday life I can say that I submit that everyone is correct. I don’t have to create conflict when my wife says we ate there, instead of here. I don’t have to create conflict when I am told this is good, and that is bad. I submit that people will do as people see fit according to their perspective as I will do. I submit that people are justified in their minds their actions as I am of mine.

For the issues that inevitable must have an “objective” answer I submit that the person in front of me is correct in their mind and justified in their actions, as I am in mine. I hope that they are acting in good faith. If we can both agree that we are both at least knowing of the other person as having a perspective then maybe a compromise rather than domination can be achieved.

Huh, Well that Worked Out: 10 Ways of Dealing with Crisis

Part of my wonderful (not being sarcastic) position at the local community mental health facility is jumping head first into crisis’s with people who believe that it is the end of the world. Maybe not the literal end of the world, but enough terrible no good very bad things are happening that it does seem like the end of their world. We have all been there before. It’s that moment in life when the peak quickly turns for a valley, and you quickly get this shocked feeling in the middle of the night waking you up in a cold seat as you wonder if you’re going to make it to the end of week. Which doesn’t do wonders for getting up the next day to actually deal with the problem.

So, here are ten ways of dealing with a crisis:

  1. Just like bad gas, this too will pass.

Yeah I know that’s a pretty juvenile thing to say, I’m aware of it, and embrace it. A crisis is something that is temporary, and causes immediate stress for a short period of time. Take some time to be grateful that this is not the “normal” state of your life. Remember what life was like on a more normal day.

2. You’re definitely not alone. 

Saddest part of hiking twenty miles in the mountains is reaching the point that you think no one else has ever been just to trip over a beer can. Whatever it is that you are going through (lost dog, car stolen, teenagers being too edgy) there has been someone else who went through something similar, and made it out just fine. You are not the first person to have this crisis. You won’t be that last.

3. It’s okay to have a freak out. Just remember to apologize.

Yeah, you’re pissed, you’re angry, you’re in a state where the next person that says “Gotta case of the Monday’s?” will be killed on the spot. It’s okay to have a meltdown, but try to cope with the problem before the meltdown happens. If you’ve already melted down from the crisis make sure that you take some time to forgive that person who set you over the edge, and yourself for going over the edge. What we do when we are emotional doesn’t need to last forever (nor should it(it will still wake you up at night)).

4. Do something nice for yourself.

This can quickly take a dark turn if you take the crisis you have then add onto it because of doing something dumb like getting wasted, and driving downtown for midnight doughnuts only to get a DUI. Do something nice for yourself that won’t add onto the crisis that already exists. I like watching movies at theaters shoveling a popcorn into my mouth like some starving child.

5. Find ways of making things seem more positive

Make a joke of the situation, or reminisce with others about better times (ahead or behind). Find ways to make the days bearable even if that means taking up a new hobby to distract yourself with. My wife and I will invent inside jokes as a way to cope because we are lame and have no life.

6. Avoid rushed decisions such as going to a animal shelter, and adopting all the dogs (I can relate).

We joke…..but its a really good idea and would totally make you feel better. However, that’s a lot poop to pick up, and food to buy. Again avoid adding to the crisis when you cope. Also try to avoid calling the crisis and telling them exactly how you feel. Give yourself time to cool off and be rational. What your email says may be right, but it can also be the right way to get fired or ruin relationships.

7. Some people suck, so what?

Sometimes when we are going through tough situations other people just make it worse. They may even be the reason we are in a crisis. My thought is, I know who I am even if they don’t. Take care of yourself and get out of the crisis. Forget anyone else who tries to bring you down. Some people suck that’s just life.

8. Go someplace different

 When I am upset the last thing I can handle is a mess (my life). I have to go someplace clean, and just live there until I am calm enough to handle my problem. Sometimes you may need noise, sometimes quiet. Change your environment to change your mood.

9. Come up with a really good plan

I’m talking about making a comprehensible plan with note tabs, and fancy ink. Make a plan that puts great generals to shame. Who cares if the plan is completely unreasonable, it helps to think of the problem in creative ways. This may lead to a simple solution you never thought of.

10. Recognize when its over, and learn from your mistakes

When its done, its done. Move on, and enjoy life without crisis. Learn what you did wrong, and how to improve for next time.

My last bit of advice is a crisis will solve, even if you don’t do anything. I have dived into horrible situations with clients where it almost causes me to have a crisis by helping solve their’s, and usually these things work themselves out in the strangest yet best way possible. Be open to that, and remember life is suppose to be fun.

Essentials to Bullet Journaling

Bullet journaling is the cool new craze that has everyone (mostly us) excited about getting organized. The styling and openness of the journal allows for the creator to create beautiful self-made trackers, calendars, and anything else that can be done with paper all in one convenient dotted journal. With so many possibilities it can be difficult, and unnerving to get started.

Well at A Work in Progress Pandora, and I made the mistakes for you and came up with the Essentials to Bullet Journaling. So please sit back and see what we did good, and what went horribly wrong.

  • Step 1 buy the Journal, any journal, so long as its full of dots. Look at that journal so full of dots. Lets just take a moment to appreciate how organized we are getting…… Wow such potential, I really feel like this is going to be a grand adventure.

 

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  • Step 2 get supplies. Talk’n like some Sharpies, and non-smearing non-bleeding non-shit markers, all the pencils (ALL the Pencils), stencils to make it look like you know what your doing, some rulers to make it look like you a can draw straight lines, and bring the pain of knowing that your journal will never be as cool as the ones on Pinterest.

 

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  • Step 3 fight with your significant other if your doing the journal together. Mostly because you know that you called the ruler first, and you cooked dinner but apparently that doesn’t matter because she has a really cute idea for her journal. If your alone continue to self-loath from previous step.

 

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  • Step 4 don’t make a water tracker. Everyone makes a water tracker, do something different like a poop tracker. At least that is different.

 

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  • Step 5 don’t listen to what people tell you to put in your journal especially your significant other especially about that whole UsE GeL PeNs iT LOoKS BeTTer. NO IT DOESN’T.

 

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  • Step 6 screw up multiple times, and feel helpless.

 

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  • Step 7 embrace the mistakes.

 

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  • Step 8 wonder if embracing the mistakes leads to bad habits.

 

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  • Step 9 screw it, make a water tracker. Almost had you.

 

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  • Step 10 make a huge mess and stress about cleaning it up. Ugh I knew I shouldn’t have gotten so many pencils.

 

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  • Step 11 have fun and enjoy the experience, and look at the cool stuff that comes from making a bullet journal

 

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