Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a
large-scale mountain sculpture by artist Gutzon Borglum. The figures of
America’s most prominent U.S. presidents–George Washington, Thomas Jefferson,
Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt—represent 150 years of American
The Memorial is located near Keystone in the
Black Hills of South Dakota, roughly 30 miles from Rapid City.
Each year, approximately three million
tourists from all over the world visit Mount Rushmore to experience this
patriotic site. Today, the wonder of the mountain reverberates through every
visitor. The four “great faces” of the presidents tower 5,725 feet
above sea level and are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall.
There are many amenities at the site
including the Mount Rushmore Audio Tour, Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center
& Museum, the Presidential Trail, Youth Exploration Area, Sculptor’s
Studio, a parking garage with R.V. parking, pet exercise areas, , the Carvers
Café, Memorial Ice Cream Shop, Gift Shop and the Mount Rushmore Bookstores.
Construction. There are some exciting upgrades coming to
Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The enhancements will address deferred
maintenance, visitor safety and accessibility to the memorial. Please note that
the memorial is OPEN during construction. There are lots of things to see and
do while construction is going on at Mount Rushmore. Below is a TOP 10 LIST OF
THINGS TO DO AT MOUNT RUSHMORE.
Viewing Mount Rushmore
Still Possible During Construction Project. While the visitor center is unavailable
during the construction project, you are still able to view Mount Rushmore from
many areas throughout the memorial. Ask a park ranger in the Information Center
for current information.
Visitors traveling on I-90 should exit at
Rapid City and follow Highway 16 southwest to Keystone and then Highway 244 to
Mount Rushmore. Visitors coming from the south should follow Highway 385 north
to Highway 244, which is the road leading to the memorial.
About 2 years before I started this
website (around 2015), I was going through a spiritual phase I guess you could
call it. (Still kinda am in this phase).
I was trying to figure out the purpose of my life, (What is my purpose
here on earth)? what I wanted to do, be,
and how I wanted to contribute. I had a lot of thoughts flowing through my mind
about what sort of life I wanted to create and experience and came up with a
short phrase to remind me what is truly important to me and that’s how, “Love
Life. Do Good. Live Well.” came to be. This is my interpretation.
In essence, to me this means to love everything around me, people,
nature, moments, experiences, spirituality, and so on. It’s about realizing
that life is a gift. It’s about cherishing the relationships and bonds that I
have with the people in my life. It’s about remembering that life would be
pretty lame without them. It’s about loving myself for who I am and seeing
enough in myself to follow my dreams.
It’s often easy to forget these things with all of the challenges and stress
that goes on in everyday life but if you’ve ever had the experience of seeing a
loved one going through their final days, you may realize that most of the
little things people fuss about isn’t all that significant in the whole grand
scheme of things and even the little moments of happiness can mean the world to
Something as simple as flying a kite at the park can suddenly be one of
the cherished memories you have that can bring you to tears. It’s about
remembering that our time here is limited and not to waste too much of it doing
pointless things. We only live once so we gotta make this life count.
This basically means to give back. Whether it’s donating time, money, sharing
my knowledge or anything else, as long as I’m making some positive impact, then
I feel like I’m doing something to contribute to the world no matter how small.
You may be in a position where giving is tough. Whether you don’t have
much money or much time, giving isn’t always an easy thing to do. If you’re in
this situation, then work hard on improving your life and putting yourself in a
better position to help others. Some people just do enough to help themselves
and that’s fine. However, if you ever have the urge to do so, consider reaching
beyond your own needs. The feeling of making a positive impact on someone’s
life is just amazing.
Doing good doesn’t have to be anything big either. It could be anything
from creating music that others will enjoy to making videos that put a smile on
people’s face to running a marathon for some cause to inspiring people to
giving some of your time to making a small donation to your favorite charity.
It’s also a reminder to just be kind to people. Sure, we all have our
differences but who’s to say that if you grew up in the other person’s shoes
that you wouldn’t end up being the same way? Although the media makes this
world look like a crap hole, I believe that there are way more good people than
bad people in this world.
If you strip away the outer layer, you’ll find that most of us want the
same things. We want to be loved, be accepted, feel secure, and know that our
existence matters to someone.
To me, this means to live a healthy as well as a financially successful
life. You could have lots of money but if your health isn’t great, you’ll have
a hard time enjoying life. If you have great health but no money, you’ll be
working all day just to pay the bills.
I realize that money isn’t everything but people with money can do a lot
more in terms of inspiring and helping others than people who are flat out
broke and are solely focused on making ends meet.
Imagine being in a position where money wasn’t an issue. Think about how
much more you can do with an extra 40 hours a week. You could do what you have
a passion for. You could learn new skills. You could travel and explore new
places, meet new people, and create moments that will last a life time.
Being in a position where you work because you want to instead of
working because you have to will make life a lot more enjoyable.
Taking care of your health shouldn’t be something you start doing only
after your doctor tells you some bad news. Another piece of junk food isn’t
going to harm you. Another cigarette isn’t going to kill you. Not exercising
today won’t matter much to your health. However, doing these things each day
over a certain amount of time will destroy your health.
It takes some discipline but would you rather be 54 and healthy or living each day in pain, having tubes hooked up to you, and feeling bad for being a burden on your loved ones?
Love Life. Do Good. Live Well. – These are the words that remind me each day of what’s truly important to me.
involves much more than answering questions over the phone. Responding to
tickets through email, live chat, and social media are equally important
communication channels for customers. While there’s plenty of overlap in the
customer service skills required to do a great job, each customer service
channel benefits from a unique approach to these skills.
For example, there are important customer service skills
associated with phone support, such as empathy, the ability to “read” a
customer’s emotional state, clear communication, and friendliness. But things
emotional cues are much harder to read in writing, so additional customer
service skills for newer customer-facing channels need to be developed and
improved upon (in order to make those channels more viable for customers).
Whether you’re interviewing or brushing up your customer service
skills for your resume, it’s good to remember that most customer support
managers aren’t just interviewing for technical skills. They’ll be looking for
team members that can demonstrate real customer service skills.
The following examples are the good customer service skills that
all customer service professionals strive to master:
1. Smile, literally
Smiles translate through the phone but should be used at appropriate
times. You don’t want your customer service to come off as inauthentic, but you
should still always be cordial during conversations. Smile as you would in a
face-to-face conversation while responding to questions and conveying necessary
2. Mirror a customer’s’ language and tone
Part of the job in customer service is mirroring a customer’s
language and tone. Mirroring another person’s language and tone can help create
a connection. That said, if a customer is angry, you don’t want to copy their
frustration. Instead, you can try increasing your volume just a little and then
quickly work to bring the intensity down a notch. Customers respond well when
the help they’re receiving is coming from someone who’s clearly level-headed.
3. Listen first, then validate the problem
When customers are upset or frustrated, they might not be able
to take in what you say—even if it’s the right answer. Listen first, let them
calm down, and then try to help solve their problems. Empathy is a crucial
ability in customer service, so make sure you know exactly what you’re showing
4. Acknowledge the customer
Customers need to feel heard, so tell them that you understand
the reason for their call. They’ll appreciate the touch of empathy and it’ll go
a long way towards making an angry customer’s experience much better. Customer
service that accurately recognizes what ails the customer comes off as more
human and reflects well on the company.
5. Summarize your help
You’ve got to listen to a customer’s problems in order to repeat
information to them with supportive language, and do so in a way that
summarizes the help that you’re providing them. Being able to adequately
communicate all that you’re doing to help is a top job skill for customer service
6. Communicate hold times
Even if you’ve just handled a call really well, you can lose a
customer by leaving them on hold for too long. This is especially true if you
haven’t set their expectations first—it will make them feel like their
questions don’t matter, and ultimately reflects poorly on your customer service
and your company’s reputation.
7. Use templates, not boilerplates
For efficient customer service, you’ll want to use templates
that include some pre-written text. At Zendesk, we call them macros. Templates
are like guidelines—they shouldn’t be overly rigid and unwavering, but can
provide a helpful structure for common responses (like a list for step-by-step
responses). Even though the whole team can use it, you’ll want to personalize
your own answer before replying to customers. This leads to a more personal
interaction (and a more fulfilling customer service job).
8. Make a template your own (with a personal spin)
It’s okay to use your own voice and approach when providing
customer service, even as you reflect your company’s persona and philosophies.
Think about how you might make your own signature unique or consider different
ways to close the email depending on the tone and resolution of the
9. Be considerate of timeframes
Emails, especially a first response, need to be answered within a defined timeframe. A great email support agent will prioritize their responses by urgency and how long they’ve been sitting for. There’s a chance your customer was spoiled during the sales process and expects similar treatment in customer service—having a great customer service platform will help make that responsibility easier.
10. Imitate the customer’s language and phrasing in text
Similar to phone support, it’s great to mirror a customer’s
language or phrasing in an email to show them that you understand and
acknowledge their issue. This helps to create rapport and establishes a better
relationship, making it easier for them to receive the information they need.
11. Always use a considerate tone over email or text
Tone can be hard to decipher over chat, especially since the
responses can be short, quick, and incomplete. It’s an essential customer
service skill to choose your words carefully. A good rule of thumb is to use a
gentle, informative tone—patience is a critical ability when faced with a very
12. Be comfortable with multitasking
Live chat agents are expected to handle more than one chat at a
time, which is a skill in itself. Great multitaskers don’t lose sight of the
bigger picture as they’re bombarded by questions. Be careful not to handle too
many chats, or else your customers will be waiting too long between responses.
You can always put a chat “on hold” if you need more time to find an answer,
but just like with phone support, set their expectations first!
13. Look for cues if something is unclear
Sometimes it’s harder for customers to express themselves by
writing, so don’t read too quickly and jump to conclusions. It takes a lot of
training to understand the nuances of different customers, but it’s part of
what makes someone successful at a job in customer service. For example,
someone that works in sales might come off as assertive while you’re providing
them support, while an engineer might need complex technical details to see their
problem solved. Being able to read specific cues is a problem-solving skill
that can give agents a better idea of how they can help.
14. On social media, (almost) always respond
Always respond to a customer’s social post—especially when they
need help. Even if you can’t answer right away, make quick initial contact with
them and let them know where and when you’ll respond. Providing speedy
responses means you’ve got to be adept in addressing a customer’s problem in a
precise and polite tone.
15. Don’t take obvious bait
The exception to “always respond” is when you are confronted
with an obvious attempt to create an altercation in a public space. These
comments are often directed at the company itself, and sometimes other people
will quickly take the bait. Most organizations know they can’t afford to have a
customer service agent who makes mistakes on social media. The damage to the
company’s reputation can be far-reaching.
16. Determine if something should be handled by support or
Social media contacts occasionally walk a line between something
that should be handled by support and something that should be handled by
marketing. It’s an important skill that an agent will know what should be a
ticket and what should be forwarded to another team.
Agents need customer service skills specific to each support
The best customer service employee will be able to move easily
between channels and solve problems with the skills that best suit each
channel. If you can hone your ability to practice empathy and communicate your
product knowledge with customers, you’ll be a rock star in customer service.
What follows are our tips and solutions for improving your skills by specific channels, excerpted from the eBook Customer Service Skills You Need.
Phone support: How’s your “phone voice”?
Some say we wear our emotions on our sleeve, but others might say we convey our
emotions through our voice. Customer service employees know from experience how
frustration and anger translates through the phone lines. And, of course, that
communication is a two-way street; phone agents reading from a script must
consider their tone.
The following are what’s needed for skilled phone support:
Mirror a customer’s’ language and tone
Listen first, then validate the problem
Acknowledge the customer
Summarize the problem
Communicate hold times
Email support: You are not a robot
Honing your writing skills is especially important when providing email
support. The email response is arguably the most structured response and
requires the most precision. You must write with clarity and brevity while
detailing a list of issues while also taking the time to proofread and correct
Here’s what you’ll need for great email support in any
Use templates, not boilerplates
Make the templates your own
Respond in a defined timeframe
Imitate a customer’s phrasing
Chat support: Multitasking is a key skill
Providing great live chat support requires a cross of phone and email skills.
Chat is conversational and real-time, just like customer service over the
phone, but it also requires strong writing skills.
Here’s what every great live chat agent needs to pay attention
Use a gentle, informative tone
Read customer cues
Social support calls for speedy deliveries
Social media support requires a combination of all of the above skills. When
live chat isn’t available, customers turn to social media for an exceptionally
fast response. The skillset required to provide customer service on social
media is generally a bit advanced, and often saved for more senior or
specialized customer service agents.
The following skills are crucial for social media support:
As far as jobs or hobbies go, blogging is one of the more fulfilling options out there. We all have something that we’d like to get off our chest and some knowledge to share with others. However, while blogging can be fun and fulfilling, it can also be challenging. Delve a little deeper into it and you will need change the way you think to adapt. If you spend a lot of time doing something you will get better at it and achieve a certain degree of mastery, which in turn will teach you some important life lessons. There is a lot to learn from the journey and blogging on a regular basis can definitely give you some unique insights.
1. It doesn’t take much to get started in a
All it takes to get started with a new project in your life is to make that initial leap of faith. Once you’ve resolved to make a change you can jump right in. The progress will be gradual but you can make huge progress initially if you are driven. With some research and a bit of practice you can learn how to run a successful blog and apply the principles that the pros use right from the start. This works for other parts of life quite well.
Want to get in shape? Find a sound, well-written beginner
program and do your research on the right type of exercise and nutrition that
will allow you to reach your goals. Then you just stick with it and give it
your 100% on a regular basis. Getting started is surprisingly easy. Even if
it’s something that you’ve never done before, it’s the consistency and motivation
part that trips people up.
2. There is always more work to be done
At first it seems like you can spend an hour or two of your free
time at the computer typing away and manage to run a blog without it really
affecting your life in a big way. When you start to take it seriously your
research can take you in several directions and you will start learning more
and more on a subject.
You will become interested in a few different topics – you brush
up on your grammar, work on improving your vocabulary, look at some writing
tips, search the web for good pictures or gifs, start doing your own DIY
projects or shop around for cool tech gadgets, you spend a few hours on social
media… If you decide to do something meaningful you will want to do it well,
and you will learn that there is always more work to be done. Self-improvement
is a never-ending story and the more effort you put in, the more benefits you
3. You may have hidden talents that you never
We are all born with certain strengths and weaknesses. As much as people like to say that everyone has equal opportunity, it’s hard not to argue that we all have some inborn talents that allow us to potentially reach a much higher level of skill in some areas; however we are often unaware of some of these talents.
Proven Strategies to Help Overcome Adversity
More motivated. More confident. More competent.
It’s not until you start reading and writing about all kinds of
different topics and try your hand at different disciplines that you start to
realize just how much something suits you. Have you tried playing the guitar,
cooking, creating DIY furniture, running or singing? You might be pleasantly
surprised to find out that you aren’t half bad at it – and that it gives you
plenty of enjoyment.
it takes to get good at something is time and patience
People always want to hear about secret knowledge and take shortcuts to achieving their goals. One of the biggest truths in life is that mastering something is all about boring repetition. It takes plenty of time to get really good and the most important virtues you can have are patience and grim determination. You always keep coming back to the basics, perfecting them so that you can build upon them and develop further. It may take you an entire afternoon to write 1000 words at first, but if you keep going and write 1000 words every day, you’ll eventually get to a point where things come naturally and motivation isn’t an issue.
good daily routine will lead you to success
The best way to ensure that you stay motivated enough to
dedicate the necessary time into a project is to develop a routine. Human
beings are creatures of habit and we tend to work best when we have a set
schedule. You can try to write when the mood strikes, but it becomes too easy
to procrastinate and a whole day can go by without a muse coming to inspire
you. Once you start living by a simple schedule and break your day up into
several routine tasks, you’ll quickly notice that you are able to get things
done much more efficiently. You may even end up with more free time once you
learn to be more productive.
Think twice before you speak
It’s easy to get carried away and mention things that may not be completely accurate while talking about a subject. You can also throw around unverified information that you’ve heard somewhere at some point and regard it as a cold hard fact. When you share your thoughts with a large and ethnically diverse audience, you become aware of the importance of fact-checking and thinking about what you are going to say. The backlash in the comments can be a really sobering experience. Thankfully, among the hordes of hateful trolls there are always a few people out there who offer constructive criticism and correct you without trying to insult you in the process.
Critically considering the ideas you have, checking the
credibility of the sources, looking at the possible implications and ways your
words can potentially be misinterpreted – all these things allow you to express
yourself better. By weighing your words carefully before you speak you ensure
that you don’t spread misinformation, draw bad conclusions or come across as
ignorant, arrogant or offensive.
Don’t try to impose your views on others – be tolerant of different opinions
A mistake a lot of new bloggers tend to make is to stick to
their specific views and paint them as the “right way” or *cue dramatic
music* “the truth”. Things are never black and white; every issue has
a wide plethora of vibrant colors, each with a bunch of unique shades. If you
believe that you are objectively right because you have personal experience and
plenty of facts to back you up, then you can calmly and respectfully critique
someone’s claims. Don’t just dismiss beliefs and opinions of others (especially
on polarizing topics) as “bad” or “dumb”. You should always come from a place
of understanding and be open for an intelligent discussion.
Don’t waste your energy on things that aren’t important
You can sometimes get so caught up in the minutiae that you forget about the big picture, or you end up wasting a lot of time on little things like weighing up which phrase to use or choosing just the right picture. I’ll be the first to say that the devil is in the details, but beyond a certain point your eye for detail becomes an obsession which limits your productivity. Adopt the 80/20 rule to life: focus 80% of your time on a few things that can give you the greatest results and 20% of time on everything else. Another way in which this applies to life is that you shouldn’t waste your energy on people who drain you emotionally and whose company you don’t enjoy. Keep good company and focus on developing connections with people that can help you move forward and improve.
Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time blogging will
agree that you get a whole lot more out of the experience than just the
satisfaction you get from writing about what you love. There are plenty of
important life lessons that you learn along the way and these can be applied to
virtually any facet of life in order to better yourself and become happier.
you want to be a Jeopardy! champion or just need to remember where you
parked your car, here are 11 things you can do right now to turn your mind from
a sieve into a steel trap.
1. Concentrate for 8 Seconds.
days we’re all about things being faster. That’s why this advice is invaluable:
When you really need to remember something, concentrate on it for at least 8
seconds. That can seem like a long time when you’re running around trying to
get a million things done, but it is worth it. Studies have shown that 8
seconds is the minimum amount of time it takes for a piece of information to go
from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
2. Don’t Walk Through a Doorway.
We’ve all walked into a room and suddenly realized we can’t remember why we needed to be there in the first place. Don’t worry, you’re not getting more forgetful—chances are it was the act of walking through a doorway that made you go completely blank. Researchers found that participants in both virtual and real-world studies were far more likely to forget what object they had just placed in a container if they were asked right after walking through a doorway than if they carried the object the same distance in a single room. Scientists have yet to figure out why, but something about entering a new place seems to restart our memory.
3. Make a Fist.
If you’re having trouble remembering things at work, get a stress ball. The act of clenching your fist, if done correctly, can significantly improve your ability to recall information. Studies show that if you are right-handed, you should make a fist with your right hand before you try to memorize a piece of information. Then when you need to remember it, clench your left hand (the process is reversed for lefties.) Be sure to hold that position for a little while though; the study that discovered this had the participants squeezing for a good 45 seconds before letting go.
At this point we should just accept it that science considers exercise the cure for absolutely any problem, and memory is no different. The physical act increases alertness and oxygen supply to the brain, and may even increase cell growth in the parts of your brain responsible for memory. One study found that right after light exercise, women were able to recall things better than they could before working up a sweat. And while a quick jog can help you out right now, it is even more effective over the long term. A different study found that women who kept fit over six months significantly improved both their verbal and spatial memory.
At some point in high school or college, almost everyone has tried to pull an all-nighter before a big test (or so pop culture would have us believe). But even if you left your cramming until almost the last minute, it is more beneficial to get a good night’s sleep than to study until dawn. Studies have found that the processes your brain goes through while you’re asleep actually help you remember information better the next day. Your brain is bombarded with stimuli when you’re awake, and it uses the time you are asleep to process everything. That’s when it gets rid of unnecessary information and doubles down on remembering important things, like all that stuff in your biology textbook. Sleep is when it consolidates that information into a long-term memory. If you stay awake, your brain can’t go through this process.
6. Use Crazy Fonts.
We’re all font snobs to some extent. When it comes to books, newspapers, or the internet, we want everything to be clear and easy to read. But researchers have discovered that one of the best ways to remember something you’ve read is to read it in a weird font. The size and boldness makes no difference, although the harder it is to read, the better. When something is unfamiliar and difficult to read, you are forced to concentrate on it more, allowing you to remember it easier.
bold fonts may actually hurt your ability to remember, as studies found that
when asked to memorize a list of words, people predicted they would recall bold
words easier than non-bold words, and therefore studied them less, leading to
the opposite result.
7. Chew Gum.
If you need to remember a piece of information for around 30 minutes, try chewing gum. Studies have found that people do better on both visual and audio memory tasks if they are chewing gum while they do them. Just the act of chewing seems to keep people more focused and improve concentration.
if you have a pop quiz sprung on you, leave the Juicy Fruit in your pocket.
People who didn’t chew gum did better on very short memory tasks, while
masticating helped people stay alert during longer ones.
8. Write Things Out.
These days it’s far more common to type up almost all the writing you need to do on your phone or computer. Shopping lists are saved on your tablet, phone numbers and email addresses under your contacts—it’s hardly necessary to remember anything anymore. That is, until you forget your phone and realize you don’t remember if you need to pick up bread and eggs. In the future, if you want to recall something, write it out in longhand. It doesn’t matter if you never actually read back what you wrote: Studies have shown that just the act of writing something out allows you to recall it in a way that touching a keyboard does not.
9. Know When to Turn the Music On—and
Many people like a bit of music playing while they work or study. And listening to music before you start reading something you need to remember does indeed give you better recall. But once you start work, take out those ear buds. Researchers have found that listening to almost any noise, including music, while studying is a distraction, and you will recall less of what you read in the future. It doesn’t matter if you love the music or hate it; it has the same distracting effect as someone yelling random numbers at you. It might seem strange at first studying in complete silence, but science says it pays off in the long run.
One of the weirdest and most effective ways to remember something is to associate it with a visual image. This can be taken to an extreme, where you can recall a huge number of pieces of information just by building up a detailed visual image in your brain. Let’s say you wanted to remember that J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books. Rowling sounds like bowling, so visualize a bowling alley. Now add to this image a hairy potter. This hirsute man, his hands covered with clay, gets up to roll the ball down the lane. From there you could add other bits of information, for example the names of the different Harry Potter books. Eventually you have a place in your head full of information that you can access at any time. It sounds bonkers, but science says it works.
If you are sitting in a boring class or meeting, don’t be afraid to start drawing hearts and flowers in your margins. While it can look like doodlers are paying less attention than non-doodlers, in reality the act of drawing is helping to keep their brain active. Just sitting there when you are bored makes it easier for you to tune out and as a result you will remember less information. In studies, people who were given a doodling task while listening to a boring phone message ended up remembering 29 percent more of what was on the tape than people who just sat still and listened.
suppose it goes without saying that we live in a very fast-paced, hectic, and
noisy world. We’re often in a big hurry to get somewhere. Stress
is the norm and noise is all around us in the form of radios, televisions,
iPods, etc. We’re plugged in but often tuned out. Very few of us live at the
pace or volume of normal life.
So overstimulated are we that
many literally cannot relax when it is quiet; silence unnerves them, recently an
informal poll was taken in and found that 40% of the students said they
cannot fall asleep without a television or radio playing in the
background. Many phones and clock-radios have a “sleep” function to
allow them to play for a certain amount of time and then
turn off (presumably after we have fallen asleep). We used to set our
clock-radios to wake us up; now we use them to “soothe” us to
sleep with their background noise.
Wow, that’s really overstimulated.
Silence is precious and is a
necessary ingredient for the spiritual life. We do well to build as much of it
as possible into our lives. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, in his tome The Three Ages of the Interior Life,writes
of the need to minimize distractions and noise:
create silence in our soul; we must quiet our more or less inordinate passions
in order to hear the interior Master, who speaks in a low voice as a friend to
his friend. If we are habitually preoccupied with ourselves, seek ourselves in
our work, in our study and exterior activity, how shall we delight in the
sublime harmonies of the mysteries of the Blessed Trinity present in us? … The
disorder and clamor of our senses must truly cease for a life of prayer. … they
eventually become silent and submit with docility to the mind
or the superior part of the soul (Vol 1, p. 455, Tan Publications).
Ask yourself if silence is a
significant part of your day. Do you cultivate it? Many today struggle with
prayer and other quieter activities like spiritual reading because they are
overstimulated. Overstimulation leads to being easily bored, having a short
attention span, and becoming anxious about silence or inactivity. This is a
poisonous brew when it comes to prayer, which requires a certain love for
silence, listening, patience, stillness, and restful attentiveness. Having the
radio, television, or iPod going all day does not help our soul to hear the
still, quiet voice of God.
Some of my quietest moments are
my daily holy hour and then later in the day when I write these
articles. I have come to cherish these quiet times when I listen to
God and ponder His teachings. And then, having listened, I sit
quietly again and compose these posts. I really could not write without
silence; noise distracts my thoughts too much.
One year I realized that I had
the radio, or music, on almost all day long in the background. I decided
to turn it off and since then I’ve never gone back. I listen only briefly now,
to hear the headlines, and then return to the quiet. I do own a
television. I do make use of Netflix, YouTube, and podcasts for selective viewing/listening
of necessary and helpful material. Music, too, remains a joy for me, but not
all day long, just on walks or when cleaning.
I only offer this personal
testimony to suggest that if I, a former news junkie, could wean myself away,
maybe others can too.
Our lives are hurried and noisy. Consider well Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s exhortation and build in silence through a growing mortification of the senses. Be very selective as to what you view/listen to, and how often you do so. Find time for silence; it is golden and necessary. I have that God is waiting there for us.
So, take a moment, everyday, purposely silence your soul, and recharge the batteries of your life. Don’t be afraid of the silence. 🙂
One of the biggest challenges many people face, is finding, and or making the time to “Write”. Do you write in the morning, afternoon or night?
Real life often gives us no time to write.
In an ideal world, we’d all
have that perfect writer’s schedule. We’d rise early and toss out five thousand
words before breakfast. We’d lead off lunch with a few hundred more, and after
the kids were in bed, conclude the day with another thousand just because.
My life certainly looks
nothing like that. Does yours? From personal experience, I’m here to tell you
how to write when you have no time.
How to Write When You Have No Time
If you want to write when
your schedule is crunched, it’s going to require a little bit of prep.
It’s worth the effort.
Think of it as marinating
the chicken breast before you leave for work so it’s ready to cook when you
come home: it’s prep that leads to a faster (and more delicious) delivery.
Step One: Decide You’re Going to Do This.
This has to be
serious. Death-and-taxes serious. If you make this decision with anything
less than your full heart, it’ll go the way of New Year’s resolutions and
quick-fix diet plans. You have to decide to do this—and mean it.
That means TV can’t get in
the way. That means closing the door (if you have one) between you and spouse,
children, pets, etc.—at least for a few minutes.
They will all survive a few
minutes without you. You can survive without them, too.
Step Two: Plan a Scene.
No, not the kind where you
throw shoes and break crystal vases. I’m talking about a scene in your story.
I promise I will go into
how to pick and choose scenes later. For right now, here is your definition of
a scene: a single moment with a beginning, middle, and end, without the need
for transition. It’s the bit between fade-to-black or any kind of time-skip.
Your planned scene doesn’t have
to be in-depth. I’m not a plotter (though I wish I were), but even my pantsing
style can handle planning out one scene ahead of time. I’ll give you an
Beginning: marching into the office to clock her
required hours at her civil service job.
Middle: idiot coworker tosses all the mail down the incinerator
instead of the mail slot.
End: “So now that the wedding certificate is ash, I
am free. I can be anyone I want… but precisely who is that?”
Obviously, the details are
needed between each of those items for them to make sense, but it’s a roadmap.
It’s glow-in-the-dark stepping stones. Here’s a scene I’m planning out for my
very next writing session:
Beginning: bored with teaching, escapes through the
window and explores at night
Middle: meets HER, is taunted way above his head, has no idea what
End: returns to his room with that huge secret; doesn’t know
that by keeping it, he’s changed the course of his life
A scene could be your
character making a sandwich. It could be a single conversation. It could be one
glimpse of contemplation on the road as your character heads into work.
You can plan that scene
while waiting for email from your boss, or watching your smallest child brush
her teeth, or idling at a traffic light.
Plan a scene. Ahead of time.
Step Three (The Writing Part): Set Aside Five Minutes.
You saw that right. Five
This needs to be five
minutes without interruption. Tell your spouse about it; politely ask your
children for the space (and ignore them if they interrupt those five
minutes—that’s just teaching them boundaries, not bad parenting). Shut off the
phone. Close Twitter.
Make sure you have a timer. You can use the one at the end of this page. You can also (as I learned) type “timer” into Google search, and the Google search page itself will give you a timer. Nifty.
Are you distracted by
noise? Put on noise-cancelling headphones or those little rubber earplugs.
Don’t look out the window.
Don’t judge yourself.
Don’t question whether you
can do this. You can.
Sit down. Start the
timer. And without stopping to correct typos or any other error, write
the scene you planned out from start to finish.
Yeah, it’s that simple.
Yeah. It really is.
6 Final Tips for Writing When You Have No Time
If you need some extra
mental fortification, here are six final tips:
Anyone can manage five minutes. Most bathroom breaks are longer. It takes just a little bit more time than that to brew coffee. Don’t see it as impossible; believe it’s possible, and you’ll find it is.
Do. Not. Stop. Not while the timer is going. Even if your writing is filled with horrific typos, keep going. Even if you couldn’t remember that word and had to put, “and then she asked me about the [WHAT THE HECK IS THE NAME OF THAT SCIENCE STUDYING BIRDS], but all I could tell her was I thought the Potoo was the funniest looking bird I’ve ever seen.” (And it is, if you’ve never seen it. The Potoo looks like a Muppet.) Look up the missing word (ornithology) later. During those five minutes, you don’t stop writing for hell or high water.
The world will try to steal those five minutes. Seriously. THAT will be when the toilet overflows, or the cat swallows the other cat’s tail, or some kid with a tricycle crashes into your front porch. Keep. Writing. Five minutes; anyone and any situation (except maybe the choking-on-a-tail one) can afford five minutes.
Did I mention to avoid editing? Don’t reword. Don’t delete. It doesn’t matter if what you just wrote wasn’t the best phrasing; what matters is you got it down, and you can fix it later.
Just write like someone cut open your brain and you’re bleeding words.
Write the scene.
I know this sounds like it
won’t help you, but believe me, it will.
Look at it this way: if you
can grab six five-minute spots during a day (and you can do far more than that,
believe me), then you’ve gotten in half an hour of writing—and if you planned
out your scenes ahead of time, that’s potentially five whole scenes in one day.
Today, we are going to talk about a subject that has always fascinated me, we are going to look into this idea of faith and two people whom God finds to have the greatest faith.
One is a Canaanite woman, of whom He says,
“Woman, your faith is great!” And the second person was actually a Roman
The Lord says, “It will be done to you
according to your faith” (Matt. 9:29). You see, if my faith is little, it will
be done to me according to my faith. That means that if there is just a
small amount of faith, then that is the size of the funnel that His blessings,
guidance and revelations will come through.
A Woman of Great Faith
One such person of great faith was a woman who
initially approached Jesus in desperation. And for great reason: her daughter
“… a Canaanite woman came out from that region
and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my
daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.’ But he did not answer her a word. And His
disciples came to Him and kept asking Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is
shouting out after us’” (Matt. 15:22-23).
Jesus’ response to her seems completely out of
character — He doesn’t answer her a word.That rejection, from Jesus Himself,
was a pretty hard blow. In fact, for most of us, I thinkthat would have been
enough to stop us dead in our tracks. But not this Gentile woman.
This woman had such a persistent and
resolute—even stubborn—faith that she receivedthe blessing she needed: her
daughter was healed at once. In other words, you’ve got to have the faith
necessary for this type of miracle to take place. And what kind of faith is it?
The first quality of “great faith” this woman
shows is …
1. A Faith that Pursues God’s Best
The first quality of great faith is a faith
that is determined and stubborn, relentlessly pursuing God’s best for your life
and for those around you. You cannot wallow yourself to get thrown or dissuaded
from that. You must pursue it with all that you are!
This Canaanite woman refused to be dissuaded
or discouraged. In fact, she continued topursue Jesus even more vehemently!
God is looking for that kind of faith — one
that keeps asking, keeps seeking and keeps knocking in pursuit
of God’s best. This is a
quality that transforms a mediocre faith into a marvelous faith.
We are going to have problems. We are going to
run into walls. But we, like this Canaanite woman, must refuse to give up!
That’s a hallmark and a necessity of great faith.
2. A Faith that Refuses to be Offended
This Canaanite woman absolutely refused to be
offended: “… She came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help
me!’ He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take children’s bread and throw
it to the dogs.’ But she said, ‘Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs
which fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Oh, woman, your
faith is great’” (Matt. 15:25-28).
I don’t know about you, but if someone called
me a dog, I’d be a little offended! Yet, this lady refused. In her heart, she
had to say, “No. This is not a hill I am going to die on.” She made an internal
choice not to get hung up on a lesser offense because she was battling a larger
war. Instead, she answered Him so wonderfully.
Do you know that when I take offense, it
diminishes my faith to the point where it turns into unbelief? It’s that
serious! And because we make that first fatal choice to take offense, it
ultimately leads to unbelief, which wipes out any chance for the miraculous to
take place. If we want the miraculous, we must choose to refuse to take
Another instance of faith is found in Jesus’
interaction with a Roman centurion, a commander of the very army that oppressed
the Jews. Yet, this man stunned Jesus with his faith.
Not only did this many portray a jaw-dropping
faith, he was able to “wow” Jesus by displaying a last quality of a great
3. A Faith that Acts on God’s Word
“… the centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I
am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my
servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers
under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and
he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.’ Now when Jesus heard
this, He marveled, and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I
have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel!’” (Matt. 8:8-10).
This kind of faith was a great, rare and
dumbfounding kind of faith.
What about it was so striking? It was the fact
that the soldier said, “Lord, You don’t have to go. You just say the word and I
know it’s done!” This showed the Lord that this man believed the Word of God
and acted on it.
Do you believe God’s Word? And do
you act on it?
Believing God for What He Says
One of the most difficult dichotomies in our
lives is that we know what God says, but how much do we really believe?How
much of it do we act on?
First, you have to know what God is saying in
order to do it. And in order to know what He is saying, if you have not
developed a time for daily devotions, I encourage you to please start now.
The more you apply what God says to you, the
more it depicts the depth of relationship that you have with Him.
How much do you apply? Your answer to that
question will reflect a depth of relationship. And if I really trust Him for
His Word and there is a wonderful relationship, then I will act upon it. And
through that, God will begin to do wonderful miracles in my life and through me
into other people’s lives, too.
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” ~Carl Bard
Birthdays. They’re supposed to be a joyous celebration,
That one special day each year when we throw a
party and reflect on the day our amazing journey began.
The starting point.
I’ve had quite a colorful journey and
certainly enjoyed many wonderful birthdays in my life.
Turning 50 this past year wasn’t one of them.
When we’re little every birthday marks a major accomplishment. We learn to walk. Then we learn to talk. Then we go to school and learn our ABCs.
Everything is brand new.
When we graduate high school they tell us we
have our whole lives in front of us. Whether we’re off to college, exploring
the world, or entering the work force, we begin a whole new chapter.
A starting point.
You can just picture that open highway stretched out to infinity before you, beckoning to a future somewhere out on that horizon that calls you toadventure. All that you will become lies out there.
In my twenties, I was a freewheeling single
young man touring the world with rock stars. How bad can that be, right?
Turning 30 was awesome too! I was living in
sunny Southern California, playing music, and making records in recording
studios. Life was good.
Even 40 was great. I had moved back to New
York to play in my own band and got married. Our life together had just begun.
Then came children. I became Dad.
A starting point.
You’re supposed to have accomplished your
greatest life’s work by now, right? Achieved all your major goals. Changed the
But what if you’re still working on that? What
if you’re just now starting to figure out what you’re really supposed to be
doing with your life?
You can say many things about turning 50, but
one thing you can’t say with a straight face is that you still have your whole
life in front of you.
At this point in the journey, life has shown
you many of its cards. Not all, mind you, but you’ve got a pretty good grasp on
how the world turns. If there are still any surprises, they have mostly to do
with learning to change the way you see things.
But something else happened that was very difficult
to escape. Much as I hated to admit it, I found that I was looking around and
comparing myself to my peers.
This person has kids entering college and I’m
looking at two young children and the reality that I’ll be close to 70 by the
time the youngest is out of school.
That one is retired at 50 and buying their
second Ferrari while retirement doesn’t seem to be in the cards any time soon
When you view life this way, there’s always
going to be someone who you feel is ahead of you by your own
estimate. And you’ll never catch up to them. So that leaves
you feeling behind in some imaginary race that can’t be won.
And when the game is comparing yourself to others, you will never have enough. Ever.
Unknowingly, you build this imaginary scale to
see how you measure up against your peers. Let’s call it the Success/Happiness
curve. Yet, no matter where you believe you fall on that curve, the moment you
mark your place is to engage in a losing battle.
You believe that if you can just obtain that
(figure of money in the bank, job title, certain car) that you will have
arrived at your destination and will find happiness there.
But you won’t. Because it’s not out there.
Not in any material things you can obtain.
Whatever it is will begin to lose its luster the moment you acquire it. Then
you’ll have to look for something new to replace it and give you another fix.
And the cycle never ends.
So how do you break out of this destructive
Well first, I needed to learn how to let go of a lot of my preconceived notions about where I thought I would be by the time I reached 50.
Ultimately, I found the answer in Prayer.
Through Prayer you learn how to silence your
soul and become more aware and present.
Most of us never learn to appreciate where we
are at this very moment because we’re so focused on what happened (or didn’t
happen) in a past that no longer exists and worried about a future that hasn’t
Prayer taught me that to compare ourselves to
others is the root of human suffering, or samsara. Because it creates a
separation between ourselves and someone else. A duality. A them and an us.
Armed with this new perspective, the next
thing I did was to review my life and my experiences to figure out what was
working and what was not. This brought me face to face with a rather harsh
As much as I liken myself to be a caring
person, I realized that I’d spent most of my career focused on my own
Sure I spent a lot of time making music, which
is something very personal that you put out into the universe in the hopes that
you will connect with an audience and make them feel something.
But it turns out the giving was conditional.
It was like, “Enjoy this music and help
support my dream. Please vote for me in this
contest and buy that CD and help me or my band out.”
The focus was all wrong.
And that’s when I realized what had been
gnawing away at me all these years. It was a yearning to connect with an
audience in a meaningful way that focuses on helping them. On
seeing the world through their eyes.
And so at age 50, I am only now seeing the
Only after allowing the hidden writer within
to finally emerge did I realize that I have been telling stories my whole life.
With that came the realization that each of us has a unique story we’re supposed to tell. That’s why we’re here. And I’m supposed to help people to tell theirs
Suddenly everything felt different. Like I had
steered the boat back on course. Like a new chapter.
A starting point.
Suddenly that really successful person I
follow who I want to emulate, the one who seems so far aheadin
their journey, finally, it all gets put into perspective.
We think they just arrived where they are
We never got to see all the years they spent
toiling away in obscurity. Experimenting, missing the mark, failing. Trying to
figure out the very things we’re looking to figure out now.
Until they honed their craft to excellence and
were finally rewarded by the world for their efforts.
We never stop and give ourselves a break for
simply being on the path. It may be a path of discovery. It may be a path
toward a specific destination. Or it may be a path away from our old ways.
But you’re walking the path. Celebrate that.
The law says that if you take steps in the
direction of your destination every day and keep walking, no matter how slow or
how far you must travel, you must one day arrive there.
In Tibet they have a tradition. After a long
and arduous journey, no matter how difficult, they seek a high vantage point
and look back to see just how far they have come.
Age is irrelevant. Wherever you are in your
journey is a starting point. Whoever or whatever it is you’re chasing, slow
Realize there is no race.
Whether you’re 20 or 50 or 80, if you never
stop seeking then you’ll never cease to be amazed by what you might find.
And if every point is a starting point then
every day can be your birthday!