Lunar Letter / A Separate Reality

Many of us live in “separate realities” due to our different points of view, expectations, and experiences. Sometimes these can be good and at others, not so.

In August of 1992, almost 25 years ago, I arrived to Venezuela between two coup attempts taking place that same year. Because of the difference in language and culture, I found myself initially in a separate reality, understanding little of all the commotion around me. My way of thinking and expressing myself marched to the beat of a different drum than those in my new home. Nevertheless, in time I became accustomed to my new reality, which despite all of its craziness, I began to like, and as such have now been here after so many years.

At the time, I also became aware of another separate reality. I found that despite not having many of the things I had been taught to be necessary for happiness, many were happy anyway. On the other hand, in the United States, where I was born and raised, I saw others who were unhappy despite living the “American Dream” and having all the toys money can buy.

In 1999, I moved to Argentina where I saw another separate reality begin to unravel and which culminated in 2002, when the government lost control of the artificial parity they maintained between the Argentine peso and the US dollar. The result was an “economic adjustment” leading to a “corral”, effectively devaluing the value of Argentine investments from one day to the next and dramatically limiting access to investors’ capital. Panic led to demonstrations, looting, and general dissatisfaction within the society.

In recent years, I have lived a separate reality, once again in Venezuela where the government sees one reality and the opposition another. We now live in an “actual reality” where the same event can have two completely different versions depending on who you listen to. Pay attention to only one of the two political forces, and they each seem to be right. Listening to the arguments of both leads to confusion and a lack of confidence, and in many cases, it’s virtually impossible to know who to believe.

Living in a separate reality can be convenient at the time, so as not to get carried away by what is happening around us. Nevertheless, there comes a time when it’s necessary to come back down to the actual reality surrounding us, accepting what we cannot change and modifying what is within our control.

The reality today in Venezuela is that it isn’t easy to happy with the hate, anger, and division in the society. As such, Venezuela needs a new reality; one designed to unify a divided country. Instead of making new laws, we should abide to those that are existing, while increasing productivity, well-being, and tranquility.

In order for this to happen, each of the “separate realities” should come together on one important point: instead of talking about “us” and “them”, we should begin to work in function of the betterment of “all”, covering us in an environment eliciting a wonderful collective smile.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 23

Lunar Letter / Beyond the Next Bend

Have you ever felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders?

I think we have all had the feeling every now and again. Economic, social, and political problems abound in the news around the world. Incessant inflation, social unrest, and political conflict with no end in sight tend to be an everyday thing for many.

What can we do to handle all these challenges?

While each situation is different, and there isn’t one answer that works for everything, to start we need only get beyond the next bend. Life is like a road full of extremely long stretches, dangerous curves, high passes and deep valleys. Each part can seem like a sensational dream or like a a terrible nightmare.

The only thing we need to do is to get past the next curve in the road. While it seems quite simple, sometimes it can be difficult. Nevertheless, think about the fact that a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step and the only part of the road where we can leave our footprints is right beneath our feet.

We can hope, and even obsess about something beautiful at the end of the road, but I insist life is about living this moment, right now. It’s common to fret about what we’ve already done and worry about what’s to come, but the truth of the matter is that the only thing we can do is to act in the present. No amount of anxiety can change what has been done in the past and worrying about what hasn’t happened is an exercise in futility leading only to frustration.

Concentrating only on making it to the next bend, we can leave done what is already done, while also leaving tomorrow for tomorrow. Each day to its own. Some days we may take only a few steps, and on others fall back. Then there will be those when everything is going right and with the wind in our sails, we go much farther, as if we were skipping over water.

Staying with on our feet firmly on the ground, our eyes firmly on the horizon, and taking one step after another is the best way to get to closer to where we want to go. Have you ever thought about the number of drops of water it takes to fill a river? Each one by itself, separate and apart, doesn’t do much, but together they create majestic rivers and magnificent lakes.

Concentrate your effort on what you can do right now to get to where you want to be tomorrow, taking the steps necessary daily to get there. Remember, Rome was not built in a day and life is not an isolated event, rather a series of occurrences making up our journey. Do what is in your power to manage each situation as it arises, giving your best effort daily. To get to where we want to go, we will get there more pleasantly and with less fatigue when we focus only on getting just beyond the next bend in the road.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 22

Lunar Letter / Play Life

Life is like a board game…

Like every game, we first throw the dice to start. As a result, we get our starting point, where we are born in the world. Some are fortunate enough to have both parents present at the event, others go their entire lives without knowing them. Some come into the world with a silver spoon in their mouth, others are lucky if they get anything to eat. Some are healthy, while others struggle for each breath. In this way, we each begin the game of life.

Our road takes different directions depending on a series of decisions. The decision, or the circumstances, bringing our parents together and their subsequent union. The decision to take the pregnancy full term, thus starting us out in the game of life. As we grow there are other decisions determining where we live and where we will study.

After this initial phase, we are the ones in large part making the decisions.

Who will friends be?

What will our pastimes be?

What will our profession be?

Our failures and successes early on depend a great deal on our environment, but there comes a time when we need to take responsibility for our lives. Chance determines where we begin this magical game, we elect where and how far we are willing to go.

Along the way there will be traps to be overcome and lessons to learn. There will be paths to take, some fun, others not. Some of our decisions will give much satisfaction, others much cause for concern. Loved ones will stay by the wayside and our most valued treasures will fade with time.

Some of the things happening to us will give rise to contemplate our part in the great whole, others will simply come and go…

In the great scheme of things, we need to determine our role. We can play the role of the victim, looking for someone to blame; or take responsibility for our faults, taking pride in what we do and striving to do better as we continue on this incredible ride.

Regardless of our place in the game, how about if we take the lead role rather than simply being a part of the background? We should take the reins of our destiny so as not to get stuck along the way, like the others who have already reached the end of the highway.

Let’s rise and rally daily, giving thanks for the new day before us and for being part of this marvelous creation. Let’s rise and rally with energy and enthusiasm taking each day in the best possible way in spite of difficulty the game may have in store for us today.

Play the game and be part of life.  When we see life as a fun, exciting game, we can overcome each difficulty being calm, cool, and collected.  Most important is not each winning or losing on each move we make rather enjoying the process. We can give our best effort to play the game daily making our own space in time, from here to eternity.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 21

Lunar Letter / Purpose

Why are we living here on Earth?

What is the meaning of life?

Where are we headed?

When will we arrive?

Which is the way?

Who knows the answer?

We contemplate these, and other existential questions, as we consider our purpose in life. The answers allow us to determine where and how we are headed.

It seems to boil down to becoming “successful”, and so comes into play our belief in success, and thus determine our purpose. It is common to think success is related to having a certain amount of money, enabling us to bask in the sun with our beverage of choice on a beach somewhere in paradise. While surely it is nice to think about doing this for a few days, or maybe even several weeks, after a couple of months it would surely be quite boring. What meaning can life possibly have, if we do nothing?

Why would doing nothing eventually be boring?

Every living being is meant to be useful. Everything has its purpose. If the bees and insects are of benefit in the food chain in their own way.

Shouldn’t we also be useful?

Throughout history we can see examples of people who have come together with others to achieve an objective, drive change, or simply to be useful. When it comes to survival, we all must do our part.

It’s worthwhile to ask:

How useful are you?

What value do you give?

What is your purpose in life?

To whom are you important?

Who benefits from your actions?

What is your part in this great whole?

What can you do to better what you do?

Most important aren’t the answers we give, rather the questions we pose. The rules of life are quite easy and not very complicated. Everyone must be useful in life and do their part. When we are useful, we are able to enjoy the best it has to offer because sooner or later, we receive what we give.

Finding our purpose in life isn’t always easy and it can take an entire lifetime to do; but when we do, we become an integral part of the great whole. Sharing that special something we all have is one of life’s greatest greatest gifts.

If you are still not sure about your purpose, find it and share it with the world. Life does not consist in working so that one day we can do nothing, rather finding that something keeping us alive and in the present each day as we give the best we have to offer to the world.

Purpose gives meaning to life.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 20

Lunar Letter / Be Congruent

Among our most difficult challenges is to be congruent with what we feel and who we are. From the time we are small children, we are infused with ideas about the rules and norms we should follow; about what is right and wrong, as well as what we should and should not do.

As a child, we are told: “Big boys don’t cry,” and, “Little girls should always look pretty.” Nevertheless, the pain producing tears doesn’t distinguish between gender, and we all have a bad day every now and then, even if we are beautiful. We are taught in school to be the best student in the class, instead of being instructed to learn and to be wise. We were rewarded when we followed the rules and punished when we went outside the limits. We were taught to embrace the the model of a responsible father and a loving mother.

As we grew, we also learned we should always be happy and motivated, because being depressed and down doesn’t “look good”, and as such, isn’t allowed. We have been trained to dress impeccably before going out into the world, and of course, we should always have a smile from ear to ear. We have been educated to grin even when we feel bad and to say “thank you” and “please” even when it doesn’t seem right. We have been conditioned to be quiet, when it makes no sense.

It’s worthwhile to ask ourselves

Why have we been brought up this way and who is responsible for filling our heads with so many prejudices between what is good and bad?

More than society, which makes a great scapegoat, it has been our own parents, and their parents before them. With the best of intentions they transmitted a series of ideals about characteristics a perfect person should possess, which by the way, are virtually impossible to achieve.

Has there ever been anybody whose behavior was beyond reproach, at all times, and with no exception?

Is there anyone who in a moment of weakness has not said even a “little white lie” with the justification of not making someone feel bad?

It’s easy to talk about honor, honesty and even integrity, but it’s very difficult (if not impossible), to live a life without mistakes or an occasional black cloud covering our world.

Is it realistic and desirable to want to be the perfect person we have been told we should be?

Is there anything worse than going to a job we hate, or having to live over and over again the same drama with the same person?

Instead of trying to be the perfect person in some fairy tale, we can give our best effort to be the best we can be by being congruent with what we feel, think, and do, taking into account that:

We don’t always feel good

We don’t always want to go out like a smiling “knight in shining armor”

We don’t always want to be working in a dead end job leading us absolutely nowhere

We don’t always want to have the same discussions, for the same reasons, with the same people

When we understand that what is really right and wrong has more to do with what we feel inside than anything outside, we begin to comprehend it isn’t necessary to conform or bend to every norm we have ever learned. In addition, we can recognize our parents, teachers, and others who have influenced us, have not wanted to purposely hurt us, and on the contrary, they have wanted to help us; though many of their teachings don’t hold up under reality.

So, what can we do?

We can be congruent by giving our best effort, despite not feeling good

We can be congruent by saying “I can’t go on” when our body says, “Stop!”

We can be congruent by doing the best we can in the job we have, knowing it is what keeps us alive and can get us to where we want to go

We can be congruent by saying, “Enough,” to the person who continues like a scratched record, saying the same things over and over, we don’t want to hear ad infinitum.

Life isn’t always brilliant, beautiful, and bright. There are times when we will not feel good and when it seems as if the weight of the world is upon us. In those instances, we can give our best effort with what we’ve got, where we are, and how we are. Being congruent is knowing that even though we may not be perfect, we are perfect in our own imperfection.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 19

Lunar Letter / Financial Freedom

While many strive for financial freedom, few actually seem to attain it.

Why do so few people achieve this worthy ideal?

The problem doesn’t tend to be one of education, or earning capacity, rather a lack of planning. If we don’t plan our financial health, we will be like a ship without a rudder or a sail on the high seas of life, constantly being pushed and shoved by circumstances. When we have a plan to achieve financial freedom, inconveniences are but minor detours.

While there are many ways to define financial freedom, I will define it this way:

“Financial freedom is being able to do what you want to do, where you want to do it, and with whom you want to do it.”

Looking at financial freedom in this way, it isn’t so difficult to achieve, though it is far from easy. It takes determination, perseverance, and persistence. In most cases, it takes time, though there are always exceptions.

Three steps to put you on track to financial freedom:

1) Pay yourself first: Before paying others, pay yourself first. While we tend to pay the electricity, the telephone, the water, as well as the rest of our bills without thinking twice about them, the payment many miss is to pay themselves. I suggest you pay yourself 10% of everything you earn. Aren’t you worth it? If you are really good at what you do, why not pay yourself a bit more? I know it seems impossible, and in the beginning it is difficult, but you can establish the habit of putting aside 10% of everything you earn. You will soon learn you can manage the rest of your expenses by either reducing them or making more money. It’s that simple.

2) Use a professional: When investing your money, seek out the right professional to advise you along the way. Would you ask your best friend to fix your plumbing, if he isn’t a plumber? Of course not, so why would you ask him for investment advice? When you are ready to invest your money, look for an expert in the area you want to invest. If you want to invest in diamonds, find a jeweler; if you want to invest in real estate, find a real estate professional; if you want to invest in the stock market, find an investment professional. Taking advice from the wrong person with your hard earned money can be a very costly mistake.

3) Invest in yourself: After you have saved enough money to cover unexpected emergencies, begin to invest in yourself. Buy your own home, invest in your education and in your self-improvement. Find out what it is that you really love and enhance your ability to do it, because when you love what you do for a living, you will be happy. One goes with the other. Invest your time and money to become the best you can be at that activity. Once you do, you will never have to work another day in your life, and the money will come readily.

The majority of people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. Reaching financial freedom isn’t about having a specific amount of money in the bank. It is about wisely using your financial resources to take care of short, intermediate and long-term necessities. Paying yourself first, using professionals and investing in your future gives you the wherewithal to create your own life doing what it is you love to do, where you want to do it, and with those you want to do it with; this is financial freedom.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 18

Lunar Letter / Cause and Effect

What we are and what we have is the direct result of what we have done, or in many cases simply left undone, with what we have been given. Though this seems to be so simple and clear, it isn’t always so easy to realize that for every cause, there is an effect. Sometimes the results are positive, and others, not so.

The Third Law of Isaac Newton tells us:

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

While this may be the case with physical objects, it doesn’t always hold true in human relations or emotions. While it seems clear there is a direct cause and effect for our actions, they don’t always appear to be equal or opposite. Sometimes the effect is more magnified, other times minimized; while the direction can be the same, or opposite.

Let’s take a look at an example. We have two employees, working in the same company, doing the same work, and with the same pay. One of them always arrives before starting time, gives his best effort to get his work done, goes with the flow, and stays after quitting time when necessary. The other typically arrives late, does his best to avoid work at all cost, resists change, and is out the door like a bat out of hell at quitting time.

While it is not always the case, in general the first person will be promoted and generally do well in life regardless of his profession. The other one is likely to be one more waiting in line for a handout, and then disappointed if he doesn’t get it. Of course, there will times when someone works diligently and does not go far. Also there will be others, when those with bad intentions get ahead despite their actions, but these tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

We are not responsible for where we are born, or under which circumstances, but we are responsible for where we end up. When it comes to our troubles, we love to blame them on our parents, our colleagues, or any other handy scapegoat. Nevertheless, there is only one person who is responsible for where we are, how we are, and who we are today. We are, in fact, quite familiar with this person as we see him or her every morning when we wake and see our reflection in the bathroom mirror.

The equation for cause and effect is quite simple, and goes something like this:

  • Those who get up and go to school, get educated; those who won’t, simply stay stupid
  • Those who are enthusiastic about life, find gems wherever they go; those who are not find rocks instead
  • Those who plant good seeds day after day, reap bountiful harvests, those who plant bad seeds, rot and fester
  • Those who rise with the sun and work until it goes down, earn an honest day’s pay; those who stay in bed look to be fed
  • Those who look for opportunities in life, find them everywhere; those who keep their eyes closed daily see opportunity no where

We get out of life what we put into it. When we live with love, compassion, and freedom, our will, will be done. If we live with hate, anger, and jealousy, we will be lucky if anything gets done. As sure as the day follows the night, we will harvest tomorrow the seeds we sow today, because every cause has an effect.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 17

Lunar Letter / Color Your World

img_0124Media bombards us daily with trouble where we live and abroad. In addition to all the world’s challenges, we must also resolve our own economic, social, and emotional necessities. Despite all the noise, I have a proposal…

Instead of complaining
and lamenting, how about if you color your world with love, hope, and a positive attitude?

 

In my first book A SPECIAL GIFT, I propose creating a habit to live a happier and more productive life. In the text, there is a “book within the book,” called Reflections. My suggestion is simple, read daily one of the reflections to obtain and maintain an excellent attitude. Each relates to the word ATTITUDE in the following way (click to go to the Reflections):

attitude

In time, I decided to assign a day of the week to each of the Reflections. While it doesn’t coincide exactly in English, the Spanish version works very well, as follows:

attitude-with-days

As I wrote Reflections, assigning a day to each wasn’t my intention, in time it has taken form and makes sense. Monday is perfect to begin the week with Action. Tuesday is a great day to work on Confidence which helps us in all we do. Wednesday is for Tenacity to get us through hump day. Thursday is time to step up our game with Initiative to create a better way. Friday is a great day to practice Tolerance and compassion, forgiving those who trespass against us, for they know not what they do. Saturday is to be Useful to others and ourselves. Finally, Sunday is a great day to take a pause, reflect on the week that was, the week that will be, and most importantly, about how our Desire and passion align with our daily activity. Each day with its own reflection to make it a bit more interesting.

As a result of a suggestion from a reader, I now cover each day with color, so now each day looks like this:

attitude-colors

If you follow me, surely you have noted for some time now, I cover each day with a concept and a color. The pattern becomes even more dynamic as I combine a daily a Seed of Success for each day of the month.

In this way, each day My Message for You is sustained by three pillars:

Reflection + Color + Seed of Success = My Message for You

The main ideas behind each of the 31 seeds I use throughout the month are as follows:

31-daily-seeds

Feeling good and motivated is not a part time thing, done from time to time; rather a full time job which should be done daily as long as we live.

Think for a moment about painting your life with:

  • Color
  • Reflections
  • Seeds of Success
  • My Message for You

Each day gives us the chance to create a rainbow of opportunity.

What are you waiting for?

Rainbow

I invite you to go forth with me daily with color and thought to put your best foot forward. Having an upbeat, positive attitude will not solve all of our challenges, but it will help us get through each of them with more clarity and dignity. We can stay off to one side watching others as life goes by or get up on stage to play the leading role in our own history.

Will you get up onstage and join me to giving color and thought to each day?

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 16

Lunar Letter / The Dawn of a New Day

ri

The dawn of a new day is upon us. Opportunity is now here on a daily basis and it is up to each of us to take advantage of this moment, or waste it away in nothingness.

Problems and troubles abound in a world where war and terrorism dominate the headlines. Dirty politics and social warfare are the rule, rather than the exception. Though we have the capacity to feed and house the world, instead we prefer to protect our own turf; later finding ourselves surprised at how hunger kills so many indiscriminately.

What if each of us looked at the other as our brother giving a helping hand rather than chastising and reprimanding them?

What if we each began to look at the big picture of our brief time here on Earth, rather than being so protective of our own self interests?

Money, like the ocean, ebbs and flows. Similarly, our best friend may too one day move away and go. Loved ones will also go one by one, until one day, we will be the ones to go from this reality we call life to another reality yet unknown.

Like the rock, polished by the adversity of time, each of life’s little heartaches are no more than a bump in the road, making us better as we go. The game changes, we make adjustments and simply work our way through. Yet through all of our ups and our downs, there is one thing we can always count on…

A New Dawn will Come

1438197_37913195

Tomorrow, just before daybreak, the faint light of the sun will appear softly on the horizon, indicating the dawn of a new day. Within a matter of minutes, the darkest of nights becomes a magical wonder as the sun makes its entrance into a new day.

As the dawn of each new day breaks, consider each of the days in the billions of years the planet has in existence. In each case, the sun has peeked tenuously over the horizon before coming forth big, bold, and beautiful, giving each living thing the light and energy necessary to make it to another day.

Consider also, the darkness blanketing the world with so much terrible news. History is replete with stories which make our skin crawl at the evil nature some hold. Daily news stories strike awe throughout the world, as a select few take it upon themselves to wreak havoc wherever they go.

Yet through all of this, good tends to prevail over bad, truth over deception, and positivism over negativism. At times it seems we are too small to make much of a difference in this humongous, wondrous world. We often forget life does not consist in getting from here to there in one huge bound, rather being part of the show and sticking around.

15060418_10205578901430643_2145602848_o

We can each raise the banner of hope we have inside, bearing witness to the dawn of each new day, doing our best to play each in the very best possible way.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 15

Lunar Letter / Eternal Lines of Times

clouds-1209444_640In what we know as the grand concept of time, the time we have in this world is relatively short.
During the first stage of our lives, we are dedicated to learning about our world and our place in it.  During the second, we do what we can to obtain a plentiful life, be it alone or accompanied.  In the third, we consider what we have done and analyze the winding road over which we have come.  As part of our learning process, we ask ourselves:family-810297_640Why are we here?
What is life about?
While I confess, I do not know the answer, these and other questions commonly come to mind as we think about what happens when we pass from what we now as our existence.
Is there life after this one?
Could it be, when this one is over, it’s all done?
Regardless of the final result, there is something we can do to assure a part of us remains, even after when we are physically gone.  Starting today, we can write eternal lines of time in the hearts of those we love.
pen-1584239_640For me, it’s fun to do it with my daily writing, which will stay around somewhere for quite sometime.  Also, it is true we write words and leave our mark through the small actions and words we all leave daily along our way.
The eternal lines of time we write remain in the hearts of those with whom we come into contact.  Many times we forget that what we do and what we say becomes etched into the lives of others and remembered in ways perhaps far beyond what we can possibly imagine.
The eternal lines of time we leave are reflected in the words and the actions carried from generation to generation, from father to son, from mother to daughter.  Similarly, they are reproduced in those who cross our path.letters-801755_640
We often forget what we do is left as our testament.  It represents our passage through time.  Though we are not perfect, and will likely commit many “horrors” on our road, we can do our best daily to assure our thoughts, words, and actions are the best we can possibly give.
We can decide if the eternal lines to time we write are left haphazardly, without rhyme or reason, or if on the contrary, they are left intentionally and carefully putting our best foot forward to construct a beautiful memory which will one day be all that is left of our journey here on Earth.clock-1205634_640
Begin today to write the eternal lines of time you want to be remembered.  Write them to those you love, show them to those on the way, and above all, live them to make sure your journey is more significant and pleasurable.
∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 14