Thursday, January 28, 2010

The face in the mirror

It's important to periodically take a personal inventory and assess what's working, and what's not. If this rare event does take place, I'm guessing that it tends to occur at the beginning of a new year. From this process, new resolutions are made, and occasionally, real change does ensue for a few.

I just completed W. Somerset Maugham's book, The Summing Up, which was his autobiographical accounting of his life, including Maugham's thoughts on writing, literature, philosophy, and religion. Maugham, on the other hand, insisted that it wasn't an autobiography.

The book was much better than I thought it would be. One of a stack of books that my son left in his room upon returning to his MFA pursuits after a visit during the holidays, I perused the worn, dog-eared cover and set out reading through the 189 page book (at least the Signet Classic version).

Like Maugham, I've been reminiscing about my life. While he was 64 and set out to leave a more extensive account than I'm planning, the book and my 48th birthday have given me the push to perform an extensive accounting of the positives and not so positive aspects of my own life.

Additionally, I'm in the process of updating my online presence and soon will have a new website up that I hope will finally pull together my somewhat scattered digital profile and disparate blogging activity. That undertaking has forced me to reevaluate my brand, revisit my bio, and reconsider what services on the writing/publishing side are worth marketing, and the ones that best leverage my skills and strengths. All of this has been very positive for me. It's helped me see how far I've come over the past eight years, providing me with important perspective that all of us should have. Unfortunately, I think most people are unreflective in general and remain content (or maybe, not so content) to get pulled along by the current.

Interestingly, when I first began this journey to reinvent myself back in 2001, I never envisioned I'd be in the place where I'm at today. I could never picture myself motivating other people to move forward in their own lives, by offering nothing more than my own example. Rather than mere rhetoric and talk, my own pathway and progression is a clear example and demonstration of walking the talk. Instead of offering, "do what I say," I prefer to put forth an idea based in experience and reality. More of, "here is something that I think will work because I've seen the success demonstrated in my own life."

As we travel along life's thoroughfare, we learn of new areas that we need to take a fresh look at. In my own life, despite experiencing success with my writing, my career, and embracing a more optimistic outlook, I recognized an area that I had neglected.

We're so much more than spirit and soul--we also have a physical body. I had neglected to care for my own body, and its fitness needs for over a decade. My weight had been trending upward for years, and like many men approaching middle age, I knew I looked like crap, but had believed the lie that being overweight was part of aging.

I'm happy to report that it's possible to reverse many negative aspects of aging by focusing on one area and targeting it for improvement.

While I'm certainly not a medical professional, and nothing that I offer should be construed as medical advice, I would encourage readers to do some reflection and self-assessment from time to time. Committing to self-improvement is a worthwhile goal.

Even better, I think one of the reasons that we have the societal problems and challenges that we do is less about politicians and policymakers, and more about our own inability, or unwillingness to take an honest look at our own lives and embrace positive change. It's far easier to blame others for our problems.

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