Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Season of Change

A Season of Change

It was Christmas of last year. The snow was lightly falling outside. Large flakes were slowly floating down to cover the ground in pure white. We were comfortably sitting inside watching the beauty of this amazing season unfold in front of us.

We certainly didn’t have much. We had just gone through losing our home and we were preparing to file for bankruptcy. The realization that we had to start over was slowly sinking in. But somehow, on that day, things seemed right. Our girls were happy, we were together and as a family unit I felt that we would be able to face our pending challenges and overcome them.

Watching our three daughters adjust to our new reality made me proud. They asked for little and they seemed happier with less.

After they were asleep Michelle and I would talk about how we thought the girls deserved more. How we felt we had failed them. Then the question arose, “Deserve more of what?” The girls certainly hadn’t asked for more. We had imposed a sense of guilt on ourselves for not being able to give them the kind of Christmas we felt we were supposed to provide. As I reflected on that, I understood that I was dealing with a sense of guilt and failure for where my life was currently. I believed that I deserved to be unhappy. I believed I deserved to feel like a failure. Self pity is a harbinger of untold misery.
I also knew that if I didn’t change my thinking, if I didn’t change my perspective, that my emotions would continue to cripple me. I was exactly in the place I had chosen to put myself, and I would continue to be there until I chose differently.

I had to take a step back. I had a choice to look at things differently. I needed perspective. Like all of us in life I had come to a crossroads. My life’s choice was I could either focus on the set-back and the disappointment or look at the gift I was given, the opportunity to change. I had the opportunity to learn and grow and create something new in my life. Circumstance had forced that on me. Was I up to the task? Was I willing to learn from past regrets? Was I willing to forgive myself and move on?

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “Men live lives of quiet desperation.” How true that is. I know countless people who live by the belief of, “if only.” “If only I had this I would be happy.” Or, “if only this happened I would be happy.” It’s cultural; it’s what we are spooned fed everyday by the entertainment we consume and the moronic celebrity culture we live in.

One absolute in life is we will go through many trials and many disappointments. But ultimately our happiness is our own responsibility.

However, that doesn’t change the fundamental question. Why do we live lives of quiet desperation? I think it’s because we live life in a state of regret or fear. Regret for what could have been, fear of failure. That regret or fear quickly metastasizes into guilt and ultimately a life of frustration and quiet desperation.

This is not to say that there won’t be circumstances forced on some of us that are completely out of our control. It does not minimize the pain or the challenges that will be presented. It also doesn’t change the fact that we are meant to be happy. We are meant to “find joy.” That is a God given blessing........ a God given personal responsibility. No one else can be in charge of your happiness. It is meant to be that way so that we learn to value our personal initiative, our free will.

This Christmas lets look beyond the mark and celebrate it for what it is, a time to be thankful for our God given blessings, not only for what we have but also for what we can become. It’s a time to prioritize and commit to a life that is greater than ourselves. A time to dream of what we can become, what we can accomplish and the differences we can make; the lives we can live. This can truly be a Season of Change.  

As always thanks for reading my blog and please share it with anyone you think it might help.

Merry Christmas and God Bless

Scot Boley

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 2, 2012

The Fog of Life
            There is a story I recently read of an old man who saved for many years to go on a once in a lifetime cruise. His family was from the old country of Greece and he wanted to experience his homeland. He came from meager beginnings and had been conditioned his whole life to accept the fact that there should always be limitations on his dreams.
While on the cruise he spent all of his time in his small cabin. He read books and ate the food he had brought with him. He had filled up his suitcase with tins of sausage and cheese and he was carefully rationing it to make sure that he had enough. He determined before he left that he was going to bring his own food to save money.
At night he would venture out into the hall and watch people as they walked by in their best clothes, on their way to a show or party that was being held somewhere on the enormous boat. All the while he would be thinking to himself how ridiculous those people were for spending their money so recklessly.     
When the boat would pull into port cities he would periodically go up on deck to take a look but never venture off of the boat. He was determined to use his money wisely and not spend it on frivolous things.
On the final night of the cruise there was one last party the cruise line was hosting to celebrate their safe voyage. A young steward knocked on the old mans door and kindly inquired, “Are you going to be attending the party tonight?”
            The old man quickly retorted, “Oh no, I could never afford to do that!”
            “But sir, you already paid for it as part of your ticket price,” Responded the steward.
            “You mean to tell me that I paid for that when I paid to take this voyage?” The old man responded incredulously.
            “Yes Sir. You paid for this party, all of the meals on the cruise, all of the fabulous shows and activities the cruise line offers, and safe transport into each city we have visited.” The steward said empathetically knowing that the old man had not enjoyed any of those experiences that he had paid for.
            “Why didn’t anyone tell me?!” The old man asked angrily.
            “Sir, you earned the money to take this trip. You paid for the ticket. We assumed that you would take the time to read the information that we gave you describing what this trip offers.” The steward said gingerly.
The old man stepped back into his room and slowly closed the door knowing that he had squandered his once in a lifetime trip.
            How many of us look at life through the same prism, telling ourselves that as soon as we accomplish that one last task we will enjoy the fruits of our labor? How many of us tell ourselves that tomorrow is going to be different? How many of us reject the happiness that we have already earned because we are already trapped by the next challenge we are facing?
            Life is full of daily challenges for all of us. It always has been and it always will be. That’s just life. People who do not let life’s challenges define them find true happiness in the moment. We earn the right to be happy by doing the best we can do. We earn the right to be happy by not taking ourselves to seriously. We earn the right to be happy by being content with what we have today and not comparing ourselves to anyone else.
            Take a moment and enjoy the sunset, snuggle up with your kids and watch a movie or spend time with the one you love. Those are all small gifts that are much more important then worrying about things we can’t control. Start fresh, free from the fog of life.    

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's Your Life, Take Control of It.

Everyone of us faces adversity. The purpose behind this blog is to chronicle my own challenges, and at the sametime share the insights that I've gained through this process.

I believe that it's through our most difficult challenges that our character is is honed. (The hottest fires make the strongest steel.) Whatever the challenge is, it is unquestionably going to have an impact on us. It's up to us to determine whether that challenge becomes a stepping stone to greater things, or a step back to further despair. Its entirely in our control.

I certainly don't have all of the answers, but I know that there are certain truths that apply to us all. These truths can help us not only overcome adversity, but create the lives that we want for ourselves and our families.

A few weeks ago I read an article about how frequently our brain transmits new thoughts. The human brain transmits approximately 6,500 new thoughts a day. That is a new thought almost every 4.5 seconds. I started to wonder, how many negative thoughts do I have on a given day. I decided to be my own guinea pig and do a little experiment. I went and bought a clicker. For those of you who don't know what a clicker is, its the little thing the counters hold as you walk into a Costco. Their job is to physically count how many people come into a store. My objective was to count how many negative thoughts I have on a given day. I stopped counting at 500 and I hit that number before noon. I realized I was consumed by negative thoughts. Those negative thoughts were a manifestion of how I felt about myself and were reflected in how I carried myself.Needless to say, I realized that if I didn't change my thought patterns I was going to continue struggle with my circumstances. I may not have control of my circumstances, but I do have control of my thoughts and how I deal with my circumstances.

The next day I decided to flip it around. How many positive thoughts do I have in a given day? Maybe they balance each other out.

That first day I counted only 42 positive thoughts. Take into consideration that I had to consciously be aware of my thoughts, so I'm sure that I had more positive thoughts then that throughout the day. None the less, it's easy to see that my dominate thoughts patterns were negative. How could I possibly began to rebuild my life when all I could see was the negative.What the mind focuses on is exemplified in how we live.

Do you know someone that is so insufferable that everytime you're around them you are emotionally drained? Their demeanor exudes a sense of dread and unhappiness. The sky is always falling. It's my contention that they act that way by choice. Subconsciously they have decided that it's easier to be miserble than to be happy. Let's be honest, human nature is to focus on the negative and not the positive. It's easier to ridicule and criticise than to help and build up. It's easier to focus on all that is bad rather than everything that is good. It truly takes effort to be happy and positive.

Life is filled with challenges for us all. Success and happiness depends on the person that is willing to accept the bitter with the sweet. How can one possibly recognize the light if they haven't experienced the dark? All  things, good and bad, begin with a thought. The thought precedes the action. The action precedes the outcome. The outcome in all of our lives will be determined first by our thoughts.

My assignment for you this week, go and buy a clicker. It may be the best investment you ever make. As I said in an earlier blog post. It is our individual responsibility to "know thyself." At the end of the day, we have true control over only one thing, that is ourselves and how we respond to any given situation. That response begins with a thought.

As always please feel free to share this with anyone you may think this might help. Also please contact me with your own thoughts and feelings.

Warmest Regards,
Scot Boley   

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Utilities or Groceries

“If you can’t see the bright side to life, polish the dull side.”

One thing that I’ve learned about dealing with adversity is when you’re right in the middle of it, it’s hard to see the proverbial forest because of the trees. Some days are better than others, but when things aren’t going as planned, it’s much easier to focus on the negative rather than the positive. I think that’s probably a truth that applies to life regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. Sometimes being happy is a lot of work; It takes effort.

A few months ago I had been working on a project that had all but been funded. I was told that the project was a go, documents were signed and I was waiting to be paid for my services. I needed this project to close just to provide for my family. A lot was riding on it.

I sent my client an invoice and felt like things were starting to look-up. A few days later I got a call from my client. He told me he needed a little time to pay me he didn’t have the money and he needed some time to pay me. He needed 30 days. My back was up against the wall and I didn’t know what to do.

Two days later I’m going through our family finances picking which bills to pay and which ones I can postpone. I realize I only have enough to buy groceries or to pay for the utilities. I don’t have enough for both. At that moment, it was easy to feel sorry for myself and I did. But that didn’t solve my problem. I still had a choice to make. Depending on how I dealt with it, I was either going to make it a really big issue for the kids, or I could make it a small issue. It all depended on how I presented it.

The next night when I got home from work, our water had been turned off. I went out and went grocery shopping. I told the kids that I’d forgotten to pay the bill and that it would be back on in a couple of days. I’m sure the older girls knew I was hiding something but they didn’t let on. We made do with what we had.

In the scope of challenges other people are facing, I know that this is relatively inconsequential. However, all of our struggles are relative to where we are emotionally at that time. What may be a struggle for one person may not be that big of struggle for another. My struggle was the realization that I couldn’t provide the necessities for my family; even if it was only temporary. The blow was to my pride.

In the end what made the difference was we made the choice to get through it.

A few days later I was sitting by myself thinking about that experience. This feeling of relief overcame me. It was as though this enormous weight had been lifted off of my chest, and the thought came to me to “just let it go.” It was a voice that spoke to me. As I thought about it more, the relief I felt became more tangible. It was a real thing, an actual object and not just an emotion.  I wrote that saying, “just let it go” on a little piece of paper that I carry with me everyday so that I don’t forget.

I also realized that the pressure that I was feeling was just as tangible and just as real as the relief. It was a real thing, not just an emotion that I had imagined. I could feel it crushing my chest.

I’m facing one situation, and depending on how I deal with it, it affects me in two very different ways. The situation is difficult, but the outcome is entirely up to me. Ultimately what I have, what we all have is the ability to choose. That is the one constant. Our choices whether they be good or bad are ours. We can choose how we deal with life’s challenges. That is the ultimate freedom. It’s also the ultimate responsibility. My belief is once we accept that responsibility, we become truly free.

As always thanks for reading this blog. Please share this with anyone you think it may help.

Warmest Regards,
Scot Boley


Monday, July 30, 2012

A Kick in the Teeth

Walt Disney said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Well, I was definitely getting a good kick in the teeth.

To get to the point where you file for bankruptcy you have to hit rock bottom. However, getting to that point is a gradual decline. It does not happen over night.

As things continued to deteriorate, I continued to naively believe that I could turn things around and get back on top of this mess that I had made for myself and my family. I just needed a little bit of luck and I needed to work harder. I think that’s a reasonable response to a self-inflicted challenge, don’t you? Funny thing though, it takes a long time for reality to set in when you become desperate. And I was desperate. That desperation quickly turned to depression. That depression fluctuated between depression and anger.

Well I’m tired of being angry. I’ve been angry for a long time and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

When you file for bankruptcy, the first thing you do is fill out a bankruptcy packet. The purpose of this is to give the bankruptcy court an in-depth look at your financial history. If they’re going to grant you bankruptcy relief, they want to know everything about you. In addition to that, they want you to understand what went wrong so that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

I had to provide them a detailed asset and liability sheet, a profit and loss statement, tax returns, and in my case the most emotionally draining document, a detailed list of all of our possessions and a value. Why was this so difficult? Because it caused me to look at my possessions and realize that this is what I had worked my whole life for. Nothing but stuff. Crap really. Don’t get me wrong, I like having nice things, but it really shed a light on what my priorities had been.
The real questions I started to ask myself were, “Outside of this stuff I’ve accumulated, what is my life worth?”  “Do my kids know I love them?” “Do they know they are more important to me than anything else in the world?” “Does Michelle, my wife know I love her, and do I show that in a way that she not only knows it, but feels it?” “Have I made an impact in the world that I can truly feel proud of?” “What is my legacy?” I’d been kicked in the mouth with a steel-toed boot. I’m not satisfied with how I answered any of those questions. I’d become just another rat in the cage, working to survive and surviving to work.

We are all faced with the challenge of coming to know who we are. We must individually decide what our personal values are and then commit to living by those values. No one else should have that power over us. It is an individual mandate. What did I learn from filling out those bankruptcy forms? Man, know thyself.

As always thank you for reading this blog entry and please feel free to share my blog that you think this might help.

Warmest Regards,
Scot Boley    

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Foreclosure Notice

I know that there are a lot of people that are going through something similar to this or some other devastating challenge. It may be the end of a marriage or someone dealing with a physical or emotional aliment. For all of those challenges you’re dealing with I’m sorry.

The reason that I’ve decided to write this blog is because there were a lot of times that I felt absolutely alone. I was depressed and angry and felt hopeless. I did not know where to go. It’s my hope that by sharing my story, it will give those of you going through your own struggles that knowledge that you are not alone.

We knew we were going to lose the house.  The writing was on the wall and it was just a matter of time. Even knowing that, when I got home from work that day and saw the foreclosure notice on the garage it knocked the wind completely out of me. I felt like I had been hit in the chest with a sledge hammer. I stepped to the side of the house and lost it. Michelle and the girls hadn’t seen the notice yet and I had to break the news to them. First I had to compose myself. I needed to be stoic and reassuring. Michelle and I needed to provide the kids with a sense of stability. We needed to make sure that they felt secure. But how was I supposed to do that when things were anything but secure?

They were giving us 30 days to move out.

You see bankruptcy is very much a psychological challenge. Everything about it denotes failure. It was a reflection of my inability to provide for my family. As a man, and like most men, I have always prided myself on my ability to provide. That is my job….. my responsibility. This bankruptcy represented an attack on my inadequacies. My inability to fulfill my responsibilities to the ones I love.

I went into the house, found Michelle, pulled her into our bedroom and told her. We hugged each other and cried. You see, at that moment it wasn’t about us and it wasn’t about the house. It was about the kids. We both felt like we were failing them. They didn’t bring this onto themselves, we brought this onto them. It was a rough day.

We decided not to tell them that day. We had 30 days to move and we needed to think carefully about where we were going to go and what we were going to say. However, that night sitting there in that house that was no longer ours, we sat with our girls and talked and laughed about what had happened to them during the day. Kenna described to us the new moves she was learning for the high school drill team. Mady filled us in on her little boy crush. And Bella just laughed and giggled the whole time because……..well, that’s Bella. We had a lot to be thankful for.

The lesson that I learned from that is to be thankful for what I have today. Somehow or another tomorrow will take care of itself. Many of you are probably like me; you look at your life in terms of where you’re going to be in 5 or 10 years. Its common, we all look towards the future, but in the process often times forget the present. How many times in our daily lives are we so rushed that we forget to enjoy the moment? Today will come and go but we don’t even realize it because we’re so focused on tomorrow. Savor the moments we have today, tomorrow will take care of itself.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Beginning

July 23, 2012

It is with much trepidation that I have made the decision to start this blog. I have come to the conclusion that we live in a hyper-sensitive society in which, out of embarrassment, we often times hide the most pivotal experiences in our lives. We publicly celebrate our accomplishments and victories, but hide the experiences that make us who we are. With that said, I open myself up to whatever may come from this. It is my absolute belief that through our greatest challenges we become our strongest selves. I do this to share my challenges and the invaluable lessons I’ve learned from them.

I’ve decided that laughter truly is the best medicine. Looking back on it now, some of the experiences I’ve had over the last few years are absolutely hilarious. If it were someone else telling me the story and they were good natured about it, I would find it completely amusing. With that said, I also know that truly comes down to perspective. My perspective has changed drastically through my experiences and frankly a light bulb has finally gone on. It’s like stepping out into the warm sun after a long winter lull, or the first time I kissed my wife; it’s exhilarating. Quick disclaimer, just because I used that example of kissing my wife for the first time, does not mean it’s not exhilarating when I kiss her now.

For the record, I like quotes. I will periodically use them if I think that it will help me clarify a point. One of my favorites is by that astute purveyor of the English language Yogi Berra.

 “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going because you might not get there.”

 Huh, what? I know, although that statement makes little sense on the surface, it describes perfectly where I was. I was lost and I didn’t know it. I had done all of the things I thought I was supposed to do to get to where I thought I wanted to be in life just to realize that I really didn’t know where I wanted to be. How’s that for a run-on sentence?
Let me describe to you my career path.  I have spent my entire professional career working with some of the largest retailers in the world, helping them formulate commercial real estate strategies for their businesses growth. My expertise was helping these companies successfully execute their growth strategies by helping them understand the demographic patterns and spending habits of the Rocky Mountain Region. I’m good at my job. However, when the market started to collapse it happened fast. Plans for expansion were tabled and in the process my business began to dry up. I was in a state of panic. That was 2008.
Luckily Michelle, my wife, had built a successful business and I felt fortunate that we could continue to build that while my business slowly turned around.
That all changed quickly. Michelle’s business literally burned down four days after she received her Christmas inventory. The Landlord was replacing the roof and one of the contractors had dropped a cigarette butt into the rafters. Before we knew it the whole building was gone. We we’re in trouble.
That was the beginning of my personal transformation. I was thrust into a very uncomfortable situation, and my carefully crafted life began to unravel. Thus began my education, learning the most valuable lessons I could ever learn.
Two years later after having lost everything, our automobiles being repossessed, our home foreclosed on and filing for bankruptcy, Michelle and I still have the most valuable gift one could ever have. We have each other and we have our three wonderful daughters. Life continued on and I had learned some valuable life lessons that I could only learn by growing through this hardship. Looking back on it now, I feel so fortunate to have gone through this experience. I would not see things the same way unless I had experienced this.

I am going to continually update this blog with my stories and the lessons I’ve learned. Please email me, scot.boley@gmail.com or message me on Facebook and I promise I’ll respond. Also, please share this with anyone that you may feel this might help.

Yours Truly,
Scot Boley