Category Archives: write

Lessons from the Fire

IMG_0465
Lessons from the fire

What can we learn about life from rebuilding a fire that has nearly gone out? Do the steps to rebuild a fire sound similar to the steps you can take to rekindle passion for your spouse, your church, your job or an abandoned hobby?

I’ve spent many nights staring into the fire and thinking about life. I’ve studied the embers and asked God a lot of questions. The fire has many lessons to teach. Let’s explore one lesson together…with all the steps in how To Rebuild a Fire.

1. When the passion has nearly gone out, move evenly and with moderation in your thoughts and be slow to speak. Haste to speak and act are the enemy of rebuilding passion. It is so easy to make things worse by jumping to conclusions and flinging blame. So be thoughtful and move carefully just like you would with a dying fire.

2. Take a stand emotionally and physically if necessary against the things that are blowing out your passion. The winds of being too busy, too tired, too stressed and too distracted need to be blocked.

3. Carefully lift each piece of your schedule and position the things that excite passion toward the center of your life. Plan to do the things and say the words that brought warmth to your soul and to others when your passion was strong. Go back to what was working. Make many small adjustments like you would with a dying fire until the warmth begins to rise.

rekindle4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the warm pieces of wood. This step is suppling yourself with the tools that are oxygen to your passion. Dating is oxygen to a marriage. A class might be oxygen to a tired old job. Volunteering in a different way might breath life back into your church life. Blow away some of the ash that has covered up your true joy and give it fuel.

5. When your air is gone, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. When we get into life deep with all the doing, doing, doing, you will need to back away from the toxins of your day and draw healthy air in from time with God, reading His Word and listening to Him. Back away from too much doing and focus on being. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Keep at it! When you pick something in your life that needs to be reinvigorated, keep at it—don’t give up! Repeat till you get a flame. Be aware that it will often burst into flame just at the end of a long breath when your lungs are empty.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the flame begins to grow. Don’t try to change everything at once. Be choosy and be careful.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size of flame. Be a good manager of what you have rekindled. What ever heart desire you picked to rekindle is worth managing carefully.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind. Take steps to build in protection for what you have rescued and lay in more fuel for the future to prevent another slow decline.

My Honey is a master at knowing when to step back from the doing and focus on being. She has a connection with our Creator that is a blessing. She is a canary in the coal mine—her sensitivity to what can damage our passion for each other is an early alarm system that I trust. She loves that I do the steps to build a fire.

**************************************************************************

What passion do you want to rekindle? I encourage you to write out the actions you will take and get started.

The Secret to Getting Your Honey on the Trail

IMG_3154
My Honey’s Journal illustrates a great method for brainstorming questions. Hear from her at cowriterpro.com

The Secret Lies with Writing

Almost all of us have had to write a term paper or research paper in school. Many of us went on to a write a thesis. You probably write in some way at work—from email correspondence to grant proposals. From Lean Six Sigma projects to financial reports. From a bill of lading to an inventory count. We have all done some writing.

So with this background you are already prepared with a plan to get your honey on the trail. You just have to write it down. You thought it was a secret hidden from you? The secret is in your own experience revealed. The plan to get your Honey on the trail is a writing plan. My Honey explores many uses for writing at cowriterpro.com.

Let’s say that you have a research paper to write for your high school physical education class. It is the only pen and paper requirement to an otherwise active outdoor class. It is 50% of your grade and you want to do well.

You start asking questions:

Who am I writing to? just the teacher or the class?
What is the topic I have to write about?
Do I get to pick or is it assigned?
When is the document due? a week? at the end of the year?
What result do I want from my reader? a good grade?
Why is this important to my reader?
How much money can I spend to get this written?
What research do I need to do to write it well?
Who can I interview who has the knowledge I don’t have?
Who has written this document before?
What medium is the writing to be done in?
How will I know if I reached my reader?
Where will I do my best writing?
Under what conditions will I do my best writing?

Ask the right questions: You see how the questions just flow? You could probably ask even more if you were really about to write the paper. And you are really about to get your Honey on the trail with you! The secret is asking lots of honest questions with her in mind and they will be the right questions. Write them down—take 10 minutes and just let them flow. Be easy on your self and just write all that come to mind.

Answer them honestly from the hip at first: Put down the answer no matter how absurd it might seem to you at the time. I had no idea how I was going to tie together all the criteria my Honey had for what she thought might be the ideal trip. I had a little bit of incredulity going in my chest at first as I pondered my answers from her perspective. She hadn’t been backpacking like I was doing it and it had been 20 years since her trip through Europe with all she owned in a back pack.

Do your homework: Go find out all you can first before asking her. If you are like me, you could just go on and on and ruin a good thing (my Honey’s eyes would have glazed over at first). Listen to what she talks about and glean all you can from conversation.

D30_8899
My Princess Editor—lover of fine things…and Hiking with her Honey!

Ask her: Go to the source and verify—ask. You can’t really assume you know. I was talking to a couple a few weeks ago and in her presence he said to me, “She’d never go hiking” and she looked at him with a sudden turn of her head and said with a surprising amount of energy, “You never asked me to.” I have discovered that most Honeys will go have fun with their man outdoors if he has a plan and has done his best to consider her perceived desires and perceived limitations.

Believe her: It was so tempting for me to say to her, “It doesn’t work that way” or “that’s just how it is” or “I’m the expert, just follow along.” So many things were second nature to me and experience taught me that for me there is only one way to do many things.  Did you see that “for me” back there in that last sentence?  You are wanting a “you and her” thing and if you will make the vast majority of it a “her” thing at least to start with, you will be well along the way of making it a permanent “us” thing.

IMG_1736
Transforming into hiking—our favorite thing

Write the rough draft: The first “well planned” trip drew in my Honey with cords of love because she say how hard I tried to make it fun for her. She honored my effort much like going with me on any other date that I had really put some thought into. Realize that it is a rough draft. Don’t make any judgement calls during the first outing. Roll with it with the most flexibility that you can and save the learning for later. This is about trying what might possibly be an extraordinary and difficult thing for her.  Laugh at yourself when most of it falls flat.

Rewrite and produce a better second draft: Keep what worked and decide if any of what didn’t work is worth keeping. As you produce a second trip, try to implement her ideas. I demonstrated to my Honey as often as possible that I heard her. I heard her—I was listening. No pretend “uh huh” sounds—real listening. Part of what drew my current avid hiker in from the beginning was seeing me order some little thing that would fix a problem she had. Present your sequel and reveal the loving improvements to the plan.

Fine tune parts of your document at a time: Don’t try to produce a masterpiece the first time or two or twelve. Work on bits and pieces. We did a romantic fireside meal to introduce her to rehydrated food eaten crosslegged on the tent floor. I packed lots of amenities in the truck that wouldn’t be on a backpacking trip. I focused on making everything else pleasant when I set up the romantic nest by the fireplace in an outdoor picnic pavilion. This way the one new truly backpacking component would be introduced in a likable way.

IMG_3105
Cozy and comfortable—ready to eat a rehydrated meal. Learning one component at a time.
IMG_3122
Jetboil—boils 2 cups of water in two minutes. My favorite stove.

 

Let it go: Most writing has to just be considered done at some predetermined point. You can always keep rewriting and tweeting. You can succumb to the ideal you have in your head and never have a good time unless it is like you pictured it or like it was on your best trip ever out with the guys.  You thought that everything just gets better “When you put a girl in it.” That is true but let go of the preconceived ideal because you are creating a new and you don’t know what that is yet. The ideal you will create together will be so much more beautiful and rewarding that what you could see at first.

On the cabin porch just before heading back to Nashville
Combining indoors and outdoors

Our journey has produced some of the greatest memories of my life. We have laughed, loved and lived to an extreme I didn’t know was possible. We have combined outdoor and indoor facets of grand adventures in ways I hadn’t dreamed up. We have enjoyed simple, slow and short events as well as longer trips with epic qualities. We are headed toward trips in the future that we will both declare to be epic life adventure list trips.

**************************************************************************

Make your list this week. It is an easy step that will set your mind planning and unlock the secret. When will you start your “writing assignment” so you can “publish” meaningful hikes with your Honey?