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Kindling, Carrot Sticks and Kidschool...

by Rachel DeMille

For almost fifteen years now my family has used a wood burning stove to help heat our house. It's been quite the science experiment for my kids. Different types of wood, different materials, shapes and sizes and arrangements of kindling, different adjustments of the damper, even wind conditions outside--all these affect their success in working the wood stove. They have learned through trial and error--and the frustration or approval of their family members--what makes a good fire.

Every once in a while the conditions have been such that the fire was almost too good; it burned so hot that the iron actually glowed a little bit, and the stove was literally swollen from the heat expansion. You couldn't stand more than ten feet from it without being uncomfortably warm. But as intense as that fire was, the memory of it won't heat my home right now. The stove only burns as warm as the fire we build today.

I had an epiphany yesterday about woodstoves and warmth--if a little bit more metaphysical than the reading on the thermostat. I was pondering about the struggle I've had of late getting off my personal conveyor belt. Not with TJEd, you'll be glad to know; but I've been in a personal rut and have wondered in vain for several weeks how to break free from my habits.

You see, I have been blessed with some very limiting health challenges in recent years, and I have struggled to learn how to overcome the obstacles and facilitate healing. Because of the particular impact on my ability to assimilate nutrition, doctors have strongly recommended that I observe a regimen of 80% raw fruits and vegetables, which are high in enzymes.

Okay, I like fruits and vegetables. I mean, I really do--more than most people I know. But I can witness that there is a limit to the sliced apples and carrot sticks one can eat with joy. To compound the challenge: I am what many people might call a "foodie."

I LOVE gourmet cuisine, and I love to cook. I love to prepare food without recipes by relying on my senses. For example: I sense temperature and time even at a distance from the kitchen just by the smell of what I'm preparing. I'm not bragging--I just can. And I have enjoyed this as a lifelong hobby. So now I'm supposed to prepare mostly  raw foods? Where's the fun in that? What's my freakish sense of smell supposed to do?

It turns out that there is quite a lot of fun to be had preparing raw food (and just stick with me--I'm not trying to evangelize my nutritional choices. I actually have a point here that relates to TJEd). Some very artistic "foodies" have written books on raw food preparation that I would consider "classics." For several months I had a couple of raw "cookbooks" beside my bed and I would consult them for maybe 5 to 20 minutes before retiring. I would turn down pages, make grocery lists, find interesting recipes to try the next day. I was actually having fun with it!

Then somehow a couple of months ago all my "cookbooks" ended up back in my kitchen on the rack. And (as in retrospect I realize), my excitement for and commitment to my nutritional plan began to wane. Not noticeably, at first. But after a couple of weeks I found myself going to bed each night with plans and promises to "do better tomorrow"--even with thoughts of what I would prepare, etc., just like before (or so I thought)-- and only to find myself at the end of another day wondering how I could have failed again.

My 40+ years of habit kicked in, and in the moment of choice I just couldn't remember why it mattered to do anything different than what I had always done.

Yesterday, after another day of going with the flow rather than choosing the better path for what my body's needing right now, I asked myself how I could still believe that the doctor's prescription for my health is right, and at the same time continue to ignore his advice.

Then I remembered what I had been doing differently: during the several months of my success, I was getting daily "inspiration" that motivated me and kept me focused on what I really want and need. (Hopefully you're starting to see where I'm going with this, and how it might apply to you.)

I remembered the wood stove.

It does matter that I can remember how to build a fire, and that I can remember how hot it burns when I do this or that. Those experiences gave me a sure knowledge that the principles of fire-building actually work. But for as much as I know that the principles are true...

...the house is only as warm as the fire I build today.

For me to have that fire within, I have to fuel it daily. And I have learned for myself that neither memories of success nor good plans and intentions are adequate fuel. I have to recur to the classics and be daily reading from the works of those who are successful at doing what I want to really fuel that fire.

As I pondered on this lesson for me, I wondered if it might not apply to you, too. So let me share what I have learned:

  • if you are finding a disconnect between what you believe about Leadership Education and what you are doing about Leadership Education
  • if you are finding that your plans and intentions never seem to make a difference at the end of the day
  • if you are finding that in the moment of choice your habits are overruling your aspirations
  • if you are feeling like you are in a rut, you're frustrated with your lack of progress, or you're not feeling the fire, passion or confidence that you once felt...

...Try adding fuel to the fire.

Whether it's reading nightly from a TJEd book or listening daily to one of the TJEd audios, I really think that you will find, as I have, that a daily dose from original sources (not just thinking about it, but actually engaging with the TJEd classics) will help you out of your rut immediately.

You don't have to do everything at once to make meaningful progress. You just need to do "the next right thing." By daily fueling the fire, you will have clarity on what that is; as you follow through on the next step, the one after that will be made clear as well.

Secure, not Stressed comes from daily fueling the fire and doing the next right thing. It's true!

"Cookbooks" now at my bedside,

xoxox rd