February 2.0

February is already a short month and this one truly felt short. Between the weather and work I have been kept away from doing the outside things I need to get done. The few good days of weather I did accomplish some good stuffs – trees cut down and cut up. We still need to get them hauled over to the neighbors. It has rained for like the last 2 weeks. Rivers are jumping their banks; my drive way is washing out – which adds a new project for this spring/summer – get rock/gravel/fly ash for the driveway. When it wasn’t raining it was ass biting cold…I guess I should expect that for February.

I turned 42 this month. That’s a huge accomplishment since there were times when I didn’t think I would make it this far. Tomorrow I hit the 2-year mark on the job. That’s not that big of a deal for me (I worked like 14 years at a previous job), but it is a little different here – I am 4th in plant hourly seniority. There are only 3 others who have been here longer, as hourlies. There were some the management that were here for a year before they hired any hourlies. What this really means is vacation resets! Already got one weekend planned for vacay – Nephew graduates this May.

Ok, for so goal updates. These were my stated goals for February:

  1. Create/Develop a personal mission statement
  2. Read (at least) 30 minutes every day
  3. Write in my (private) Journal everyday
  4. Finalize the garden plans
  5. 8 blog posts

Here is how I did:

  1. I did not finish my personal mission statement. This is more involved than I first thought. I have a working draft, but it is not finalized. I will be working on this until it is done.
  2. I read at least 30 minutes 20/28 days.
    1. I finished started and finish one book – “The View” by Terry Unger.
    2. I continued reading the 7Habits book
    3. I started “Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager” by Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood
    4. I read a few different professional journal types that concerned my job – mostly updates on interpretation on regulations
  3. I did write some entries in my personal journal 18/28 days – though not all were substantive the goal and purpose was to form a habit and I am getting better at that.
  4. We have finalized the garden plans, but no actions have been taken at this point other than planning
  5. I made 4 (including this one) blog posts with a goal of 8. I’m good with this. I still wrote things this month
    1. I researched and wrote an essay on Thor for consideration to become a content writer for The Asatru Community website. This would be awesome to be selected as one of the content for this organization. I will post the essay as a blog post whether or not I am selected, but it will wait until I know for sure.
    2. I wrote some tech stuff for work that involved some research and time. Thinking about starting a second blog that would be centered on work stuff..

February was a short month, but I still got much accomplished. Not necessarily what was planned but needed none the less. I will post up a March outlook post in the next couple of days.

Verðandi

The cycle of life is something that has perplexed man for as long as man has existed. The concept, the mythology, of the Ancestors discusses a complex idea of how this works. They used an analogy of the great ash tree, Yggdrasil – the tree that connects the nine worlds. Yggdrasil is rooted in the Well of Wyrd (Urd or Destiny) and acts as a conduit to all life in all the nine worlds. Connecting everything back to the Well which describes the fate of all living beings. The three Norns – Urd, Verðandi, and Skuld – write, also seen as weaving, the fate of all living beings. The three sisters are often associated with a linear time line – Past, Present, Future – but the Ancestors seen this as a much more complex concept. Time is cyclical not linear. The present, Verðandi, can influence the past and absolutely influences the future.

Norns 2

Urd is the oldest of the three sisters, and the most powerful and most worked with. She is the controller of history. That which once was, or what has already become. We work with her when we read a history book, when we explore our family tree, whenever we look to the past. Urd was once the sole Norn who controlled all three aspects of time/life. Therefore, she can influence, have dominance over, her sisters. That which once was, that which has become, is a powerful influence over that which is (now). Indeed, we build the foundation of our life on the past, on that which was that made us who we are now.

Skuld is the youngest of the sisters. She is what should be, what shall be – necessity and obligation. She is also the Norn who marks and cuts the transitions in our lives. The births and deaths (including our own birth and death). She is seen as the youngest because she has yet to happen, yet the foundation is already set. She exists because there is a “what once was”; because there is a past and because there is a that which is now. There are always consequences for our actions, for our choices, Skuld is the controller of those consequences.

Verðandi, that which is now – the present, is the Norn which I try to do the most work with. Understanding the here and now is important in my life. It is the present in which I have the most influence, where my influence has the largest effect. What I do today, while influenced by that which was, is how I direct my future. I know how to influence my future. The Ancestors believed that Verðandi has influence over Urd. I don’t fully understand this, and I have little desire to work with the magics, which is how I understand that the present can affect the past. I, instead, choose to learn the past so that I can understand how to work with Verðandi to create a path to the future I desire.

I do not believe that we have absolute freedom in our choices, but I also do not believe that the future is stationary. Ørlög is the name given to the concept which describes fate of a person. Ørlög is the combination of luck and fate and is cumulative through our ancestry. Yes, this means that what our father and his father…and so on…did influences the choices that we have now. This is not to blame our parents, our ancestors, for our problems today. We still have the responsibility to make the best choices and to grow and make the best life we can. What this means is that choices our ancestors made influences the choices available to us. For example: If the parents move the family to a new town, state or country, the child has no choice but to move with the parents. No real choice anyway. Once relocated the choices of that child is affected – restricted – by their environment. As simple as the friends they can hang out with – they no longer can spend as much time with their friends “back home”. They can now choose to make new friends, or have no friends, or try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their friends. Their choices have been limited, reduced. This is an extremely simple example of ørlög, but the concept of ørlög is not the focus of this post so I am not going into full detail, only to set the stage so to speak. There are some places where this concept is better developed. If you would like to read more try here or here.

The point is this: we start life with a specific number of choices. A finite number, choices that are set by Skuld based on Wyrd. As we grow and begin making choices – even before making our own choices our parents make choices for us – every choice we make sets us on a path to a specific end. That end is not absolute, it is one possibility of many. Each choice we make, or allow to be made for us, reduces the choices available. We can never return to the exact place we were when we make a choice. We can only learn from bad choices, own the choice and reset ourselves. Making a different choice, even if the same choice we could have made is presented to us it is not the same as it once was. It cannot be because we made that choice already. By influencing the present, working with Verdandi, we can direct that path. So, I choose to work with the Norn of the here and now.

This choice has lead me to the life I try to convey in my postings here. Has led me to study the 7 Habits which led me to examine the correlation to the 9 Noble Virtues. This leads me to developing a principle centered life, centered on the 9NV. Working with Verdandi, working within the area of my influence, I can create the future I want to create. This will influence my ørlög and will affect the ørlög of my children and future generations. It is my duty, my obligation, to do this.

Principle Centered Life

A paradigm is like a map. It is the interpretation of a place, it is not the place. Our paradigms are how we see things, our perspective on any given situation is a result of the paradigm we used to see the situation. Stephen Covey said, “We must examine the lens through which we see the world as well as at the world we see, the lens [through which we look] is how we interpret the world we see.” This means, to me, that it is more important to understand why we see what see than to understand what we see. The lens is the paradigm. To change our world, we must first change how see it.

Continuing the map analogy, if we have the wrong map we will never get where we want to be. Covey used the example of standing in Chicago with a map of New York City. The map of NYC may be accurate, but it has no relevance to Chicago so will not help us find anything in Chicago. So first, we must determine how we see the situation to determine if we have the correct map. The more aware we are of our paradigms the better equipped we are to take responsibility for our lives. In other words, we must know what experiences we have allowed to shape our lens so that we can compare that to universal principles.

Natural laws govern human effectiveness, they are absolute, fundamental and unchanging. Covey describes it this way: “It is impossible to break the [natural] laws; we can only break ourselves against the law.” This tells me that if I am trying to live outside of the natural laws my life will be broken, unproductive, and/or frustratingly unsuccessful. Our paradigms are a subjective reality that we use to describe objective reality – principles are the objective reality.

Principles are not practices or values. Practices are situationally specific. Paradigms are not values; values can and do change with experience. Principles are hard wired, universally true. Unchanging, fundamental truth. Going back to the map analogy, principles are the territory that the map is describing.

The Nine Noble Virtues are a set of principles to compare our paradigms against. While the 9NV are not an exhaustive list of all the principles I believe that any principle will fit into one of the 9NV. If I come across a principle not already covered by the 9NV I will add this principle. If I find that a principle fits more than one virtue, then that principle should replace both virtues.

If we align our paradigms with the 9NV our map will be accurate (we will at least be in the city that matches our map). Let’s examine the 9NV as they relate to the study of the 7 Habits:

  1. Truth (Wisdom)

You don’t know what you don’t know.

This virtue is our yard stick when we examine the lens through which we see the world. This virtue governs the seeking of truth in the myriad of information presented to us from all directions in the information age we find now find ourselves. When we have access to the breadth of the world’s knowledge in the palm of our hands yet have very little facts being shared. When everyone is telling us their opinion of the facts without giving the facts. We must know where the truth is and how to discern it. This applies to all information and should not be limited to the mundane but applied to the spiritual as well.

  1. Courage

Do it anyway.

This virtue is our strength to act on the truth and not succumb to the trending ignorance (willful ignorance in many cases) that is prevalent in our society. The strength to do the right thing even when the consequences of doing the right thing are not beneficial. Yes, courage also is the act of doing the right the thing even when we fear the consequences. It is not the absence of fear, it is the action despite fear.

  1. Fidelity (Loyalty)

Stay the course.

This virtue has many interpretations. In comparing it to the 7 habits, I see this virtue as being loyal to the principled center. Staying the course and always examining, measuring, the results back to the principles, the 9NV. Also, this virtue helps us to determine priorities. To assign the hierarchy of importance and to remain in align with those priorities.

  1. Hospitality (Generosity)

Its not only about you.

This virtue tells us not to be self-centered. When we live a principle centered life we are more connected to the whole. That connection to the whole lets us know that we are not an island but a part of a greater continent.

  1. Discipline (Self-control)

No excuses.

Discipline is needed to stay in the principled centered life. We should strive to live a life that would not require us to ask forgiveness of anyone. Being disciplined to always do the right thing every time. Of course, we are human, and we are not perfect, but we should work towards that perfection anyway.

  1. Industriousness (Work/Perseverance)

Never quit.

We are not owed anything that we have not earned. If we do not put in the work; if we do not pay the price, we will never develop the mastery required of any of this. If we aren’t doing things, making mistakes, we will never learn anything. Nelson Mandela said “I never lose. I win, or I learn.”

  1. Self-reliance (Strength)

If it is to be it is up to me.

We make our choices, whether we are aware or not we have a choice in everything in our live. No, we don’t have any choice in what happens TO us. We do have the choice in how we respond to that stimuli. We can choose to be proactive in those choices or we can be victims – either way we choose. No one has any control of how we think, how we respond, to anything. We must make conscious decisions.

  1. Frith and Grith

Don’t worry, be happy.

The attitude with which we face life determines the results we get from life. You reap what you sow. Being miserable, always seeing the negative, will bring negativity into your life. Bad things will still happen, sad times will still exist, but a positive attitude will help to get us through those times and to see the good in all things. If we believe that everything happens for a reason and understand that we are not always meant to understand that reason life is easier to deal with.

  1. Honor

Actions out weight words.

“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you are saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Your character is not what you tell people you are but what you show them through your actions. Honor is acting with integrity in living a principle centered life. It is not an act, it is not something that we can pretend to have for very long. We don’t get to decide if we are honorable or not. Those around us determines this. Honor is the command of respect – not the demand of respect don’t read that wrong. When we do the right things for the right reasons and respect those deserving of respect, we are we are living with honor.

A common misunderstanding is that principles, any or all of them, are subjective. They are not. The value of the principle may vary, but we do not define principles. They define us. Align your paradigms to the correct principles.

January

I never lose. I either win or learn. [I always win.] – Nelson Mandela

 

One of the purposes I described for doing this blog is to create some accountability for myself and to help me focus on keeping my goals in front of me. As January is coming to an end I think it is time for a “month in review” post to update on my progress and failures.

In my planner I put a tracker in place to keep track of the stuff I want to track. Does that make it a tracker instead of a planner? This allows me to see how I did for the month. No guessing and no lying. This month was better than last month – that is the overall goal. It is not what I wanted, not what I set out to accomplish.

This month I set a goal to read three books. I read one cover to cover, one is intentionally a month-long process – one habit a month, one I started and didn’t finish yet, one I wasn’t worth the time I was spending on it. I have read 12 days – the goal was no less than 15 every day. I can rationalize (rational lies) that I do read every day, have spent hours reading standards and procedures at work this month. That isn’t what I meant, and I know that. So, opportunity to better next month.

I journaled 7 days of the 27 so far. Again, the rational lie is that I also blogged 6 times. The goal was every day and I didn’t meet that goal. Opportunity to do better in February.

I did the exercises 10 days so far. The goal, again, was every day. Now, this is 10 times better than December and I improved from 10 pushes barely pushed to 20. I had accomplishments this month in this; I failed to meet my goal.

I started my blog – obviously – which was one of the goals. I began making some leather crafts, playing with the leather to begin practicing. This is good. Overall, I feel that I improved my proactivity. I have been more proactive than last month.

 

I am trying to do my best, I don’t know what my best is.

I am striving to be better

Better tomorrow than I was today

Better today than I was yesterday

Better this month than last month

Better next month than this month

Better this year than last year

I will never be the best I can be because I can always be better than I was.

 

I will finish January strong and hit 5/5 for the last days. I will update this at the end of January – in the spirit of accountability.