Goooooooals! Thinking About the Process…

Yesterday, I was reading a post on the ESPN Major League baseball site about what goals the writer thought each team should have going into this season. Goals. That prompted me to start thinking about my own goals, and how to apply those to what I work on daily. And I started segmenting my life into various areas. My Professional life. My Spiritual life. My Educational direction. My physical workout direction. As I did this, the goals all started to pile up, and I realized I didn’t have enough time in the day to reach everything I wanted to get to. That felt paralyzing. However, I didn’t want things to stop there. So, I took the evening to think a bit more on all of it.

Segmenting Life

Early in all the thinking, I realized that segmenting my life might not be the best thing in the world. I have heard it referred to as compartmentalizing, where one takes certain things and separates them from others. Lately, I have begun to realize that doing this is not workable for me. While I work in data and statistics, I cannot separate that from my Druidry. My Druidry provides me insight into my analysis and finding trends in the data I work on. How everything fits together and operates together is part of how I view the entire world around me. To divorce my Druidry from my Professional life would require me to not utilize my approach to everything around me. I just cannot do that. The same holds true for my approach to my own education or my approach to being more physically fit. All of which fits together to make a more complete picture. Separating each of these into individual component parts to be approached and worked on individually would, in essence, be ignoring everything I understand about myself.

Setting My Goals

I used to keep these elaborate lists of everything that needed to be accomplished. I would even graph out specified time frames in my calendar to bracket time for completing things. A few months back, I realized that this approach was just not really working for me. I do keep lists, particularly when I am packing for a trip, but I found that this process was not really working for handling my goals. So, I turned towards a different approach. I started to set smaller, more realistic goals that I could work towards without building these elaborate lists.

As an example, my Ovate grade work has many aspects to it. There is a lot of things that need to be accomplished, a lot of approaches to be thought through. I used to mark on a calendar a time frame that I would work on each Gwers. Each time I set up this goal-oriented structure, it failed. I would find myself off-track after a short period of time. So, I altered the approach to not be so list or task structured. I work with each Gwers as I can. Sometimes, one lesson is worked through and absorbed quickly. Sometimes its not. However, I have no worries or anxiety because I no longer place time limits on my time with each one. This stuff is not a race. Now, with work related things, it’s a little different. I am not the one setting the deadlines. But I do try to approach my work in a similar vein. I do my best not to hurry.

Working (and Rocking) My Goals

I do have long-term goals. I have a desire to finish my Ovate grade and move on to the Druid grade. Its not a given that it will happen, but it is my goal and desire to do so. I am seeing a need for more education in my Professional life. I am already looking into prospects for another master’s degree, which will assist me in improving my ability to do my work. There is always a chance to better yourself. I am headed in that direction. My physical self during this time of COVID has been diminished, thanks to being held inside (mostly). I am looking at ways to improve my physical strength, as well as my diminished health. No heavy goals here, except to get healthier. I am not looking to make a certain weight or be able to ride a stationary bike at a certain speed for a certain distance. Just a desire to get healthier.

One thing I have learned is that when you set unreachable goals for yourself, your failure to reach those unattainable heights can influence your mental health. Sometimes, its far better to walk away from those unattainable goals than to continue to reach for what is constantly just out of your grasp. Believe me, that is a hard lesson to learn. Plus, it is a real head-slam when you finally understand it. The difficult part is to not beat yourself up over it. Yes, you failed. But you can always alter your approach and try again. But there are also goals that will never be attainable. Those, you need to realize for yourself, and walk away without trying again. Those are the hardest moments that you can have.

Now, I will end this with stuff that I usually say. This is a process and a set of thinking that works for me. This is not going to work for everyone. Everyone is their own individual. Everyone will have their own way of motivating themselves towards their goals. Everyone will have their own way of analyzing things. I am not writing this as an ultimate manifesto of how to do things. I write this as a potential kick-starter for others to examine their own personal processes. I am not the ultimate authority of anything, except where it pertains to myself. I do suggest that if you find yourself getting paralyzed over trying to move forward with your own personal goals…start small. Those small successes will help. For me, it provided a way of seeing that I could accomplish things. That I was able to do it. Just a thought. Your mileage will vary.

–T /|\

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Moving Forward, Eyes to the Present and Future

Life changes everyday. Each day brings a new challenge, a new experience, a new lesson or maybe a few. Every single day opens a door a little further. But it also closes another door a little more as well. That door being the Past. The past, where our common experiences come from, is an important factor in our lives. Our Past is an important part of our daily journey. However, there comes a point where the Past has to be let go so room can be made for the new experiences to come. For me, this is not an easy process. Much of my Past is quite important to who I am. However, I tend to hang on to my Past for too long and parts of my continued growth and learning do not happen because of it. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but assuredly, a necessary one.

In six days (I am writing this on a Saturday), my life is going to take on a radical change. I’ll still be me. But the manner in which I approach every day Life is about to undergo a change that may be one of the most painful in my entire Life. At the same time, its not really painful – it’s necessary. Letting go of pieces of my Past will be a bit difficult. But embracing my Present, as well as my Future will be helpful in undertaking this. I know, you’re reading this and wondering what the fuck I’m talking about. So, let’s take a moment and I’ll show you what I am doing.

I served eight years in the United States Air Force. Parts of that time are ingrained within my DNA. I cannot remove every aspect of what the Air Force did for me in those eight years. Nor can I erase the experiences that I have had. All of those are a permanent part of my life. But I have tendency to lean back to how things were when I was in the military. How we did things then. And make comparisons to how we do things now. I left the military in 1994. That was….quite a while ago. It’s time to place those memories where they belong, in my Past. And time to embrace where I am now. What I am trying to do now. How things are done now. Constantly leaning back into those memories does not let me react and respond to the things of today in a manner that is appropriate. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I am out to forget those memories. I’m not out to destroy those experiences. All of that has made me who I am today. But I have more life to live. Life that is happening today, not yesterday. I need to open myself to that.

Let me place this in a little different perspective. I am in the Ovate grade with OBOD. My Bardic grade lessons and experiences built a foundation for me to get to this point. But to continue building on to that already established foundation, I have to realize that the Ovate grade is something different – something that expands beyond the Bardic grade. That opens me to more experiences, allows me to approach lessons with a fresh mind. I am looking forward instead of backward.

There is a scene in the movie Labyrinth, where Sarah is putting away all the toys and such that helped her go on her experience in battling the Goblin King for her baby brother. Its a moment where Sarah is realizing she needs to set the Past aside so she can embrace the Present and open the way to the Future. But in setting the Past aside, she is not discarding it. She can come back to it anytime that she wants, as all the characters from her adventure remind her. The Past is never truly gone. It still resides in your DNA from your experiences, your adventures and your memories.

To steal from another story moment:

It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Every single morning is the start of a new adventure. Every single morning brings the start of a new moment of the Present. The real battle is not in taking that first step. The real battle is placing your resolve into not just taking the first step, but each step after. To do so, you can’t be focused on the Life that you have already lived. You have to be focused on the Life you are living and the Life you wish to live. The Present and the Future are waiting for you, every single morning. Are you focused on where your feet are being planted? Are you looking into the near distance to try and find your way to where you want to be? That’s where my focus is. And I promise you, its worth the change in focus. Its scary as all fuck. but the beauty that lies ahead in its promise is worth every moment of the fight and the struggle.

–T /|\


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I am TommyElf

It took them a while, but my Crow buddies have figured out that I now show up at work coming from a different direction. This morning, I was finally fed up enough with work to walk out to “get some air”. I wasn’t gone long – maybe ten minutes at most. All I did was walk down to the pond near the tennis courts, and sit at the dirty, little gazebo that overlooks the waters there — and the flotilla of ducks we have there. For the past week or so, I have felt a bit “out of sorts” – if you will pardon the expression. Much like Crow buddies, it took some time for me to realize my new pattern.

While I was standing out there, with a yellow pad of lined paper in one hand, and a pen in the other – it took me three minutes to write this short poem.

Stepping out the front door
Into the morning dew
Clouds in the sky
Heralding a return of rain
Rain, heralding a moment
Where focus comes back
To where it should have been

Eye on the future
Ear to the ground
Listening to the whispers
Of Gods, Ancestors and Spirits
Pulling me back to center
Away from the Edges
To where I am meant to be

Moving up here was supposed to put me closer to work – to cut down on a drive that was nearly an hour in one direction. To give me time to do the things I have been wanting to do for over a year now. Focus on my Pagan studies, write in my journals, write in my notes…relax. And I have done none of those things.

Walking on Wild Horse Island in MontanaI have done none of these things, because I am once again falling into an old pattern. One I was in since 1986 – and was given the chance to break out of when I was unemployed. Putting my job before everything. Allowing that to be the definitive description of who I am. No offense to my employer, but I am not an Assessment Analyst. I am not a “stats guy”. I am not a “data whisperer” for a motley assortment of database systems. That’s what I do to earn money to pay for the things that I have.

I am a Pagan. I believe in the Gods and Goddesses. I communicate with them from time to time. Some more often than others. But they are real. They do exist. For those wishing to argue about a singular Entity that they believe is the only one. More power to you, but I am not here to argue. I am here to handle what they set in front of me. Arguing with others over Their existence, or trying to convince other people that They do exist — not part of the equation for me. I am not called by a particular tradition or pantheon. I am not worried or bothered with the idea of cultural appropriation. For me, the Gods call to who They call to.

I am a Druid. Specifically, I am a Druid working through my Bardic Grade in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Everything in my life revolves around a set of connections between myself and the Earth, Through the elements. Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. Yes, I consider Spirit to be an element. And yes, I consider each element to be the basis of how I connect to Nature and all aspects of it. Yes, I believe in the Web of Life. Yes, I believe in the Circle of Life. Yes, I believe in how every connection – no matter how small or large has meaning.

I have my Circle of very close friends. I have blood relatives. I have friends that I have a very loose connection with. Be they Christian, Pagan, Buddhist, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, or what not – each has earned my respect for who they are. I love them no less for whatever Path they follow through Life. Each, in their own way, connect with me on some level – and through that connection comes my respect, admiration and love. I have their back when I can. They are my tribe. They are my people.

I read. I listen. I watch. I love. I learn. I am. Some may have a problem with me over these beliefs that I hold. I truly don’t care. That is their own Path to walk, their own manner of understanding the world around them – to the degree that they can or are willing to do so. Try to impede me or my tribe on our individual and/or collective Paths, you will be in for a fight you have never seen before. Try to take an individual’s freedoms from them, and you had better be prepared to fight them to the end of their days (or yours) in this life, and the next.

I am Pagan. I am a Druid. I believe in many Gods and Goddesses. I seek my own inner peace through connectivity with everything around me. Everything has a distinct life and awareness – some at levels we are not capable of comprehending for whatever reason. I have a Tribe that is my family – not necessarily of blood and DNA, but family nonetheless. If any of that makes you think less of me, it may be best for you to simply move along. I wish you no harm. I have no quarrel, argument, debate or fight with you. But I will protect and fight for who I am. I owe that much self-respect to my Tribe, to my Ancestors that have come before me, and to myself.

Pagan, Druid, polytheist, animist, tribe member. That’s who I am. That’s where my definition comes from. I am who I am. I am defined by who I am – not by what I do. I am TommyElf.