Clear a Path
By Jim Kuiken
What do a new year and a snow storm have in common? They both tend to give people the urge to start anew, to set resolutions, i.e. to clear a path to new goals (or maybe just out to the road…).
Whether resolutions are to renew old efforts, to achieve new goals, or completely revamp your life, relationships, financial or business situation, or whatever – the biggest reason for failure is to make those goals too ambitious.
How big was the snow storm? How much do you have to clear? Do you want to clear everything away, or just a path to the road you want to travel? If it was just a light dusting, you might be able to sweep away the accumulation with a broom. However, if it was like the one we just had here in Northern Virginia…almost 30 inches of heavy snow (Winter Storm Jonas), that’s a whole ‘nuther ball game.
I’m not talking about the process of making a plan to achieve goals here. If you want a good “to-go-by” plan for setting and achieving any goal(s) you want to achieve in life, this new year, or just for a single event or project, check out my previous blog posts “Take Aim on Success with a Sniper’s Techniques – Part I” and “Take Aim on Success with a Sniper’s Techniques – Part II”.
All we’re talking about in this post is setting an achievable goal. There are a couple of things we need to consider in setting an achievable goal.
First, what do you want to achieve? Do you want to clear a path to the road (focused goals for specific achievements), or do you want to clear all the snow away (reset your life, your relationship(s), your financial or business situation, etc.)?
Secondly, what is the current situation? Did you have a light dusting of powdery snow, or a massive storm that dumped feet of heavy snow…or something in between?
After you determine these two factors, you can start setting the achievable goal(s). If you just have a light snow and just want a path, that shouldn’t take too long, so you can set higher or more difficult goals, because the effort to get there is much less. In the same situation, if you want to clear all the snow, then it will take a little longer, but you can still get there with a little more time, still using light tools (broom or snow shovel).
However, if there is a heavy covering, or lots of obstacles, a serious amount of debt, a relationship that is on its last legs, or you’re stuck in a dead-end job (or unemployed) with very little training or education, emotional or physical trauma to overcome, etc…then it will take a lot longer to dig your way out, and much longer to clear the entire area of snow. You may even need much heavier tools, like a snow blower, serious (physical or emotional) therapy or counseling, more education or training, lots of friends or family to help, etc.
Whatever your situation is, take a good, hard look at it, determine if it is a quick, easy goal that you can shoot for, or if it is a long, hard struggle you’re facing to dig a path out, or entirely clear the area. Don’t try to shovel too much too fast, because lots of people have heart attacks each year trying to do exactly that. Pace yourself, dig at a pace you can handle using the tools you have available, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The other side of the coin is that once you’ve determined the goal you want to achieve, stretch yourself…look at what you think you can do, and aim just a degree or two higher, and while clearing the snow, work up to your capacity…push it just enough to make yourself sweat and breathe a little harder, without crossing over into unrealistic efforts that cause you to quit, or make your situation or health worse. If you’re sweating and end up a little sore the next day, that’s great! But if you push so hard that you go inside to collapse in your chair, you are less likely to come back out and keep up the effort.
And DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN while you’re out there! Stop and throw a snowball, make a snow angel, let your dog out to act stupid jumping around and chasing squirrels. Enjoy the day outside and the kids sledding in the park next door…
Before you know it, the path will be clear!
Start Forward by Looking Back
By Jim Kuiken
Welcome to a new year! I hope this year is a happy and successful (in whatever endeavor you like) year!
As we move forward into this new year, I’d like to stop, look back, remember some of the best folks and moments highlighted last year, in this 2015 Roll of Honor. Scroll through quickly and pick the ones you like…or take your time and look through them all. Here they are
Veterans 360 – helping post 911 veterans with Post Traumatic Stress (PTSd) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)…and who pushed me to get help for mine. 1/1/15
K9s For Warriors – who accepted me into their program and found my perfect partner, Freedom, who changed my life. 1/6/15
Army Nurse Beatrice Mary MacDonald – 1st woman awarded the Purple Heart on August 17, 1917… also the the Distinguished Service Cross...second only to the Medal of Honor... 1/11/15
Marine Corps Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly who is one of only a handful that have earned the Medal of Honor…Twice (each one for a separate war/conflict). 1/31/15
Ron Capps and the Veterans Writing Project – giving veterans education and a safe place to write and use their voice about their experiences, and help them publish. 2/18/15
Private France Silva – the first Latino Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, in June of 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion. 2/18/15
People Magazine (online – peoplepets.com) for publishing an article about the benefits of a Service Dog in saving the lives of veterans suffering with PTSd/TBI. 4/15/15
Men and Women who have stepped forward and Made a Difference – What It Takes, serving others, serving society, and serving our country. 4/21/15
Those who refuse to be a Victim – of circumstance, of PTSd and TBI, of society’s expectations and limitations. Standing up for themselves and dignity. 4/28/15
The First Amendment – Constitutional Rights or Wrongs… What is its meaning, and how is it used and abused. 5/10/15
Military Times – for publishing an article on how Service Dogs are saving the lives of veterans who suffer with PTS by combatting veteran suicide. 5/13/15
World War I 'Harlem Hellfighter' Army Sergeant Henry Johnson, awarded the French Croix de Guerre avec Palme for bravery in 1918, and (finally) posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996, the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002, and the Medal of Honor in 2015… 5/17/15
The Brother / Sisterhood of public service. Military, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMT/Paramedics, Emergency Medical…who can you turn to for help? Each other. 5/19/15
Gretchen Carlson – The Real Story, for having Freedom and me on your show to tell the story…and help bring awareness to Service Dogs for veterans with PTSd. 5/20/15
Scott Attenborough – my partner and good friend. Read his post, but pay particular attention to the chapter after the subheading The Making of a Warrior. He gets it. 5/21/15
William “Rick” Smith – my K9s for Warriors classmate, and a lifelong friend. Funny, serious, and a good man – with a unique perspective on life, and really nice “new shoes”. 6/15/15
Firefighters – not always what you’d think. We all know the life-saving heroes that little boys emulate and people look up to, but there’s another side…beware. 6/17/15
Law Enforcement Officers / Agents – contrary to the current populist view, the vast majority are dedicated, caring individuals who put their lives on the line for us, at a cost. 6/21/15
Clint Goodwin – retired Navy Commander, accomplished writer, sportsman, husband and father, good son, mentor, and a great friend of mine. 6/22/15
Politics – especially relevant as this presidential election cycle draws on. Exercise your rights, educate yourself, take a stand…and vote!
Emergency Medical Professionals – EMTs, Paramedics, emergency room nurses, doctors and staff…all carry tough burdens, but there are plenty of positive and inspiring stories… 6/26/15
Tracy Libby – for telling all our stories in her book Reporting for Duty (Wounded Warriors and Their Canine Heroes). She even wrote a chapter about Freedom and me. 6/29/15
Independence Day, the 4th of July – celebrate all those who made it possible, and celebrate your freedom. Here is a pictorial tribute – enjoy! 7/4/15
Kyle Carpenter – young Marine Corporal, severely combat wounded, Medal of Honor recipient, and quiet, self-deprecating, humble Hero (big “H”). It’s the simple things… 7/10/15
Bekker – the protagonist of my 10 book series. See them here: So Kuiken…What the Heck are you Writing About? (books 1-5), and Kuiken’s Books – Part II (books 6 -10). 7/15/15
The Fourteenth Amendment – Due Process and Equal Protection Under the Law. All US persons are guaranteed equal protection and due process…period. 9/9/15
Fox and Friends – for having us on your show and allowing us to spread the word…and save lives, bringing awareness to veterans that there is a way, and to those who support us. 9/18/15
Military mindset – For those serving, those suffering from the effects of service, and those who support them. Tough to watch. Tougher to live. If you do, nothing will ever stop you. 9/24/15
Adele Levine – physical therapist to some of the most severely wounded veterans, best-selling author, caring person, irreverent and self-deprecating speaker, and a good friend. 10/18/15
Nurses – more unsung heroes... Without them, the wheels would just stop turning. Thank them, and all the other quiet medical professionals (lab techs, etc.) every chance you get. 10/25/15
Veterans Day – a federal holiday, a day off from work and school. Let me tell you what Veterans Day is to me, my dad, my grandfathers, etc… My Veterans Day. 11/11/15
Mentors – those who gently guide us to success. Who have been your mentors? Who and how many have you helped along the way? I’ve been honored have some great ones… 11/25/15
Thanksgiving Day - Ever wonder how those serving overseas celebrate Thanksgiving? How about their families back home…how are they celebrating? Give thanks for them. 11/26/15
Those who have sacrificed – SMSgt Mark Rayment was only one of many…but he was the only one to his family. Honor those who have given all, and those who have lost the one. 12/01/15
Marine Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia – the second Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and the Secretary of Defense). Semper Fi Bryan, my friend. 12/08/15
The Quiet Heroes – gently slipping away, unnoticed. This nation was made and preserved by those quiet heroes, like Private George Retzlaff, who pass silently in the night. Which of your neighbors, relatives, or elderly person in the nursing home can you reach out to and recognize, honor and give thanks to? They are our national treasure. 12/10/15
This last one was not from 2015, but the process started then, and I wanted to share it with you anyway. Freedom and I had to fly down to Florida for our recertification test to remain a Warrior / Service Dog team. We did great, and had a good time while we were there – and even did a photo shoot afterwards to help spread the word about the program. I would like to thank the following Non-Profit (or for-profit, but who donate their time and expense) organizations that made it possible, and who help veterans every day – at no cost to the veteran!
Looking back, 2015 was a great year, and now I’m looking forward to 2016. See you there!
Image Copyright: photoart23d / 123RF Stock Photo