Monday, March 28, 2016

Up on the mountain

Man this year is cruising by, isn't it?
It seems like I turn around and we are into the next month with no looking back.
I work on a Google calendar constantly and it seems like I live my life so much in the future that
I get lost in the "Now" sometimes, I am sure a lot of you know what I am talking about.
I can tell you where I am playing on October 15th, but I am not certain what day it is today!

But then I get days like I got yesterday.  
No hurry, no bustle, just a family day that was in no rush.
I was so tired and wore out from working all week, I couldn't have moved fast if I tried.
It just seemed like I was living in "Slow Motion".
I saw every smile on every face, I heard every word from every mouth and I enjoyed it all.
My mother-in-law is an excellent cook and we had a great big Easter dinner with all the 
family there.  The girls were playing and telling stories and my father-in-law was schooling me
on politics and I was learning.
It was one of those days where I felt like I wasn't quite in my body, I was a little outside of it
and could see myself with the others. I was there in full form but also an outsider reveling in
the comradery of loved ones. 
It's one of those days where I tell my wife I love her about a thousand times.
Yes I am grateful, yes I am thankful and I try my best to be aware, but sometimes I am the most
aware when I don't try at all and just let it happen, like yesterday.

Life happens, everyday, with or without us.
I am always knee deep in it, working, taking care of kids and goal oriented.
I have many fires to put out on any given day and that takes a lot of space up in my head,
but I am always trying to make sure I connect. Maybe it's just for a minute in the car or the shower,
I say a prayer and make contact. I always wish I could do more, and I could but I have a million excuses. It seems to me that when I take a second to just slow down and breathe, it all gets easier.
A day like yesterday doesn't happen everyday, it could not, I would get nothing done.
A friend used to say "I can't stay up on the mountain too long, I have to get back down in the valley
where the work is being done."
It is so true.
I am down in the valley today where I belong and I am doing what I need to do, but I truly
enjoyed my trip to the mountain top yesterday. It was a glorious view.

Peace, Love, Zito

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Always do your best.....

Always do your best.
We have heard that since we were children.
It's one of those sayings that are cliche and sometimes just stale
if we have become jaded in life, but it still rings true in adulthood
and maybe even more now to me than ever before.

My mother was a sweet woman who grew up literally "Dirt" poor.
She lived in Ashland, Mo with her mother, brother and sister.
Her mother worked at a shoe factory and they lived in a shack,
not every room had a floor.
She came from meager beginnings and was very simple and loving.
She would always tell me "Michael, just do your best."
It seemed like the obvious childhood pep talk for life, and sometimes
not always the most spirited.
She meant it, but I think I always thought she was saying "You're shooting for the stars,
that probably won't happen. Come back down to Earth and just do your best."
From her upbringing, she had gotten out of poverty and into the middle class,
that was a big achievement in one generation.  
But I had high hopes and dreams that were way beyond our apartment in south St. Louis.
She never deterred me, but she was not always supportive. She didn't understand why
I had to have such a special life, just get a job and go to work like everyone else.
Either way, as long as I was happy and being responsible, she was happy too.
She was very supportive and proud later in life when I got my shit together and took care
of my family and I got to do so playing my music. That really made her happy.
She was a poet and really appreciated my lyrics.

I know now that she truly meant "Always do your best."
She would usually follow that up with "What else could you do?"
I don't think I have ever really given that phrase enough consideration until recently in my life.
I have been a people pleaser and an "overdoer" for years.
I am never satisfied with my life, my work, myself.
In the past few years of recovery I have truly found an inner peace to be happy with who I am
and what I do and I am very grateful for the life I live.
But from time to time I would worry to make sure that everything and everyone was getting
what they needed from me. Making sure my family was provided for, the band members
were being taken care of 100%, and that I went above and beyond to make everything count
in my life. It was never enough. I was never satisfied with my results, and sometimes
the people I gave the most to, they were never satisfied either. They always wanted more.
It finally hit me as I was working some steps and putting in some spiritual maintenance,
Just "always do your best".
Thats all I have to do, nothing more, nothing less.
I read that in the book "The Four Agreements".
It instantly reminded me of my mother and it began to make sense on a deeper, spiritual level.
Stop trying to give away more than you should, give what is the right amount in any given situation
and thats enough.  Stop trying to please everyone, because it is not possible.
Give what is necessary for each situation, just always do your best.
My life began to change last year, it made sense now.
Why worry about anything if I am always doing my best.
If I have done everything I can do, why do more?
If anyone is not happy with my best, that is there problem, not mine.
Most of the time they are more than happy with my best, I just feel the need to give more
because I can be insecure or manipulating in my people pleasing.
It is not honest or truthful or real, it's not me being me.
Suddenly everything changed.
I stopped worrying so much, I began to let it all go and just relax.
It all works out in God's time, in His will, not mine.
I just need to show up and do my best and everything is going to be fine.

It's easy to think we know what this old cliche means, but take time today to think deeper.
I don't have to do everything today, just do what needs to be done today.
I don't have to give everything to everyone, just give them what I am able to give.
In any given situation, I only need to do my best.
That is a weight off of my shoulders, because I have been working way too hard for no reason.
I gave all of my energy away and ran low and thats when I become restless, irritable and discontent.
No one else expects us to give more than our best, except ourselves.
And sometimes, we cannot do what we did yesterday or last week or last year.
We get older, tired, sick, life changes and we are human.
When I do all I can do today and it is not what I could do yesterday, I have done my best.

So I have been repeating this to myself in prayer for the past 6 months and in any situation,
when I begin to worry or stress or get my hands dirty......I listen to my mother,
and everything is fine.

Peace, Love, Zito