top of page


Spontaneous Overflow Reflecting in Tranquility

The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Mike Practices What He Preaches!

Time has always been a challenge for me. I am never sure if Time is a friend or a foe. There never seems to be enough Time to do everything I want, but then when faced with a day where nothing is scheduled, I wonder how I am ever going to fill up the Time. When I’m on vacation, lying on the beach, enjoying the sun and surf, I think – In 7 days it'll all be over, and I’ll be back at my desk at work. Occasionally Time flies, and I wonder where it went, and then, stuck in a long line or traffic jam, Time just seems to creep along

Let's just say that Time and I are in a troubled relationship. So when I took some time off a few weeks ago, I decided not to do my usual thing which is to fill up each and every moment with an activity, task, or event. But this time I decided to do something different.

“So what are you going to do with your days off, honey?” My wife asked me.

“Nothing,” I told her.

I saw her reaching for a pen and pad – NOT THE HONEY-DO LIST! – So I quickly added, “I mean I am going to have an artist’s retreat.”

She didn’t know what that was. I didn’t know either, but it bought me time to work out a plan. What I decided to do was to put into practice what I've been writing and sketching about these past few months. I began with this question: What will my ideal life look like in five years?

I asked this same question to my nephew a few weeks earlier, and he said, "In five years, I plan to make most of my money by writing and publishing science fiction stories.” He had completed a couple of manuscripts and was working on revising them to submit to a publisher.

Being able to picture clearly and identify just exactly what your ideal life will look like is a great exercise for anyone and for those of us who live with anxiety, procrastination, and perfectionism, it is a relief. So what did I do during those days off? I scheduled moments to spend with Time to think about, dream about, and picture what my ideal life would look like in five years in as concrete a way as I could by incorporating as many of my senses in this picture as possible. Most importantly, according to Marc Allen, I did it in a relaxed, and easy going way.

So I sat in my comfy chair each morning with a notebook, pen, and hot cup of coffee. I set the timer for 20 minutes and began to write about what I would like to be doing in five years. At first, looking at that empty page was scary. “What am I going to write? What do I have to say? Nothing is going to come out.”

My Inner Critic was on high alert and shouting into my ear. But I was surprised that after a few sentences of writing what I would look like or where I was living, ideas began to flow. I wrote about my ideal self -- strong, flexible, and full of energy. I wrote about my artistic self -- writing and drawing. I wrote about my adventurous self - trips to Europe, hiking in the mountains, and kayaking. I wrote about my contemplative-self - relaxed and mindful. And each time I ran out of words I just wrote “I don’t know what to write next” until the words began to flow again – which they always did.

At first it felt a little weird, but eventually, each scene became clearer and clearer with more detail and specifics. I pictured myself holding books I’d published and reading articles I’d written in the Lima News. I imagined that I was sketching street scenes in New Orleans. I looked slimmer, stronger, more flexible – fitting into pants I hadn’t worn in a while. There I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and visiting friends in California and Massachusetts. I tried my best to be as concrete as possible.

It took a few mornings of this daydream writing – setting the timer for twenty or thirty minutes - and just enjoying watching this scene emerge onto the paper. Morning time was best for me because the house was quiet, the coffee fresh, and I felt more in the mood.

I wrote this scene until it was very concrete. I didn't put up any barriers or roadblocks or excuses like money, health, etc. What I imagined was my dream, my new story, and I could dream anything I liked.

The most important first step to take is to have a clear idea of what I love and what’s important to me otherwise, worry, anxiety and fear will fill my thoughts with dread and impending doom. So after writing my new scene a few times, I listed the goals and values that were important to me from each scene. (More on how this worked out in the next blog.)


And maybe not ever. So many of our dreams and ideas get shot down by well-meaning people who are trying to be helpful and don’t want to see us disappointed; that is, bring us back down to “reality” after we’ve just had such a lovely time in our new story. Don’t let them crush your spirit no matter how well-meaning and helpful they want to be. For now – KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! Just enjoy the view.

If you need some prompts to get you started, the folks who wrote, “The Mindfulness and Acceptance Therapy Workbook” have a nice list that you could use. They suggest giving each of your items a priority and even writing an intention to go with each one. Pick a couple of them, set the timer, and start writing.

What does your ideal life look like in these areas?

• Work

• Relationships

• Parenting

• Learning

• Friends

• Health

• Family

• Spirituality

• Community

• Recreation

• Something Else?

Why is this important to me?

What is the priority?

What affirmation could I write for this goal?

Stephen Covey also has a helpful idea. He identifies four areas of focus you could use to get started. Pick one, set the timer, and start writing.

The Four Dimensions of Your Life

o Body (Physical Dimension) – exercise, eat healthy, sleep well, relax. o Brain (Mental Dimension) – read, educate, write, learn new skills. o Heart (Emotional Dimension) – build relationships, service, and laugh. o Soul (Spiritual Dimension) – meditate, keep a journal, pray, take in quality media.

As I focused more and more on what I loved, named, and pictured it, I felt less overwhelmed by worry, anxiety, and fear. I could now refocus my dark thoughts of dread and impending doom to the brighter thoughts of my new story. I could think about what I want to do to make this dream a reality; to live the life I want to live.


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey;

The Mindfulness and Acceptance Therapy Workbook for Anxiety; John Forsyth Ph.D., George Eifert Ph.D.;

Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, Timothy Pychyl Ph.D.;

The Greatest Secret of Them All, Marc Allen.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Mike
  • Facebook Basic Square

If you are in crisis call 1-800-567-HOPE (4673) or text 741 741.

bottom of page