February 23, 2014

The Boat Is Already Rocking

I read an article recently that stated that "bad is 5X stronger than good."  The article was a business piece on the influence of bad apples on the morale and performance of good apples and suggested ways to minimize those effects.

Over all, there were some good points made, but what stuck in my mind more than anything was the assertion that "bad" is 5X stronger than "good."

I don't believe that for a moment.  Bad is NOT 5X stronger than good. Bad is 5X louder than good and louder does not equal stronger.  For some reason "disgruntled" manages to find a voice for itself while "satisfied" and "content"  don't always need vocal expression.

"Good" people for instances, tend not to want to "rock the boat."  Guess what people...the boat is already rocking and unless something is done, we could all end up wet.  It's time for those who are positive, have faith in the future, with good character and work ethic to speak up and steady it.

When did "good" become the silent majority?  When did bullying become the acceptable "way things are?"  It happened one choice to keep quiet at a time.

In every place where we have influence, it is up to us to use that influence as a voice that speaks in opposition to "bad" whether it be negative attitudes or character degradation.  If good keeps it's mouth shut, it's asserting contentment with what's being said or done by default.

So, does one bad apple spoil the whole bunch?   Yes if all the other apples sit around and adopt by default the rotting influence of the one bad apple. 

To Good Apples Everywhere:  SPEAK UP OR GET READY TO SWIM.





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February 22, 2014

Why Keeping Commitments Counts



"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far I've finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." —Dave Barry

I LOVE this quote by Dave Barry! It’s not only funny, it shows how ingenious humans are at hearing what they want to hear.  Interpretation is a wonderful thing and worthy of a writing all it’s own...but for now, back to “finishing.”

 I’ve often had visions of myself in procrastinators hell...a room filled to the top with all my unfinished projects, and none of the supplies I need to work on them. I shudder just thinking about it. (especially that ugly hook rug!)

I'm pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I guess many of us start things we don’t get around to finishing.  What happens to the excitement and energy present as a project gets underway?  Could it be that we overlook the "process" as we’re romanticizing the finished product? I know that tends to be true with me. I forget, while picturing the new finish on that old table, the hours of messy, smelly work involved in getting it from point A to point B. 

 I suppose we can claim no harm/no foul on some of the projects we start and go rogue on.  Who really needs another cross stitch, and if all tables were finished...why would we need table cloths? 

There are other “projects”  however, that really need to have a good "finish."  Having a child for instance. There’s a project that demands seeing through, and the most difficult moments, well handled, will reap benefits for years to come. Relationships are another place where going rouge on commitments is a bad idea. It takes so much time and effort to build trust and so little of each to lose it.  

Commitments we make to others are important not only for what it means to them, but for what it makes of us.  

The world is changing. It’s becoming much easier to isolate ourselves from the immediate consequences of breaking promises. It’s much simpler not to follow through when we can text, tweet, or email our excuses.  We can postpone the discomfort of seeing the disappointment in the eyes of those we leave at the curb. The point is this:  

 We never break any promise that doesn’t break off a small part of ourselves as well.  The most expensive clothing will never dress up poor character.  

Our character enters a room before us and stays long after we leave. It's what lets us rest easy when we lay our heads on the pillow at the end of a long day and offers the same peace and reassurance to those who are depending on us to keep our word.

With the world seeming to speed up daily, It's easy to get ourselves over involved and over committed.  We want to help whenever we can and take advantage of every opportunity put before us.  Often, somewhere between the good intention and the performance of our commitments, other things may come along that cry louder for our attention. It can be something that we know we'll enjoy more or an unexpected crisis we're called to deal with on short notice.  Being stretched to our limits can create situations where it's more likely we'll be unable to keep promises made.

When we break a promise to someone, it doesn't feel any better that we've forgotten than it does when we just don't bother to follow through. The message "You're not important" is the same.  We may forget our commitments, but those we've made them to won't - even if they don't mention it.

Because I’ve learned the hard way, that saying yes too often (or when I really mean no) leads to frustration instead of satisfaction for everyone involved, I’ve adopted this new policy:

 “If I can’t say yes with passion, I say no without apology.”

This allows me to be a happy commitment keeper.  Now, when I do say yes, I mean it and put my heart into following through. When I say no, I leave the opportunity open for someone else who could fulfill the role in that same happy spirit, possibly even better than I might have.

When my new policy fails, (and it will...I'm a recovering people pleaser,)  I'll do what it takes to muster the passion to follow through well and enjoy doing it.


I’ve found that in some instances, not making commitments can be just as character building as keeping the commitments I do make. 

 It also allows me to keep a commitment to myself to live a more authentic life. Besides, if I don't over commit, I may have time to finish that ugly hook rug!




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February 17, 2014

Shawarma, Tabbouleh, A Book, Oh My!

Whoever said you can't teach a dog new tricks, didn't know this old dog!

In January, I started a blog.  That's a new trick!  In January I also posted on Facebook that "I hope my life never gets so exciting  that I feel a need to post about it in 140 characters on Twitter."  I then added that "I hoped my life never got so boring that I would want to follow anyone else's life in 140 Characters on Twitter."

In February alone, I finished a book, and became a middle eastern cook! AND...I also joined Twitter!  Yes, yes, I know.  A total sell out on my part, and just one more notch on my "don't knock it till you've tried it board."  (There are actually some people on there who  are contributing substance that I'd otherwise have missed!  I've learned a lot already!  Just be selective with who you follow.)

So, here's what this "old dog" has learned:  There is still so much to learn!  One year ago I'd never heard of Shawarma!  Now I'm cooking it.  Tabbouleh?  What the heck is that or Quinoa for that matter?  Who knew there was Quinoa??

I'm a dedicated learner of new things.  I thrive on new ideas and will hit on something and obsessively study the heck out of it until...wait!  Look over there!  There's something else awesome I've missed! Then I'm off to find out all I can about that.

I have an intimate relationship with Google.  We visit several times daily.

Learning, trying new things, engaging with new people, trying on new ideas...that's what keeps life vibrant.  It's so easy to get stuck in a rut believing everything worth knowing, we already know.  I've met people like that.  It's perplexing to me!

The most intolerant, unhappy, unfulfilled people I know are those who have decided they know all they need to know and shut down new ideas.   Not engaging with "new" disallows the opportunity for understanding other peoples points of view.  We might often still disagree, but sometimes tolerance is a simple as understanding how someone else might have, through their own life experience, landed at their current belief systems.

I'm not advocating switching values.  My values remain steadfast.  They're what give me the foundational support to go exploring.  They're the breadcrumbs I drop to follow back home.

I could go on all day extolling the virtue of continued learning, exploring and wondering.  The problem is, I might miss something so I'm off, but I leave you with this advice:  Do one new thing today.  Ask a different question, find the answer.  It might lead you on a great adventure to somewhere you'd never imagined. 





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February 16, 2014

Channeling Your Inner Phoenix


The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. - Moliere


Just in case you failed Egyptian Mythology, (or didn't bother with it like me) let me give you the cliff notes I found online.

The Phoenix is an "Egyptian mythological bird of red, gold and purple plumage, colors of the rising sun. The phoenix, symbolizing rebirth and resurrection, died in the fire of the funeral pyre, but arose from the ashes."

In November of 2006, I died in a kind of fire. My life as I knew it, came crashing down into a funeral pyre and ignited. There were ashes alright!  Lot's and lots of ashes.  

There were nights that I would rock back and forth listening to a song called "Calling All Angels" hoping that if I replayed it enough times, they'd hear me and come descending on a golden staircase to save me. (As it turned out they did...I just didn't know it yet.)

It doesn't matter what happened to unleash the hounds of hell that ripped my insides out. What does matter is there was fire, there were ashes, I died and was buried under them, and I rose. 

There were times I was sure I would never again see the light through the ashes. There were times I didn't want to see the light through the ashes. Every night would melt away into another day and the sun would rise as if that were alright under the circumstances.

At times, I would welcome morning believing that all had passed and I was whole again!  By noon I'd be gathering the ashes around myself trying to put out the light that I was still too raw to face.

Healing comes in waves, and so it was with me. It was happening as I rocked and listened, and prayed. It was happening when I moved the ashes and peeked out, and it was happening as I was gathering them back around myself. It happened as I confided in trusted friends. It happened as each tear fell and it happened when laughter forced it's way out to break the monotony.

I don't believe for a second that I suffered more deeply than others have and still will suffer.  I don't believe my pain was unique in any way other than it was mine. I do believe that all suffering has purpose and teaching to offer us. I say "offer" intentionally. It won't be forced upon us and we won't be compelled to accept it, but the gift is extended if we care to reach for and open it.  

Having faced enough mornings since that time, with the attendant healing they bring, I'd like to pretend that I'm now fireproof. I'd like to believe I'm impervious to pain and suffering and  having made it through one of the darkest hours of my life, I'll now be able to blissfully sally forth through the rest of my time here with nary a care in the world.  Wouldn't we all?  

The truth is, if I had any idea the inner knowing that facing those dark nights of the soul would open me up to, I might jolly well have lit myself on fire!

Adversity is not a pleasant teacher, but it's a great one. The lessons I've learned "the hard way" are lessons that stay with me and give me the grit to stare the future in the face and say "bring it!"

We all have an inner Phoenix. I didn't know that until I met my own. I don't know when you'll have the chance to meet yours, but if you haven't already, then I pray you feel it when your angels come marching in, and as you rise from your own ashes, I hope you'll be even more beautiful than the mythical bird described above

Next time the pyre timber begin to stack up around you, embrace the lessons waiting for you, channel your inner Phoenix and be ready to soar!    


February 15, 2014

Profound Concept

I read this quote today:

"STOP TRYING TO FIND YOURSELF AND START BEING YOURSELF!"

What a concept!  You mean we don't have to spend our days trying to figure out what we're suppose to be, what everyone else would prefer us to be, and how to go about being all  things to all people? Apparently I missed a memo!

I've spent a shameful amount of my life trying to do just that.  Even though my dad offered great advice like "A mistake is proof that someone tried." and "If someone is talking about you, they're giving some other poor fool the day off." and my personal favorite, "Time wounds all heels,"  I still tried to be what I believed others wanted me to be.  Sometimes I did well at it.  Others seemed pleased.  At other times, I failed miserably.  Trying to please others assumes that we can ever truly know what other people want.  Most of the time, they might not even be sure themselves and yet, we think we've got it all figured out??  The sad truth is this: No matter how well I did living the "pleasing everyone" myth, there was always at least one person who was never happy.  ME.
It's taken me way too long to learn that I was put on earth to be me.  I came with a unique set of characteristics that are mine alone.  I am here to do the best I can with those qualities and to acquire more along the way.  We can't acquire more when we're living less.  We can't give and uplift from what we refuse to honor and own of ourselves. We can't pour from an empty vessel, and yet we try and try and try.
If time travel becomes possible, I think I might go back in time and whack my twenty-something self over the head and say "Hey...you!  Yes, you!  The one running around feeling like you'll never be good enough, I'm talking to you!  Get over it!  Rise up and be yourself come what may.  You won't please everyone.  You're not suppose to, but you are suppose to offer the best you have while you're learning better.  Now go out there and do it girl!"

To that, my twenty-something self would roll her eyes and wonder "what does she know?"

Ah forget it! She'll figure it out!


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February 8, 2014

Beginnings And Endings

Today as I'm preparing to attend a funeral, I'm reminded of the constancy of beginnings and endings and how the lines between them blur into one.

Every beginning means an ending of something and every ending ushers in a new beginning.  Today as we say goodbye to a good man and mourn the ending of his time here, it also signals the beginning a different time.  A time without him.

We all have an ocean view of life with its constant waves of comings and goings.  The highs roll slowly into the lows before they steadily rise to crest again.

Rhythm.  Motion.  Change.  All of these create the music of life and we - are the dancers.
 

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February 5, 2014

Is Finding Our Dream As Hard As Living It?

I think deep inside, each of has something calling to us.  Maybe we feel it as a longing for something more.  Some people may feel it as dissatisfaction in what they're doing or the way things are.  No matter how we experience it,  I believe until we find it, we'll always know it's out there somewhere lost and waiting for us to come and get it.  We'll hear it whisper and feel restless.

I came across an article today written by Thai Nguyen that had some compelling questions that if really considered and answered, might lead us farther down the path of discovery.

1. If you had all the money in the world, what would you spend each day doing?
2. What is it that you do that people regularly complement you on?
3. If you could set up a charity, what specific need/group would you target?

Answering the first question will help us find what it is we really love to do.  The second will point us to latent and possibly unused talents or gifts.  The third, I think I love most.  It shows us where our heart is being called...the place we're needed and where we can add value.


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February 3, 2014

Can Thoughts Change Water?


I was fascinated by a study I recently came across done by Dr. Masaru Emoto Hado.  Dr. Hado became interested in finding out if human thought and intention had the power to shape and influence the world.  To test this question, he and his team took water from a lake, and placed 1 drop of the water on each of a number of petri dishes.  They taped various words that evoke powerful emotion randomly to each of the petri dishes and then froze each dish to allow crystals to form.  The results were astounding.  I’m not going to tell you what happened...I’d rather you see it for yourself.





As you go throughout the day, PLEASE consider carefully the power of your thoughts and words to transform not only your life, but the world we all share.  If you’re moved by what you see, share it with someone you care about.  It’s my intention, to elevate the thoughts and intentions of as many people as possible for the good of all.

“For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Make it a wonderful day!


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February 2, 2014

Hmm

So much said, so few words!

"In the space between yes and no, there's a lifetime. It's the difference between the path you walk and the one you leave behind; it's the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; it’s the legroom for the lies you'll tell yourself in the future."


(Jodi Picoult, 1966 - )

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