Blog Post # 60 – Not Yet Healed

Today, we have to dig deep.

Go beyond the surface and get to what it is that is eating us up.

We know that spot; we have visited it before.

This work of introspection, of learning who we are, is certainly not easy.

Not by a longshot.

We can glide through days at a time without ever doing the heavy work that it takes to find our true selves. Those days can turn into months, years.

This is especially true if a past trauma has broken a part of us. A part yet to be healed.

Not all scar tissue is visible. Injuries sometimes have a funny way of healing. The broken bone heals, but not completely. So true with emotional traumas.

Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to heal from past emotional traumas is to spend time digging around in there – revisiting past pain. We do this not to torture ourselves, but rather to try and “re-heal” in a healthier way.

Someone close to you may be going through this difficult process right now.

You might cut them some slack. It might help a bit.

Come to think of it, we may find it helpful to move through this world assuming that the people that we interact with are doing their best to deal with whatever issues they themselves have.

Even though we can’t see those hidden scars, we may be observing the manifestation of the prior trauma in the conduct that we observe.

Certainly a gentler way to treat people.

Even if the person that we observe to trying overcome is staring at us in the mirror.

Peace and love to us all today.

Amen.

Blog Post # 59 – Stuffed

Do we really need all of this stuff?

The stuff in our house, the stuff in our office, the stuff in our lives.

We are overly stuffed.

We buy things that we don’t need.

Often, we buy these things on credit and pay for them later.

Stuff, stuff and more stuff.

Unlimited choice at places like Wal-Mart and Amazon means that we can get whatever stuff we want almost instantaneously.

We don’t even have to get out of bed to purchase more stuff.

Heck, in America, we have an entire industry – self-storage, pod units – designed to store the stuff that we can’t fit into our overly stuffed house.

Doesn’t it also seem like there are many more thrift resale shops than there used to be. At least these stores help raise money for worthy causes like Goodwill, Amvets and the American Kidney Foundation.

Yet they still stand as a testament to our mini-obsession of too much stuff.

We buy too much, we eat too much and we simply consume too much.

This leads us to work extra hours, to make extra money to pay for extra stuff.

Then we get stressed out working those extra hours which makes us tired and, you guessed it, susceptible to buying more stuff.

I often wonder when I meet with immigrants from very poor parts of the world what they think about all of our stuff. What they think about grocery stores filled to the rafters with abundance and the “gift” of unlimited selection.

Maybe the next time we think about buying more stuff, we can ask ourselves if we truly need it or do we just want it? Not necessarily out of some noble, minimalist view of the world, but simply to cut down on the amount of our stuff.

Blog Post # 58 – The Long View

Too often, we obsess on the short-term fix.

The quick solution. The easy answer.

Hopefully, we will all be on this planet for many years to come.

Strides in medical research and better lifestyle choices mean that many of us will live much longer than our grandparents did, at least on average.

We need to take that into account when deciding what we can build, accomplish and achieve.

If we take the long view – we’re talking five years, ten years and beyond – it changes our outlook on things.

It frees us to dream a little bigger and to try a little harder.

And we are not talking here about saving for retirement or thinking of that glorious day when we can “do what we want really want to do.”

Rather, we are tapping into our life’s work. Our special purpose. The one or two things that we want to be known and remembered for.

Narrow minded thinking yields narrow, little goals.

An expansive mind, open to all of life’s possibilities, produces huge goals – something important that is worthy of actually be called a goal.

So let’s challenge ourselves today to find our BHAG – big, hairy, audacious goal.

A marathon.

A novel.

A 60th wedding anniversary.

A trip around the world.

Let’s dream big, paint the sky and start striding towards something truly remarkable.

And then do one small thing today – this day – to bring ourselves one step closer to our shining future.

Blog Post # 57 – Give Yourself Away

Nobody really told you what it would take.

How becoming a mother would change you.

The sacrifices involved.

Sacrifices both large and small.

You give and give and then give some more.

And when the children ask again, you give once more.

Before they were born, there simply was no way to explain to you the amount of sacrifice that motherhood would take.

As Bono sang, “you give yourself away.” Then he sang it again and again.

Three-hundred and sixty-four days a year, you give yourself away.

Today is the one day out of the year when we honor you.

You will probably give a little of yourself today too.

Motherhood is a gift that you give to your family each and every day.

It would be easy for those of us who are not mothers to opine that being a mom helped you stretch, grow and expand your heart.

But that is not for us to say.

Because you are the only one who truly knows how much of yourself you have given away so freely.

We simply stand in awe of you.

And applaud.

Blog Post # 56 – The Day We Dreaded

Today is that day.

The day we dreaded.

The day that we knew would come.

Because sooner or later, this day comes for all of us.

My friend lost her papa yesterday.

He passed away after a long battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is one of those diseases that claims too many papas and too many mamas.

It is somewhat ironic that the disease is known by the name of one of the greatest baseball players to play the game given the fact that my favorite picture of my friend and her papa was taken at Busch Stadium during one of the Cardinals’ amazing runs through the baseball playoffs.

After her papa received his diagnosis, my friend waged her own private battle against ALS – organizing walks to raise money, reminding us of the ALS water bucket challenge and creating pocket sized stand-up photos of her papa for us to take to famous places all over the world.

My own papa’s heart stopped working when I was 11.  He was on vacation in Lake of the Ozarks and they had to airlift him on the side of a helicopter to SLU Hospital.  

My papa had a quintuple bypass back when bypasses were a relatively new thing.

Luckily for us, my papa lived.  I had friends whose papas weren’t so lucky in those years and every time that I see my papa, I thank my Higher Power for the extra time that we have had with him.

My friend loved her papa completely.  At the end of the day, I believe we all love our mamas and our papas completely.  They may have their flaws – but they are our only mama, our only papa.

I will be thinking of my friend and her papa very much in the days to come.

If you have it in you, please say a little prayer for my friend and her papa and her mama.

And if you have some spare dollars, please consider sending a little to continue the fight against ALS.

Rest in peace, Larry.  You were loved.

Blog Post # 55 – The Grace of Unplanned Opportunities

Serendipity.

Luck.

Fate.

The will of a Higher Power.

Often times, we try to bend the rest of the world to our will.

To control the outcome. To minimize our risk.

We want people to do what we want them to do. And to do so quickly and without objection.

Drive, drive, drive – push, push, push.

We leave little opportunity for chance. When we hold on so tightly, there is neither opportunity nor space for the beauty of fate.

It is sort of ironic.

We push so hard for things to go our way and we forget that some of the most beautiful moments of our lives are the ones that we had no control over.

The grace of unplanned opportunities.

Meeting the love of our life when we hold the door open for her.

Having a great idea while going for a walk.

Running into an old friend at the mall.

It is amazing – the things that can happen when we let go of the outcome.

Even if it is just a little.

Blog Post # 54 – Fiercer

Life can be tough. You are tougher.

The competition can be fierce. You are fiercer.

The hurdles can be significant. You are building something of significance.

Nobody said that life is easy.

That you can get what you want by just coasting along.

In any worthwhile endeavor, there will be obstacles and pitfalls all around.

As Jules riffed from Ezekiel, “the path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.”

And, of course, when I say “you,” I mean “we.”

We are tougher. We are fiercer. We are building something of significance.

And when we reach out from our comfort zone, when we take a risk – the world reacts.

It may react positively, it may react negatively.

This is out of our control. Completely.

But we aren’t fighting for them. We don’t need their approval.

This art we are creating, this life that we are building, these relationships that we are building.

We do it for us. For our inner self. From our place of strength.

We stretch ourselves because we know this is the one shot we have at life.

This marathon called life only happens once.

This is our shot. And we will take it together.

Go!

Blog Post # 53 – Turn Off, Tune Out and Kick Butt

“Serial rapist on the loose in South City.”

“Are your kids being poisoned by their school cafeteria lunch choices?”

“Mayor Smith resigns in disgrace.  Our exclusive story coming up next!!!”

Local and national news are designed to elicit one of two emotions – (1) fear or (2) anger.  Stories that produce both of those effects are the most popular.

One of the best small decisions that I have made over the course of the past few years was to stop watching the news.

I do not watch local news.  I do not watch the Crisis News Network.

I turned off the liberals on MSNBC.  I never started watching the unfair and unbalanced Fox News.

I do not listen to news on the radio very often.  And when I do, it is National Public Radio, which does not depend on ad revenue to survive.

Instead of the squawk box and the boob tube, I listen to podcasts.  

I choose podcasts on topics that I like with positive, upbeat messages.

Some of my favorite podcasts include I Love Marketing, On Being, Smart Passive Income, Brendon Burchard, The Ziglar Show and a guy named Michael Hyatt.

I listen to stuff from Gary Vaynerchuk almost every day.

And Seth Godin has a great series of talks on startups that they turned into a podcast.

I also use the time in my car to listen to books.  I borrow CDs from the county library and I buy books from Audible.com.  I just finished John Grisham’s latest book and now I am re-reading The Emyth Revisited by Michael Gerber.  

In turning off the predictable garbage from corporate media and by choosing what messages reach my brain, I believe that my outlook has actually changed for the better.

I engineered away the negative and regularly fill my head with upbeat messages that expand my brain.

I encourage you to try turning it all off for 7 days.  See what happens.  You might really like it.

Blog Post # 52 – A Simple Kindness

People come into our lives.

Some stay close for years to come, others fade away quickly.

Mentors guide us.

Teachers instruct us.

Old friends challenge us, new friends excite us.

But what is the word for the people from your past who changed your life for the better with a simple act of kindness or generosity.

I ran into just such a person on Grant’s Trail recently.

We call him Mr. Fitz

His son and I were close in high school and college.

And several months after graduation, I was living in my parents’ basement, trying to figure out what to do with my life.

The phone rang. It was Mr. Fitz.

“Hey turks, what are you doing these days?”

“Nothing much,” I replied.

“Why don’t you come down to Gray & Ritter (his law firm) and help us out with this case?”

So began my return to an interest in the law.

I worked for two years between college and law school at G&R, sorting mail, running errands, tracking down documents (this was pre-internet) for cases the firm was handling.

This little job literally changed the trajectory of my life.

It reignited my desire to be a lawyer.

It led me to law school.

It introduced me to many of my very best friends.

If I hadn’t gone to law school when I did, I would not have met my wife.

My four kids wouldn’t be on the planet.

All from a simple act of generosity from someone in a position to help.

Nobody asked him to do it. He just did it.

And changed my life.

Never underestimate how a small act of kindness, especially an unrequested one, can change someone else’s entire future.

You may have to seek out such an opportunity, but it is so worth it.

Blog Post # 51 – Darkness, My Old Friend

So very easy to slip into the darkness.

The hollow place.

Where no light reaches.

The spot inside where the wind howls, forcing a shudder.

A thought. A memory. A fear.

Always inviting and willing to envelop us.

To trick us into that accepting that other version of reality.

A slide into the darkness.

In just an instant, fear takes over.

Like when we awoke from a nightmare as a child.

Blocking the truth, masking the light.

No matter how good things may be going, the darkness never stops calling.

Reminding us of its presence.

Refusing to allow us to forget him.

Sometimes we listen. But at our own peril.

For today, let us forgo the slide, ignore the lies of the darkness.

To be present in the reality of our lives, instead of dwelling on the mistaken surrenders of our past.