Blog Post # 131 – The Digital Connection

Nowadays, we can have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world virtually for free.

We can have friends that we have never actually met face to face.

Technology allows us to stay connected to distant friends and family at the click of a button.

Four weeks ago, I spoke via Skype with a former member of the U.S. military in Afghanistan about the possibility of him sponsoring his fiance for a green card.

He was in Kabul, I was in Webster Groves, Missouri. This week, he came into the office and hired me.

Amazing.

On Facebook, we have a little group of 2,000 immigration attorneys called Cool Immigration Lawyers. I have never met the vast majority of the group members face-to-face, but I feel like I know many of them very well.

Technology allows us to connect more quickly, to send money wirelessly and to befriend strangers electronically.

While we hear a lot of negative news these days about Craigslist murders, the comment section of local newspapers and the distractions caused by the digital age, there are many, many positives to this world we live in.

This is a wonderful time to be alive.

We should remember that.

Now I think I will go shoot a YouTube video for work.

Blog Post # 130 – Sucked Back In

They keep pulling me back.

The news of the world and the election.

Keep getting sucked back in.

Something horrible happens, my eyes go to CNN and my Facebook/Twitter feeds.

What is the latest? I must know.

People die in incrementally more horrible ways.

Politicians avoid prosecution. Speakers plagiarize speeches. The world turns.

Elections are important. Paying a low level of attention to the news of the day is important.

I get that.

But there is a difference between being aware of what is going on in the world vs. being completely sucked in.

Getting in flame wars on Facebook with people that we don’t know.

Watching wall-to-wall convention coverage.

How much of this pablum really impacts my life on a day-to-day basis?

Feh!

I can vote. And I should.

But at the end of the day – the world is not crumbling, so the cavalry is not coming.

International and national news has its place, but let me focus on my immediate world.

On being the change that I want to see in the world.

Let me contribute to my fellow women and men right where I am.

To make someone’s life a little easier.

Their connection greater.

Their outlook brighter.

Screw ISIS. Screw Trump and Hill. Screw racists. Screw hatred.
I am here. Doing my thing. If you don’t like that or if you don’t fit – be gone.

Blog Post # 129 – Closer to Calm

When I don’t feel like talking, I usually have a lot to say.

The more quiet I get, the more I probably need to yell and scream.

Shutting down emotionally is a way to soldier through.

Anger towards myself over a mistake can take up a lot of emotional energy.

And it’s okay to want to lower the temperature inside my head.

But numbing with food or other distractions is not the way to go.

Turning off my emotions does little good.

Perhaps it is better for me to sit with the frustration, the anger.

To be present in the moment of discomfort without trying to shoo it away.

Somewhere between white hot anger and turning off all emotional switches is where I need to be.

Closer to calm, but not dead to the pain.

Deep breaths.

Quiet space.

Silent focus.

Breathe in the frustration, breathe out the possibility of peace.

In. Out. In. Out.

Balance. Level. Serene.

Here’s hoping!

Blog Post # 128 – Impulses & Rationalizations

Impulses.

And rationalization.

These two actions can sabotage our best efforts to improve.

When we act on impulse, with little to no thought, bad decisions are easy.

If we then add rationalizations on top of those impulsive actions, finding a justification for the impulsive choice only makes matters worse.

Example: we plan out our three meals, no desserts, nothing in between.

But about 3 pm, we are tired and our blood sugar is low. We walk by a store and there is a big chocolate chip cookie staring at us in the face. Impulse – buy and eat that cookie. Rationalization – well, I worked hard today, I am tired, it looks really good and I deserve it.

Impulse + Rationalizations = Another Bad Choice

How do we keep these two types of activities from sabotaging our best efforts?

One thing that we can try is to plan a little better. To anticipate things like the 3 pm tiredness and plan a health snack. The simple act of planning can shield us from poor choices.

Another strategy is to anticipate the rationalization too. To listen to the (sometimes crazy) things that we say to ourselves. The “oh, well, just this one time” kind of statement.

We can always call a friend too. Tell them of our kooky thoughts. Articulating our crazy thoughts put them out in the universe and out of our head.

Finally, we can try to break that quick split second between impulse and decision. To draw out our decision making process a bit. Give us more time to return to equilibrium and get back to a good spot to make a positive decision.

This last tip – pausing before giving in to the impulse – requires us to remember to actually take that pause, but can be a big help in keeping us on track.

Blog Post # 127 – Up Awake

Wake up.

Up awake, up awake, up awake.

I forget how important it is to wake up early.

How much more I accomplish by waking up earlier.

Today, I woke up at 5. Went to Grant’s Trail and ran, went to the grocery store, picked up donuts for the kids, put groceries away, prepared dinner and cleaned the kitchen all before 8:15 am.

I love getting that much done.

For me, the single biggest stress reliever is getting up earlier.

And I forget this from time to time.

Last Friday, I had one of those days where I was late for my first appointment and I was running late all day.

Hated it.

I find that I am much calmer, serene, purposeful and in tune when I wake up earlier.

So if you find yourself stressed out, you might try waking up at 5 or 5:30. See how much you get done and let me know how it feels.

Peace.

 

Blog Post # 126 – What Our Children See

What do our children see?

Is there a difference between what we say to our children and how we really act in front of them?

Does our conduct match our professed values?

Children are extremely observant and they take a lot in.

If we sit back and reflect, we can probably remember things that we observed when we were very young.

Some of these are pleasant memories, others could revolve around a trauma.

The point is that children can be little recording devices, learning how to be in this world by watching how we act in this world.

This role as parent carries great responsibility for forming our children by the daily interactions that occur.

Truth wins out. Kids generally have a decent sense of who their parents are.

Sometimes, we fall short. Lose our temper. Say things that we wish we had not said in front of our children.

Let us remember that what we say to our kids, how we motivate our kids and how we teach our kids on a daily basis will have much more of an impact on the person that they become than virtually any other factor.

If we provide them with confidence, stability, encouragement and teach them about all the possibilities that are out there, it will go a long way towards making them into confident, stable and successful adults.

Conversely, if we tear them down, criticize them or place limitations on their mindset about what is possible, we will affect them in an entirely different way.

What will they hear us say today?

Blog Post # 125 – So Much More

We are not a collection of errors.

Mistakes on our part that still cause us shame.

Who we are is not defined by the worst things that we ever did.

We are so much more than that.

Can we choose to dwell in the negative moments in our lives and let them control us?

Of course.

But what does that accomplish?

Other than using our mistakes as motivation to succeed, to improve and to do better the next time, our prior mistakes don’t amount to much.

Spending too much time shaming ourselves for our past mistakes can cause us to isolate.

And when we isolate, we tend to make the mistakes from our past much bigger deals than they need to be.

We end up hating ourselves and unable to let the past go.

Sharing the negative swirl of past mistakes with a trusted friend, loved one or counselor can go a long way towards freeing us up to move on.

If you find yourself bedeviled or overwhelmed by things that you wish that you had not done, tell someone and let it go.

No one wants you to be in pain over your past.

It does you little good and can prevent you from being the person that we all need you to be.

It stymies you from your shine.

Please forgive yourself.

Blog Post # 124 – Working for the Weekend

The noted philosophers known as Loverboy famously said, “everybody’s working for the weekend.”

Sadly, this is true of many people living in America today.

Many folks go to jobs that they hate.

To work for bosses that treat them poorly.

To perform tasks that have little meaning or resonance in their lives.

Certainly, a lot of these folks are just trying to survive.

And this blog post is in no way meant to judge people who work hard in difficult jobs.

But rather, it is an invitation to inquire as to whether you love the job that you have?

The fact is that we spend more time every week with our co-workers than we do with our families.

Should not this time be spent in the best way possible?

Do we love our job?

Does our job invigorate and challenge us?

Does our job give us energy or drain it?

If we are stuck in a job that we hope is not our medium- to long-range future, what steps have we taken recently to transition away from this job?

Spending five out of seven days a week in misery or desperation does nobody any good.

We must ask ourselves, what is holding us back?

We can craft our own future. We can devise a better plan. We can gain new skills to take us from this place that we loathe and to a better situation.

What is holding us back?

What will it take to act?

What can we do today to begin that change?

Blog Post # 123 – Be More Deliberate

Are we lucky?

Or are we good?

Do we have the things that we have because of luck or our hard work?

I asked myself these questions after one of my accountability partners called me out.

We were discussing business development and while we have been successful at bringing in new clients to the firm, he gently offered that perhaps I could be a little more deliberate in my efforts.

My man Kelsey said, “I think you have been lucky. If your luck changes, you could be in trouble. I think you need to be more deliberate in your efforts.”

He also dinged me for a lack of follow through on some of the projects that we started but stalled out when 90% complete.

This was not easy to hear.

But I need to hear and heed his advice.

Too often, we give ourselves too much credit for our successes.

(And probably too much blame for our stumbles).

We tend to think that we have arrived where we are due to the sheer force of our effort.

Of course, life is not that simple.

While we are undeniably blessed, in many instances we could do better.

To work harder. To aim higher. To be more deliberate.

So I will take Kelsey’s comments in stride. Use them as fuel to improve.

Fact is – I can be a lot more deliberate. Stronger on the follow through. Making sure we complete one project before moving on to the next.

The feedback was both accurate and honest.

I will take it to heart and strive to do better.

Because if we continue to be lucky AND are more deliberate, watch out world.

We will be unstoppable.

Blog Post # 122 – So Afraid of

What are you so afraid of?

What is the worst thing that could happen?

What is holding you back?

If you know where the fear comes from, focus on that.

If you are unsure, sit with it in silence, turning it over and thinking it through.

No one ever accomplished something extraordinary by playing it safe.

This kind of life that we are talking about takes risk, courage, tenacity and perseverance.

Know that. Accept that. Swallow that. Stomach that.

And then let it go. Fear and uncertainty will always be with us.

Self-doubt is omnipresent.

Wear it like a shield. Let it be a part of you.

And then do your courageous thing – the thing that only you can do – the thing that we need you to do – despite the fear.

Not much changed since yesterday. The fears you had then are the fears you have now.

But you lost that day. That day is gone.

So for today, acknowledge your fear. Let it sit and watch you from up on your right shoulder.

And then do your important work. Your challenging work. The work that you were meant to do.

If you do this, whatever it is that scares you will be a little less scary tomorrow.

Peace.