Blog Post # 272 – Pain of Uncertainty

The pain of not knowing.

Not knowing what comes next.

The pain of uncertainty.

So hard to live without clear answers.

Directionless.

Befuddled.

How do we center ourselves in unclear times?

We need a bedrock.

A foundation.

A way to process new and uncertain information.

We need to remember who we are.

How we got here.

The things that have worked for us in the past are often the things that will carry us through.

We did it before and we can do once more.

When we get confused, we forget ourselves.

We dig in, ready to fight, but we forget where we came from.

For today, let us find a bit of time to examine where we are.

To check in.

To ask whether this new situation is really all that different.

And then we act.

We move.

We take a step towards where we want to be.

Blog Post # 271 – Snapshots & Souvenirs

Take a mental snapshot.

Of the good things that happen today.

Maybe even take a real photograph.

A snapshot of your son or daughter.

A quick selfie.

A mental image of a single moment in your day.

Do not forget today.

Do what you can to stay aware.

Stay awake.

Keep a souvenir of today.

A talisman, a memento, a reminder.

Something, anything so that you do not forget.

Our time on Earth is fleeting.

Made up of moments.

Grab onto something to help you remember.

Do not forget.

Take snapshot, keep a souvenir.

Of this day.

This day right here.

Today.

Eventually, it will be just these memories that remain.

Blog Post # 270 – In Gratitude. Today.

Stop.

Take a breath.

Pause.

Look up.

Look down.

Look around.

Today.

See all that has been given to me.

Embrace it.

Rejoice in all of life’s blessings.

This is my world.

This is my life.

I only get one shot.

Today.

Maybe tomorrow, maybe not.

Be kind.

Be gentle.

With others.

With myself.

Be a positive source in the lights of others.

Strive to improve.

Accept the things I cannot change.

Be still.

Be present.

In gratitude.

Today.

Blog Post # 269 – One Day More

One day more.

“The time is now, the day is here!” – Les Miserables.

What if today is our last day on Earth?

If our time ran out at the stroke of midnight.

How would we act today?

With whom would we connect with?

How would we spend the rest of the day?

You know it might just be.

That might be all we have left.

One day more.

Thinking about death too much can cause problems.

But a healthy understanding of our own mortality should help instill gratitude and a sense of being present.

Even at this relatively young age, I’ve had friends who died pumping gas at Quik Trip, hiking in the mountains, getting crushed under a car.

I have had several friends take their own lives.

So, honestly, you just never know.

For today, let us all take the time to check in briefly with our shadow.

Our mortality.

Of course, we most likely will never know when death comes for us.

But the one thing that we do know for sure is that one day, it will.

Blog Post # 268 – Happy or Right

“Do you want to be happy or right?”

This is a question that I come back to again and again.

When i find myself in conflict with another, I tend to fall back on this question in helping me assess how to proceed.

But not always.

Sometimes, my anger is righteous, vengeful and deep.

So I don’t give a hoot about being happy.

I just want to prove myself “right.”

Some folks go through life wanting to prove that they are right about everything.

Or, most things.

And that may work well for them.

It certainly gets things done.

But I find it helpful to return to this question time and again during conflict.

I sit back and take a quick, deep breath.

And I ask myself whether I would rather be happy or be right.

Every now and then, we may achieve both – being right and being happy.

But far more often, we have to abandon our intention to prove the other wrong in order to be happy.

Stated differently, do we really want to surrender our happiness over this fight?

Do we wish to cede control over our emotions to another?

Is it really worth it?

For at the end of the day, it is our perspective on the dispute that governs how we feel much more than the outcome.

For today, let us not cede control over our happiness to another.

Let us ask ourselves if this fight is worth it.

And to choose happiness over righteousness any chance that we get.

Blog Post # 267 – Lesson from Little Yahya

Last week, I went to a client’s home for dinner in Columbia.

We had a very nice meal of roasted chicken, an Iraqi vermicelli side dish (delicious) and, in a nod to my favorite pizza place, a cheese Shakespeare’s pie.

I got to “break bread” with not one, not two, but three of my Iraqi asylum-seeking clients.

We had an illuminating discussion regarding the current realities in their hometowns of Tikrit, Fallujah and Mosul.

All three of my clients have very real fears of returning home.

The meal, and our discussion, served as a reminder of how our clients often have so much riding on the cases that we handle.

But the highlight of the meal was one other attendee, Yahya.

Yahya, who just turned three on Halloween.

He had a little iPad with a bunch of one-minute kid videos on the device.

One video was about elephants, one about monkeys and one about horses.

Yahya was a master of maneuvering around the various videos and, as each one started, he howled with glee.

“Look …. Look … El-ef-ant!”

“Monkeeeeee”

I tried to get him to use the Arabic words for each of these animals, but he strictly stuck to English.

This went on for at least 45 minutes.

Such unbridled joy.

Such excitement.

Each time that Yahya got another video going, he was ecstatic and said the name of the animal at least three times.

Simply adorable.

Such a gift.

For today, let us find the joy in all things.

Let us find that wonderment that Yahya exhibited all evening long.

And let us be grateful. For all of it.

Blog Post # 266 – Us, Defenders of the Constitution

Strange being in our nation’s capital today.

Preparations are being made for a candidate that I voted against.

Voted against with passion.

I kick myself because I could have done more.

I could have paid more attention.

I could have worked for his opponent.

I could have done a lot more.

Yet, here we are.

In about six weeks, a demagogue will assume the Presidency.

A man who built his campaign on divisiveness.

On waging war against “the other.”

A man who received 2.5 million less votes than his opponent.

A man who has absolutely no clue as to how to run a country.

A buffoon. A delusional, conspiratorial buffoon.

But I don’t have a time machine.

I can’t go back and do more for his opponent.

All I have is our new reality.

So I came to the District of Columbia for the future.

For I anticipate filing lawsuits here to keep the government accountable.

To challenge the coming abuses of power, as well as those that are already occurring.

When I was sworn in today, I promised again to defend the Constitution.

That is what we do when we hold Presidents, bureaucrats and Congress accountable.

We defend the Constitution.

I fear we are going to be very busy.

Blog Post # 265 – The Best Version of Ourselves

The best version of ourselves.

My friend John Fisher says that if we strive to be the best versions of ourselves in every aspect of our lives, we will lead an amazing existence.

I tend to agree.

We need templates like this.

A set of questions to ask ourselves when confronted with a new situation or problem.

A prism to assist us in analyzing new information or stimuli.

It also provides us with a roadmap on how to analyze and reanalyze ….

Our Day.

Our Effort Level.

Our Success.

When confronted with a decision to be made, we usually know which response will lead us to our best selves and which response will not.

Our job is to follow our best selves.

Do what we can to make the right choice.

And then let the chips fall where they may.

This approach may not work in each and every situation.

But it can serve as a powerful talisman for many of our daily dilemmas.

For today, let us strive. Let us ponder. Let us examine.

Let us make good choices.

And move a bit closer to our greatest selves.

Blog Post # 264 – The Opportunities Are Endless

Every failure is an opportunity.

An opportunity to learn.

An opportunity to improve.

An opportunity to know ourselves a little better.

We lose a case? An opportunity to do better the next time.

An election does not go our way? An opportunity to band together with allies and get ready for the next election.

We have a bad day? If we are still breathing the next day, we have the opportunity to make today better.

Sometimes, we have to go through a series of failures before the breakthrough comes.

Seen through this prism, we should remain indefatigable in the face of defeat.

Perseverance is what we are after.

Relentless, dogged pursuit is what we need.

A commitment to overcome will be the only thing that carries us through.

For today, let us view everything as an opportunity.

The obvious opportunities that stand before us.

And the not-so-obvious ones as well.

There is no defeat, no shame, no failure.

Just another opportunity to improve.

Blog Post # 263 – Terminally Unique

We are not alone.

We are not unique.

We are not the only one who is struggling.

One problem with our ego is that we believe we are unique.

Terminally unique.

That only our problems matter.

That only our suffering counts.

This idea that we are the only ones who are suffering leads to great problems.

Although it should not, it allows us to think that we have it the hardest.

That no one else can understand our pain, our struggles.

It makes us less sympathetic when it should produce the opposite effect.

Instead of wallowing in our own self pity, we could use the internal knowledge that we have about our own suffering to see the suffering in others.

That others too are just trying to make it through the day.

Barely holding it together at times.

The fact is that we are not unique.

We are not alone.

We can share what is bothering us.

The conversations that we have inside our brain are not usually very healthy.

Better to share them, give them definitions and boundaries.

This is how we break through those internal tapes that tell us the we have a unique lock on our own brand of suffering.

Get it out and let it out.

Do it today.