Blog Post # 358 – Keep Calm

The value of worrying.

Worrying about things never make them better.

Last night, we had predictions of tornadoes, hail, pestilence and plagues.

Nothing happened.

Just a small reminder that 50% of the time that we worry about things, they never come to fruition.

Not to say that we should not be prepared.

But we must keep things in perspective.

Many friends on Facebook were freaking out before the storm.

The storm which never occurred.

Keep calm.

Calm because the storm may never come.

Storms will come and go.

And it is good to anticipate them.

But we cannot be ruled by fear.

Cannot spend tons of time and energy worrying about what may happen.

For today, let us be present in the moment.

To set aside our fears.

To live with our fears in check.

And let the future take its course.

For the sun, as they say, will come out tomorrow.

Blog Post # 357 – Sort of

Sort of.

We work hard.

Sort of.

We stay off our phones and pay attention to our family.

Sort of.

We exercise because we like it.

Sort of.

Sort of is an out.

An escape and an excuse.

For not reaching our full potential.

Sort of is a cop out.

It lets us feel as if we are almost there.

Almost is a far cry from arriving.

Sort of holds us back.

We should demand full accountability from ourselves.

An honest assessment of where we are at.

Squishy goals yield squishy outcomes.

Sort of is the pathway to squishy.

For today, let us listen to our words and our thoughts.

Are we settling for sort of?

If so, let us push back against our almost goals.

Sort of makes sense, no?

Blog Post # 356 – The Future That Liberals Want

This photo was recently taken on a New York subway.

The man who took the photo, an immigrant from Guinea, is Boubah Barry.

Boubah posted the photo to Instagram as a show of the diversity of life in NYC.

A conservative website then shared the photo with the caption “this is the future that liberals want.”

The predictable social media firestorm ensued.

Liberals piled on with funny tweets about the future that liberals really want.

Conservatives plied their outrage as usual.

The photo is, in fact, a testament to what makes America great.

If I were a woman, I would not choose to wear niqab.

Nor would I consider going out on a subway in drag.

But that’s the point.

One person wants to wear niqab. In America, they can choose to do so.

The other person wants to head out on the street in drag. In America, they too can choose to do so.

It’s not for me to say who should wear what when out in public.

More importantly, it’s not for the government to say.

Instructive too is the fact that this photo sparked such online outrage.

At this moment in America, emotions are high and nerves are raw.

Seems like every moment that there is something to be angry about.

Hopefully, we will all calm down a bit.

Less hyperbole, more dialogue.

To that end, a new podcast called With Friends Like These tries to share difficult conversations.

Trump voters talking to a liberal podcast host.

An African American journalist discussing why he is tired of always being white folks’ “one black friend.”

Check it out.

And maybe we can build a future that everyone can be (relatively) happy with.

Blog Post # 355 – Save Us From The True Believers

God, please save us from the zealots.

The true believers.

Those who think that their interpretation of a Higher Power is 100% infallible.

Those who believe that their side is always right and the other side is always wrong.

Who lack the ability to spot the gray areas.

The nuance.

The idea that there is something else to learn.

We can find zealots on all aspects of the political spectrum.

In each and every religion.

The world is not black and white.

We all have something to learn.

With access to infinite information sources, all of us can find websites, forums and Facebook groups that reinforce our idea that we are right and THEY are wrong.

This can feed the zealotry.

Zealots can be easy to spot.

They talk more than they listen.

They refuse to concede that their position might be flawed in any way, no matter how minor.

They obsess on proving that they are right.

For today, let us release our own zealotry.

To open our mind a little.

To the fact that we might be wrong.

Or that our position can change.

This is a much freer place.

And provide us a confidence not based on absolutes and devotion.

But rather based upon thoughtful reflection and an open mind.

Blog Post # 354 – You Deserve a Break Today

Respite.

We all need to take breaks.

To relax.

To exercise.

A slight change to our routine can boost our energy and focus tremendously.

We cannot run, run, run, run.

Well, we can, but how effective will we be?

Stephen Covey called it sharpening the saw.

Recharging the batteries.

Taking a break.

We need that down time.

If we don’t give ourselves that space to relax and refocus, we can burn a whole lot of effort for not much gain.

And we have talked previously about how two hours of focused work can be much more effective than six hours of grinding.

Grinding doesn’t do us much good at all.

For today, let us give ourselves permission to take a break.

And to open our mind to an alternative path through this day.

We deserve it.

Blog Post # 353 – Sitting With Discomfort

When we feel uncomfortable, we often wish to end that discomfort as quickly as possible.

Much of modern life is built around the idea that we should be comfortable as much as possible.

The world of information in our smart phone.

Air conditioning, swimming pools, spas and grocery stores stacked to the shelves.

The idea of going without or failing to satiate our desires seems unfathomable to many.

This makes it harder to adjust to uncomfortable situations that much harder.

Are we soft? Perhaps.

But even if we are not, our lives are infinitely easier than the lives that our grandparents lived.

And this is okay.

It is just a fact.

There is, however, value in hardship.

In struggle.

It makes us stronger.

It builds our strength.

It gets us ready for the next hardship.

We are not advocating toughness for the sake of toughness.

But instead, consider sitting for just a bit in our discomfort.

Instead of rushing away from it.

Feeling the feelings of things being amiss.

Not to wallow, but to learn.

To appreciate how much more often that our lives are easier.

To learn empathy to those who struggle with similar situations.

It is hard to not want to run away from our pain.

But if we just spend a little time sitting with it, we can learn a lot.

Much more than when times are easy.

For today, let us sit with the discomfort of our day.

Instead of running away from it, to just sit with it and observe.

Plenty of time for escape later.

Blog Post # 352 – Grateful

Oxygen.

Water.

Food.

Shelter.

Sunshine.

Rain.

Heat.

Connection.

Spouse.

Children.

Parents.

Siblings.

Friendship.

Playtime.

Work.

Honesty.

Depth.

Awareness.

Passion.

Impact.

Persistence.

Technology.

Flights.

Motion.

Sport.

Peace.

Empathy.

Rest.

Grateful.

Blog Post # 351 – Breaking the Bubble

They call this the bubble.

Surrounding ourselves with friends who think and look like us.

Reading news sources that support our world view.

Ignoring those that do not.

After November’s presidential election, a lot of soul-searching occurred in the left.

Much of it focused on the bubble.

Friends immediately swung into action by reaching out to Trump supporters.

To try and listen to why they voted for Mr. Trump.

The sentiment is understandable.

And the desire to get perspective from “the other side” makes sense.

But should Democrats spend their time figuring out why people voted against Hillary and for the Donald?

Perhaps.

But perhaps not.

Instead, Democrats might be better off focusing on the 40% of the American electorate who decided to stay home.

To ask whether it was Hillary’s bungled campaign and flaws as a candidate that brought about the loss in the electoral college.

After all, even with all of her baggage, the Democratic candidate received more than 3 million votes that the Republican candidate.

Donald and the Republicans won’t have Hillary to kick around in 2020.

And when the next election comes around, the Donald will have a record to be analyzed.

It is much easier to run against something than it is to run for something.

The Democratic electorate seems engaged in a way that it has not been since Barack Obama first ran for President.

We progressives need to focus on moving forward and getting our message of helping people and standing up for working women and men out there.

To break through all bubbles.

And to get to work.

Keep going.

Blog Post # 350 – The Ties That Bind

The ties that bind.

Our family provides us the ties that bind.

Those close to us give us strength to keep going.

To keep striving.

The time that we spend together, the lives that we live together.

These are what are important.

When we struggle, we need to channel the energy of those that love us.

To focus on that.

To push out the negative.

To remember the love of the ties that bind.

This can push us through.

To improve.

To soar.

To challenge ourselves to greatness.

No one cares about us more than our family.

And family does not necessarily mean those who brought us into the world.

Family can be those that surround us.

We know in our heart who these champions for us truly are.

Lean on them.

Consult them.

Listen to them.

Channel their strength.

Channel their faith.

For today, let us remember those who helped get us to this moment.

Those who help us be our best.

And use that strength to leap ahead.

To greatness.

Blog Post # 349 – His Name Was Srinu

Last week, a white man, identified by authorities as Adam Purinton, walked into a crowded bar in a suburb of Kansas City.

According to witnesses, the man said “get out of my country.”

He pulled out his gun.

The white American allegedly then shot two natives of India.

One was injured, the other died.

The shooter ended the violent assault by shooting a white American man who tried to intervene.

Later, Purinton showed up at an Applebee’s for drinks.

He reportedly told witnesses that he needed a place to hide because he had “killed a couple of Middle Eastern men.”

The dead man’s name was Srinivas Kuchibhotla.

People who loved him called him Srinu.

He was 32 years old.

Srinu worked at Garmin, the company that makes map and tracking software.

He graduated from the University of Texas in El Paso in 2007 with a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Srinu was married and was making his way in America.

His wife, Sunayana Dumala, later said that the shooter “has taken a life, a very lovable soul, from everyone.”

Sunayana had reportedly been feeling uncomfortable with a lot of the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from Washington DC and had even asked her husband prior to the killing whether they “belonged” in America.

After his death, she asked for government officials to explain how senseless murders like this could be prevented.

Srinu’s name might sound unfamiliar to American ears.

His skin color might not have been white.

He may have had an accent.

His religion may not have been Christian.

Presumably, he was not a U.S. citizen, but was probably on his path there.

Most importantly, Srinu was a human being.

Someone with dreams, aspirations, goals and a life.

Just his one and only life.

Many questions need to be asked about this senseless murder.

Possible connections made.

Did the hateful lies and anti-immigrant rhetoric of our President contribute to this?

Did blind racism contributed to this?

It seems that the idea that this country somehow belonged to Adam Purinton and not to Srinu contributed to this.

Perhaps the ease of obtaining handguns in this country contributed to this.

Tie these things together and maybe this is what you get.

Can we draw a clear line from this senseless murder to the dangerous rhetoric of the alt-right, Steve Bannon and their hero, Donald Trump?

Perhaps.

Doesn’t take much to see how the hate spewed on Fox News might have had such an effect on those susceptible to hate.

But we will have to wait until the investigation and the alleged terrorist killer’s trial to know these things for sure.

We can only imagine how Fox News would have reacted if it was a brown immigrant who walked into a bar and shot three people in Kansas City.

But of course, in America, white people can’t be considered terrorists.

It has been a tough week in Missouri when it comes to race and hate.

On the other side of the state, those under the spell of hate knocked down over 100 headstones in a historically Jewish cemetery.

Hate.  Hate.  Hate.

But in a beautiful show of solidarity, people of every faith and background showed up later in the week to help clean up the cemetery and to pray for those who lived there.

All of that is little consolation to Srinu’s family.

For unlike a gravestone which can be repaired and set aright, there’s no way to take the bullets out of Srinu.

His body is headed back to India.

For his own private burial.

Rest in peace.