Blog Post # 68 – Them

We are good.

They are bad.

Them. Over there. Those people.

The ones who don’t look, sound, speak or smell like us.

Everyone over here with us, we are fine.

It is them. They are the ones causing all of our problems.

Let’s get them.

They are the ones that brought this misery upon us.

We are blameless. We did nothing wrong.

They offended us. Those horrible people on the other side.

They deserve to have bad things happen to them.

We deserve to be happy 100% of the time.

Screw them.

Its us versus them.

Which side are you on, boy, which side are you on?

Wars have been fought over us versus them.

Talk show hosts have gotten rich by tapping into anger over those people who aren’t like us in some meaningless way.

Politicians have been nominated for President of the U.S. by gathering an ever shrinking group of “us” and tapping into anxiety, fear and hatred of “them.”

For those of us who want to build bridges instead of walls, maybe we need to spend more time thinking about a collective “we” and less about us versus them.

We are them.

They are us.

Life is too short and the stakes are too high for us to keep forgetting this.

Blog Post # 67 – Be Still

Be still.

Please, racing mind of mine, be still.

So much activity. So many tasks. So much noise.

Be still.

My brain sometimes pops from place to place.

Do this. Don’t forget this.

Look over here. No look over there.

Ding. “You’ve got mail!” Respond.

Rinse and repeat.

My mind goes one way. My heart goes another. My stomach needs tending to.

Radio. Phone. Facebook. TV. Email. Twitter.

Kids. Spouse. Co-workers. Clients.

Swirling all around. Life is swirling all around.

How to find the space to be still?

Dig deeper. Get inside. Listen to the inner noise.

The intuition. Direction. Discernment.

Safe in the shelter of our inner voice. The stillness.

Like a small cave protecting us from the swirling storm.

Even if only for a few minutes.

The still place. Where we can know our true selves.

Blog Post # 66 – Death and Life

Every day, a life ends.

Every day, another life begins.

Over and over and over, life commences for some and winds down for others.

We come into the Earth kicking and screaming.

On Sunday, I attended the wake for the father of a dear friend.

The sadness and the anguish in the room were palpable.

It cut me deeply, especially given how much time I spend thinking about matters of death and life. Perhaps way too much.

I left that honoring of a life well lived and went to the graduation party for another, younger dear friend.

This friend is pregnant and so thrilled to be welcoming her daughter into the world this fall.

Don’t cue the sappy Circle of Life music. That’s not what I am after with this post.

It just struck me hard watching one friend prepare to bury her father on the same day that my other friend celebrated the achievements in her life and the life of her little girl to be.

Death and life. Flip sides of the same coin.

The energy of life. The spark, the soul, the aura of life.

These are the kinds of things that open me up to the possibility of a Higher Power.

To wonder if there is something more than chance, of random molecules hurtling through the universe.

God bless those who departed today and watch over those who entered today.

We love and celebrate them both.

Blog Post # 65 – 30 Day Challenge

Google’s chief of the company’s spam fighters is named Matt Cutts.

In 2009, Matt made a 30-day challenge.

Importantly, he made it a public 30-day challenge by posting it on his blog – www.mattcutts.com.

He challenged himself to walk at least 10,000 steps every day for 30 days.

While he did not achieve 10,000 steps on each day of the challenge, he did walk 300,000 steps over the course of the 30 days.

He blogged about the results.

Since that time, Matt’s challenges have included:

  • Sleeping 8 hours a day
  • Spending at least 1 hour a day at a treadmill desk
  • Recording 1 second of video every day
  • Staying off social media
  • Practicing the ukulele

Matt believes that repeating something 30 days gets you close to making a habit.  I think he is correct – at least that has been my experience in writing this blog.

When we repeat something that is good for us every day for 30 days, it seems as if our body and mind get into the rhythm of that act.  

This is also true when we subtract a negative routine from our habit each day.

One other way to think about it is that we can do anything for 30 days, no matter how hard it is.

For me, I’ve had success fasting, shooting YouTube videos for work and writing this blog with an approach similar to the 30 day challenge.

Good stuff, Matt Cutts.  Here’s his TED talk on the 30 day challenge.

If you are inclined to take 30 day challenge, I would love to hear about it.

 

Blog Post # 64 – Decide Better

If you aren’t happy, decide to be happy.

If you hate your job, decide to quit.

If you don’t like your lot in life, decide to improve your situation.

A conscious decision always precedes real change.

You are not just an animal controlled by base urges.

You have a mind. Use it.

Next time, stop and reflect before you act.

Make everything a decision.

These next 24 hours are yours. Decide how to spend the time.

If you keep making bad decisions, stop making them.

Decide better.

Something bad happened to you in your past?

Someone treated you unfairly?

Ok. Grieve it, be angry over it, process it.

But at some point, if you don’t decide to move on, it will rule you.

Guaranteed.

So, for today, who are you going to decide to be?

It’s your decision.

Blog Post # 63 – “But I Don’t Want To ….”

“But I don’t want to ….”

Don’t want to change.  To Work.  Or Evolve.  Don’t truly want to improve.

This voice that reveals our reluctance can rule the direction of our days, our weeks, our lives.

The voice of resistance.

It is a small voice.  A voice we listened to as children.

Telling ourselves over and over that we don’t want to do something that we know that we must do in order to improve is harmful.

Destructive, really.

It would be simple to say that we must just ignore the voice and move on.

The better course of action may be to ask ourselves “why don’t I want to?”

And when we hear the answer to that again ask ourselves “why?”

To keep asking why until we get at the root of our resistance.

For me, it usually comes from that anti-Jim place – that place that wants to keep me ordinary, to keep me safe.

Do you believe that you have something to offer the world?

I mean do you really believe that?  Because I believe that I do and I absolutely believe that you do too.

This belief then requires us to challenge our resistance.  To bring our art into the world.  To bring our unique skills and our voice into community so that we may share and grow.

The antidote to a stubborn refusal to act is willingness.  We must first become willing to do this growth work before we can actually do it.

Pray for willingness.  Think about willingness.  Tell yourself that you are willing to become willing.

For when you are willing, opportunities will arise.  New paths will be forged.  You will be free.

 

And we will welcome you and your art with open arms.

 

Blog Post # 62 – Free to Change

We change.

One of the amazing things about human beings is just that – our capacity to change.

We change small things about ourselves every day.

The path we take to work, a new exercise adopted, or a new menu item at our new favorite restaurant.

Sometimes, we make really big changes in our lives.

We move, we decide to marry someone, we quit a job.

These changes can, and do, energize us and bring a level of excitement to our lives that has been missing for some time.

If we have been in a rut, a new change can be exhilarating.

But when we break out of that rut and head off into a new direction, those close to us often have a variety of reactions.

Hopefully, the people who love and care about us share our enthusiasm for the change we are undergoing. If it is a healthy and sensible change, this is often the case.

Not everyone is going to support every change that we decide to make.

Some people feel threatened when we move off the lily pond. They may ask themselves – “what’s wrong with life over here? I thought everything was fine.”

They seem to wonder to themselves – “who is she or he to challenge the status quo?”

They may react to our change in strange ways.

Some folks get angry at our decision and flat out tell us. Others tend to be a bit more passive in their aggression – simply limiting contact, acting like everything is fine but in reality they are upset.

This usually does not stay hidden for long. The friendship changes.

When I was working in Colorado, one of the other workers left and everyone started asking themselves – “why am I still here?” I was gone 2 months later.

I once had another job that I thought was great. One of my co-workers quit and I had to do some introspection to see if I really wanted to stay there. I decided to stay, yet I still supported my departing friend.

Here’s the thing – we cannot control the reaction that our friends and family give us when we decide to make a change. They will, or they will not, support us. Out of our control, no doubt.

When we do make a change, the response that we receive from friends and family is usually a whole lot more about where they are in their life path, rather than the merits of our particular decision.

If they feel threatened by our decision, it is often times because of where they themselves are on their journey.

So, for today, let us feel free to make whatever change that we want to make in the world and let go of the results of others.

We can’t control those reactions and they usually aren’t really about us anyway.

You have our permission. We support you – without reservation. Go for it.

Blog Post # 61 – Sudden Death

Game 7 of a seven-game series.

Nothing else like it in sports.

In order for a Game 7 to occur, the two competing teams must each win three out of the first six games.  Tied 3 games to 3, the two teams meet one final time to decide the winner.

The winning team advances to the next round (or wins the entire competition if it is the championship round).

The losing team goes home to begin thinking about “next year.”

They call it a “sudden death” matchup.

Congratulations to the St. Louis Blues.  Our local hockey team has won both of their playoff series this season by defeating their opponent in Game 7 of the series.

Exciting yet nerve-wracking at the same time.

What if we lived today as if we were playing in our own Game 7?

Putting everything that we have into winning today’s game?

Would our day look different?  Would our effort improve?

Maybe.  Just a little?

What if we knew that if we lost this day, the season was over?

We would undoubtedly fight harder, focus more and do our absolute best.

Here’s the thing: we may be facing our own “sudden death” today and not even know it.

Many deaths are indeed sudden and we never know when our time may come.

So let’s decide to bring our “A” game to everything that we do today.  Hold nothing back.

For if we do, we may indeed become champions.  

The champions of our own lives.

 

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.