Three little words – Choice, Chance, Change

February 10, 2015

“Choice, Chance, Change.  You must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything to change.”  (Unknown) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

How often we dream of things we’d like to do, places we’d like to go or people that we’d like to meet; only to sit and watch those dreams evaporate because we don’t make the choice to the take the chances that are needed to make the dreams come true – to man daydreamingchange things. A dream without a plan to accomplish it is just an idol wish – a waste of the time that it took to dream it in the first place. Choice, Chance, Change.

Maybe you have a dream of a better job; but you can’t make the choice to take the chance, so nothing changes. That job is not likely to come looking for you and maybe it even requires some skills or education that you don’t have yet. The choice then might be to enroll in a community college or a businessmenregular college and take the chance of learning what you need to know to change your life so that you are equipped for that new job. Choice, Chance, Change.

Maybe your dream is to meet Mr./Ms. Right and have a lasting and meaningful relationship, perhaps even marriage. There are TV commercials for sites like that constantly ask why you have not signed up for their service; why you have not made the choice to take the chance that this site and their service will change you r life? Whether you believe in
handshakethose sites and services are not the real questions that they are asking you are about what overt actions you have taken or are willing to take to realize your dream. Choice, Chance, Change.

Many people have the desire to travel, or so they say; yet too many never get away. They claim that they are too busy with work or with family to be able to travel and see the things that they dream of seeing. Many say that they will travel when they get older; while the elderly often lament that they wish they had travels when they were younger and could still participate in the many activities that might be available (there are few geriatric para-sailers). Taking time off and getting away to relax and rejuvenate is an important aspect of our health and most people will never be in better financial positions than they are when they are younger and working. So why don’t we go? Choice, Chance, Change.

At some point in many people’s life they start thinking about less about themselves and more about others; what could they do to help someone else. Sometimes that is forced upon us as we assume caregiver roles; but, many times it is just because we have finallytutoring become at peace with our own life and started to see more of the need around us. Perhaps we have had some cathartic religious moment or maybe we just finally looked up from our own feet and noticed that not everyone has been as fortunate as we have been. Whatever the reason, many people eventually turn to philanthropy and service to others, no matter how small the gifts or efforts. Many look back as ask why they haven’t been dog this all along. Choice, Chance, Change.

So where are you with your dreams? Have you made the choices that you needed to and taken the chances that are required to make the changes that were necessary; or, are you still sitting there dreaming about things? If you at least make the choice to try, then you can at least move on to the planning stage. That will expose the risks (chances) that you must deal with and give you a road map of the changes that are rewardrequired.

An interesting by-product of getting started is that by making choices and taking chances it will change how people perceive you – you will become a doer and not just a watcher; you move from being a fan to being a player and that will make you a whole lot more interesting person to know. You will also find that you have a different and improved self-image. No more will “coulda, woulda, shoulda” define your life; but, rather, “been there, done that and now I’m movin’ on”, will be what you and others see. Choice, Chance, Change.

What’s your choice today?

Be a good traveler, enjoy the journey…

February 9, 2015

“It’s good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”  (Ursala Le Guin), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

At the micro-level of a week, we often start out each week with some goals, some end that we will be journeying towards that week, or at least with a calendar of known and planned events that we intend to participate in that week.  At the end of the week, we might be able to look back with some satisfaction at having accomplished those goals or we might look back and be thankful that we survived the twists and turns that life moral compassthrew at us during that short time period. In either event what we are then looking back upon is the journey that took place during the week.

We might look back on things and, with the luxury of time to more clearly see the decision points on the journey, engage in “Monday morning quarterbacking.” We should have run the ball and not attempted the pass that was intercepted has been a favorite lament lately. That is engaging in the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” syndrome, which is largely a waste of time.

Rather, it is better to look back, if you must, and try to learn from what just transpired. What choices did you have and why did you make the ones that you ended up making? Did those choices end up playing out the way that you envisioned? Would you have made a different choice had you the time to think about it more or maybe thinking hardhave had more information upon which to base a decision? Reflecting on things is one of the more basic ways of learning and increasing your ability to deal with things in the future. It also increases your ability to lay out more clear and realistic goals for the rest of the journey ahead.

Another important point to be more aware of is that all of our journeys have the same endpoint. They all start the same way and end the same way. Some take longer than others to reach the end point, but none  (with one exception) have ever found a way beyond that endpoint.  Having said that, perhaps the goal businessman looking at watchshould be to enjoy the journey as much as possible. Enjoying the journey requires that we take the time to “stop and smell the roses” – to enjoy the people that we meet and the places that we go and the experiences that we have as we go.

Enjoying the journey means waking up each morning and being thankful for the opportunity for another day’s travel. Enjoying the journey means taking the time to stop and really listen to those that we meet, getting to know them, and sharing some stories of each other’s journeys.  Enjoying the journey means looking up from your labors to see the things around you and to appreciate the wonders that are there. Enjoying the journey means reflecting upon the experiences that we have each day, rather than rushing onto the next experience.

So, if you were thankful for the chance for another day’s journey at the start of the day; perhaps you should pause at the end of the day to savior the memories of that day. If man relaxingyou started the day thanking God for giving you another chance to travel on; perhaps you should double back and thank Him for making it memorable. You might also reflect on what you did during the day to make that day better and more memorable for those that you met along the way. Remember that, no matter what you do, the end will be the same. The differences will be found in what you do along the journey.

Did you stop and hold a door open for the next person, or just rush through the door to see what was on the other side? Did you reach into your pocket for some change to give helping handto the poor man sitting on the sidewalk or just shove your hands in your pockets and hurry by him to get to your next appointment? Did you use some of your time to help build or repair a house for another in need or were you too intent on buying more stuff for your own house? At the end of the day, is this how you would want to end your journey?

It’s Monday and you have a whole week’s worth of life’s journey ahead of you. Set some goals for yourself that don’t involve just getting ahead and making more money. Set some goals that have to do with enjoying the journey more and making a positive difference in the lives of those that you meet along the way. Then when Saturday comes along you’ll be able to look back and fondly remember the people, the places and the events of this week’s journey. Have a great week ahead!

Making the turns in life…

February 5, 2015

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.” ― Helen Keller

With all of the snow that we’ve had locally of late, making the turns and getting up the hills while driving has proven to be quite challenging. Life can get like that some times – a little slippery and sometimes dangerous. Sometimes life throws us curves that are hard to make. We may slip off the road and end up in the ditch for a while if we don’t watch out; afraidhowever, those curves are not the end of the road (or of life), just the end of the road (and life) going in the direction that you were used to heading.

Life is more like driving at night and perhaps in a snow storm. You can see ahead a little ways ahead in the beams of your headlights, but not all that far and there are still things lurking off both sides of the road that may jump in front of you at any minute. Few ever see accidents coming – a patch of icy road, a deer running out from the side of the road or cresting a hill and finding a stopped vehicle in front of you. Life can be like that. We just can’t see the things coming that can be sharp bends in the road of life – an illness or death in the family, the unexpected loss of a job or perhaps an unanticipated move for work-related reasons. Things happen. The road bends; but, it’s not the end and it’s how you deal with thoseremorseful turns that will dictate how you feel about life.

One can see life’s changes (bends in the road) as unsettling, dangerous and frightening, or chose to see the change in direction as an exciting adventure to somewhere that you’ve never been to before.  You can have fear or you can have fun. Whichever you choose, there’s no going back. Life doesn’t come with a reverse gear.

So, after you get over the “Oh, Crap; I didn’t see that coming” moment; how do you deal with life’s bends in the road? Do you shut down in fear or do you crank it up in anticipation of the new challenges and/or adventure. Do you get all depressed, or do you get organized and come up with a plan? Do you stop and say to yourself, “I can’t do this”; or, do you swing into action and say, “I won’t let this stop me”?

surrounded by sharksWhile it is impossible to avoid the unknown twists and turns in life or to even see them coming; it is possible to go through life with a positive attitude that better prepares you for dealing with them. You can be better prepared to deal with crises if you have already made the choice to not let FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) rule your life. You may not ever be able to change things or put them back to the way that they were, but you can choose how you will continue to go forward – how soon, how far and in what new direction.

One of the absolute keys to success in dealing with life’s twists and turns is to see them and accept them as such.  Too many people spend too much time in states of denial, rather than taking action – accepting that it happened and planning your response. Once you can look at what has happened and say to yourself, “OK, it happened, what now?”;
women looking at direction signyou are on your way to dealing with whatever it was; and more importantly, to where you are now. If you ran off the road and got off into the ditch, it’s time to pick yourself up, come up with a plan and take some action. Doing something (almost anything) is better than wallowing in the ditch off the road. There’s nothing good in that ditch, just weeds.

OK, so now you’re divorced; what now? OK, so you lost that job; what are you going to do now? OK, the boy (girl) of your dreams turned you down for the dance; what now? Take note that you are still here to ask those questions. It didn’t kill you. Most of life’s curves won’t kill you; they may just cause you some temporary pain. But what choicesnow, what comes next? Do you plan to just lay there in the ditch forever? It’s time to get up and move on. Get back on the road. I wrote a post about Problem Solving 101 last year that may help you get started back down the road. The road will be taking you in a different direction now; so, there are new things to learn, new people to meet, new adventures to live; and, oh yes, more curves ahead.

Have great day on the road of life and watch out for the curves.


The will to succeed…

February 2, 2015

The will to succeed….

The will to succeed…

February 2, 2015

“Winning isn’t everything, Charlie Brown.”  “That’s true, but losing isn’t anything.”  (Linus and Charlie philosophizing) – As seen on the blog Jack’s Winning Words.

I guess it’s no surprise to see quotes about winning and losing the day after the Super Bowl. I watched the first half of that game, but couldn’t stay up for the rest, which apparently turned out to be a very good game. But, in any game like that someone or some team will football helmetemerge the “winner” and the other side will be labeled the “loser.” That’s too bad, since both teams gave it their all and in the process provided some great entertainment for millions of people.

Jack went on to write in his blog – Vince Lombardi didn’t say, “Winning is the only thing!”  He said, “The will to win is the only thing.”  So much emphasis these days is placed on winning or losing in sports or just in the everyday events of life.  Today’s “Vince” might say, “The main thing is the will to succeed!” …and that can happen in winning and also in losing.

That is so true. I have written here before about the benefits of learning from your mistakes or losses in life. In fact, learning how to deal with losses and how to learn and get better from them is one of life’s most important lessons; which, unfortunately, many never learn. Certainly you don’t see the losers cheering and celebrating in their locker room with Champagne. Instead you quite often see bowed heads and tears. As a temporary display of disappointment that is understandable; however, it should not be allowed to descend into attitudes of failure. The effort it took to get to that big game by both teams was and is commendable and should be recognized by everyone, including the players who were not on the winning team. Both teams had and have the will to succeed and that makes everyone on both teams winners.

Do you have the will to win? In everyday life that “will” might manifest itsingle momself in the drive to get up and go to the gym every morning before work (or after work) or it might be the discipline to get that homework done before watching TV or playing a video game. Sometimes it’s just the will not to be beaten down by the trials that life hands you. When I think of the everyday winners that I’ve met or heard about, I think of the many single moms raising a family by themselves and wonder at their will to win, not for themselves so much as for their children.  I also think of the caregivers, especially those caring for a loved one who can no longer even recognize them, but who have the will to continue trying to make their lives safe, secure and as caregiver“normal” as can be. And then there are those who leave the safety and security of this country to travel to foreign lands to help the children there find a place to live and to learn. They have a will to win in the face of overwhelming odds that will carry them through the trials that they face

Most of us will never be on a team in the Super Bowl or chose to take on the challenges of a missionary caregiver; but many will have the opportunity to provide care and comfort to aging parents or perhaps take on the challenges involved in providing foster care for children in need. Some never get to go to foreign lands to help, but work tirelessly here to be able to send things that will help make life better for children there. Whatever the level caregiver handsof service to others that we take on, it is important to have that will to succeed. Sometimes that means taking the time to quietly ask for help in a moment of prayer. There could be no better coach for your team than the One who will answer those prayers. We’re all winners when we play on that team.

Have a great week ahead. Be successful. Help is just a prayer away.

Don’t worry, be grateful…

February 1, 2015

Don’t worry, be grateful….

Don’t worry, be grateful…

February 1, 2015

“My life isn’t perfect, but I am grateful.”  (Unknown) – from a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

One can take this as it is and do a riff on how we should be grateful just to be alive, and I am, by the way. However; one could mentally substitute the word “and” in place of the word “but” and launch off on a whole different take on things, which of course is what I’m going to do.

As I get older the original meaning of this little saying becomes more important to me. Each new day is a gift of more time here with friends and family and the other things (not necessarily possessions) that I have had the time to grow to appreciate.  The extra time alsothinking woman is more enjoyable because I have come to realize that what makes like so interesting and precious is the fact that it’s not perfect and that dealing with those imperfections requires attention, creativity and problem solving skills. Out of the need to deal with the imperfections of life come adventure, excitement, and passion.

Almost everything that happens to us in life somehow involves another human being – someone who did something or didn’t do something that caused a problem or elicits a reaction.  Of course there are calamities (imperfections on a large scale) that are caused not by people, but rather by nature – storms and floods and earthquakes and such. And sometimes the things that we count on in life just break or stop working and that can be an annoying imperfection in life.

However, the real gut-wrenching imperfections tend to involve relationships with other people. Dealing with natural calamities or the happenstance of the stuff around us not arguingworking as it should is at least more straightforward – it is what it is and we have to deal with it. The imperfections that are caused by strained or failed relationships are a bit harder to deal with, mainly because we must have played some role in whatever caused the riff, either through something that we did or didn’t do in our relationship with that other person. There is no way that we can duck the responsibility for having some role in this imperfection, unlike being able to say, “Oh well what are you going to do?” as we can with a major storm or an appliance that has stopped working.

So, how does that make life more interesting and why should you be grateful for those imperfections? It’s because it forces us to get outside ourselves, to acknowledge that we live in a society and not a cave by ourselves. Our world involves more than just meeting our own needs and our needs involve more than just staying alive. We are by nature social animals and like many other animals we seek others with which to share our lives. We don’t call our social connections or “pack”, but the concept is similar. Our inter dependencies with otherscaring in our “pack” are usually focused on more than just hunting and eating and more to do with feelings of self-worth and belonging.

Out of our need for social interaction come the imperfections in life that we must deal with and which keep life interesting. There is inevitable friction in every social “pack” – someone doesn’t like me, someone didn’t invite me to their party, I forgot to send a card to someone, someone is talking about me behind my back and on and on it goes. Sometimes just keeping all of the issues that are involved can be a mental exercise involving more work that solving the Sunday cross word puzzle I the paper. Then figuring out how to deal with these things, and what to say to whom; whether to try to help resolve these differences or just avoid getting in the middle of it is a decision process all of its own. It can keep you on your toes; but it sure isn’t boring and we should be grateful for that.

It is not really surprising when you think about it that “reality” shows have become so popular on TV. Reality is what we are used to living with and some of these shows do a fair job of mirroring the interesting things that we all know go on in real life. They are certainly easier to relate to than many of the drama or comedy shows.  (as entertaining as they may be).  What we supposedly see are real people gong about solving the real, everyday girls huggingproblems that we all might face; albeit many of the situations and people chosen may represent the extremes in life.

Many times in life and we get to the end of a crisis or situation we will say something like, “I’m glad that is over.”  Few of us realize at the time that we might also be glad that whatever it was happened. We survived, we figured it out, we solved the puzzle and because of that we are stronger, wiser and better off. Life is full of imperfections small and large and dealing with them and learning from those experiences is what makes it worth living. And for that I’m grateful.