Keep the dream alive; maybe some day…

November 11, 2015

 “I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?”  (Eve Merriam) –  seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog on Veterans Day, 2015.

The dream of a world at peace, with no wars anywhere, has been just that – a dream – pretty much throughout history. Ever since mankind developed a sense of possession – what’s mine and what you claim is yours – there have been wars that arise from one trying to take something from another. Many have tried to glorify wars as having noble causes, as defending honor or country, as somehow being glorious; but the truth, as General Sherman put it, is that all wars are hell.

remember vetsOn this Veterans Day and every day we should pause to remember those who sacrificed all in the many wars that America has fought. Most did not choose to go off to war, but they went when they were called upon to serve. There was no glory in the wars; but, a few were fought for truly noble causes; and there was bravery and honor and sacrifice by all who served in them.

One can argue forever about the worth of wars or the justifications (moral or otherwise) for going to war, but on Veterans Day there is no argument that those who went to wars in serviced to their country deserve to be recognized and honored, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. So, today take a moment at a Veterans Day ceremony or at a veterans’ memorial or cometary or maybe just in a quiet corner of your home, and say a little prayer of thanks for those who answered the call to serve their country in times of war.  Someday maybe that little girl’s question will become reality, but we are not yet there.

As a Viet Nam Veteran I plan on attending the dedication ceremony later this morning in our little Village for the new Fallen Warrior Memorial  in Central Park. It will bring back memories that I’ve long since forgotten and some of which I’d rather forget altogether; but, it will also cause a swell of pride inside that I answered the call and went away to war for my country. I was lucky. I came back., Many did not and for them I will pray today.

Speed when needed: but, think when required….

November 9, 2015

“NOW is the time.  The universe likes SPEED.  Don’t delay, second-guess or doubt.  When the opportunity is there…ACT!”  (Joe Vitale) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I remember that there was a “Speed Kills” ad campaign some time back that had to do with behavior on the highways and speeding drivers. I also recall the advice that manufacturing Quality Control people give about speed exposing waste in manufacturing processes. As I get older time seems to pass more quickly and we certainly live in a time and a world where everything is expected “right now.”

man rushingWe are all faced with split-second decisions from time to time, sometimes in some form of an emergency. We read or hear all the time about “heroes” who didn’t stop to think about the situation that they found themselves in; but, rather, rushed in to help in an emergency – maybe rushing into save someone from a burning building or pulling them from a burning car.

For most of us life does not present those types of heroic quick decisions; however, we are faced all day long with split-second decisions about how to act or react to things going on around us. Do we join in the bullying that others are engaged in against a classmate or do we jump in to stop it? Do we react in kind to a harsh or hurtful remark or stop to consider a more measured and positive response? Do we turn towards someone who needs help and ask how we can do somethingthinking woman
or do we turn away and hope that they just go away? Those are all quick decisions that we make every day.

Taking the advice in Vitale’s quote doesn’t mean that we act instantaneously, without thought; but rather that we not
dither and end up in “coulda.woulda, shoulda” mode later. A guilty conscious is, as often as not, one that is lamenting something left undone; some decision not made; some opportunity that has passed us by. So, in that context, Vitale’s advice is sound – ACT NOW! Make a decision.

I think that a good part of being decisive in life is having a good moral basis for your life to begin with. A strong and ever-present sense of right and wrong gives you the ability to make quicker decisions. Certainly the quick “right or wrong” test of any decision is one that should be made, along with the “dangerous or safe” analysis of the situation. Just right wrong scaleusing those four criteria gives you a head start on a quick decision. If it’s right and safe that’s pretty much a no-brainer – go for it. Things that might be right but dangerous might require a bit more thought and things that are
wrong and dangerous should just be avoided. Things that are wrong but safe can sometimes be confusing; but one should always ask why I would do something that I know is wrong just because I don’t think it’s dangerous – it’s still wrong.

So go ahead and speed through life making decisions quickly as you go; however, before you go out each day check your moral compass to make sure that it is pointing you in the right direction. Keep your personal “right/wrong scale” in the forefront of your decision- making and you’ll be able to speed through the day. That will allow you to ACT Now; without acting up.

Have a great and speedy week ahead!

Let the Light reign in your life…

November 8, 2015

“Darkness dwells within even the best of us. In the worst of us, darkness not only dwells but reigns.”  – Dean Koontz

girl cryingOne could substitute the word “evil” in Koontz’s quote and it would ring as true.  We certainly see and hear about enough things in the daily news to acknowledge that there exist those in who darkness or evil reigns. It is easy sometimes to be draw towards that dark side and to have dark thoughts or reactions in response to that news. Sometimes we succumb  to the darkness and it reigns in our lives.  Better, I think to heed the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. when dealing with darkness –

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

But, where do you turn to find the light and the love to combat darkness and hate? Since it is Sunday, I’ve got a suggestion – try going to church. If there is any place on earth that darkness cannot abide it is in the sanctuary of a church. There, whether in the midst of a crowd or sitting (or kneeling) by yourself, you come face to face with the one meLight that darkness cannot overcome.  You come in contact with the one Love that surpasses all understanding and forgives all sins. Hate cannot stand against the force of that Love.

When the famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he replied – “Because that’s where the money is.” One might use the same logic to answer the question why go to church, “Because that’s where God is.” Sure, it’s possible to find God outside of the church, but it makes the job all that much easier if you go to His house. Darkness lives under rocks and in deep recesses and avoids the light. Faith comes from above and is the LIGHT.  Let faith in and the darkness and hate will no longer reign in your life’s journey. Church is a good place to look for the light.

“Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.”  – from Lumen Fidei – The first encyclical of Pope Francis.

So, faith does not vanquish all darkness from our lives, but it does allow us to proceed without tripping over things in the darkness. It does allow us to see a way out of the darkness and to see a future that, for some, the darkness of depression tries to rob. Yes, we may still experience hurtful things and pain and fear and losses – things that beckonhand reaching for heaven us into the darkness – but, if we keep our faith burning we will always be able to see the way back to the light. Some darkness may remain in your life, but it will not reign in your life. Let the Light in and give Him the reins of your life.

Have a great Sunday. Maybe I’ll see you in church or maybe I’ll just notice your light shining off in the distance.

Growing pains…

November 5, 2015

mother and childI remember that, when I was a child, any time that I had some unexplained pain with no apparent cause my mom would say that I was just experiencing growing pains and that the pain would go away soon. She was usually right and that advice saved lots of unneeded trips to the doctor. I still get unexplained pains from time to time, but now at the other end of life’s cycle it is hard to explain them away as growing pains. They are just “getting old” pains, I guess.

Many of life’s “growing pains” actually involve not physical pains, but emotional ones. These are the pains of disappointments or failed relationships; sometimes the pain of dealing with hurtful comments or actions and sometimes the pain of leaving behind destructive relationships that didn’t work out the way that one had hoped. Yes, they all hurt; but, we live through the pain and come out the other side divorcebetter off. We have “grown” emotionally and intellectually by adding to our experience base. Once we get to the place where we can look back upon the experience with a little less emotion we are able to see our own errors and make mental notes for the future on things to avoid or things to do differently. We had some growing pains.

While growing pains are most common in the young, they are really with us all of our lives. As we age and learn, we may make fewer mistakes that come back to cause us pain. Maybe we become a little more cautious, hopefully without becoming cynical, about relationships. Perhaps we become more realistic about “changing him (or her)” before we get into a relationship with someone with noticeable faults. Maybe, as we become more comfortable with whom we are, we are less inclined to blame ourselves for things that the other person does or says. Maybe we learn to love ourselves first and then are better listening to musicable to love others. We’ve been through some growing pains.

That last little bit above is one of the keys to a happy life. You must learn to love yourself. You must be comfortable being alone with yourself and not need constant reassurance of your worth from others.  I know people, and you may know some too, who just cannot stand to be alone. They really don’t like themselves and need to have others around all the time. That’s a shame, because we spend all of our lives with ourselves and share but a few moments with others. For some, even sharing those few moments is really hard. It’s a real conundrum for those people – they cannot stand to be alone, but they do not trust enough to let others in. For them having others around all the time provides the crowd into which they feel safe just disappearing. For them life is full of growing pains.

So, the next time you experience some growing pains in your life, take the time to reflect on what just happened;women dreaming be happy that, while it may have hurt at the time, it didn’t kill you.  You’re still standing and the pain is subsiding. Make a memory out of it and learn from that memory. Promise yourself that you won’t make that same mistake again, but don’t let the memory of that pain harden you against the future emotional risks of realtionships. Life is full of those opportunities most of them work out great but a few turn out to be just growing pains.

Momma was right; the pain goes away; the key is to keep growing. Have a great day!

Spread the smiles today…

November 3, 2015

“A word or a smile is often enough to put fresh life in a despondent soul.”  (St Therese of Lisieux)

St ThereseWe can’t all be Saints, but most of us could try to emulate St. Terese of Lisieux, who believed in responding to the problems and people of the world with a smile and an attitude that said, “How can I help?”  Most often her solution was to pray for the people that she encountered or who needed help and apparently those prayers worked many times.

We all encounter people during the day who look distressed or unhappy. Many times our inclination is to turn away, to avoid eye contact and hope that they go away. How much more helpful it would be if we took St. Thereis’ advice and instead put a smile on our faces and speak to them.

Maybe you don’t feel like you have the time to devote to the answer if you ask, “Is anything wrong? Can I help you?” After all you have places to go and people to see; things to do and tasks to be accomplished. You don’t have time for a conversation with this person or to deal with whatever issuescaring are troubling them. Maybe you don’t have time NOT to do that.

Take a moment to reflect on what it would be like if you were hurting from a loss or an emotional trauma of some sort and no one would even look at you, much less offer to help by just listening to your story. How lonely you would be: how worthless you would feel. If you can feel that in yourself; then, recognize it in others. Be the one who stops and asks and then takes the time to listen.

Sometimes there is little that you can do but to smile and listen; to commiserate and reassure; to say it will be alright, even if you can’t figure out how. Many times that is enough to put that fresh life in a despondent soul. Sometimes a hug and a stroke on the hair of the person in need is better than band aids and pills that doctors might dispense.

caregiver handsWhen you stop and think about it, is there anything else that you might have had planned to do today that is more important than reaching out to help someone else in need? Somehow I doubt it. And for that person that you helped, you were the most important person in their life today; you were their hero. How much more important than that could you wish for?

Now, maybe you won’t have an encounter like that which was described above; maybe you’ll just pass a few people who were in a down mood until they saw the smile on your face and that had a positive impact on them, too. Maybe your smile got passed on to a few of them and then they passed it on again, until soon 20-30 people were sharing your smile. What a great contribution you’ve made that day.smiling girl Perhaps you’ll need to get a bit of it back later in the day, if you’ve encountered some difficulty. If you see someone else smiling, and that helps you; take a moment to see if you recognize that smile; maybe it was yours coming back to help you.

Have a great day and week ahead and spread the smiles. And, if you get the chance; strop and ask someone in need if you can help them.