Love is like the Bird of Paradise…

March 15, 2018

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “The Bird of Paradise alights upon the hand that does not grasp.”  (John Berry)

Jack went on to explain that the Bird of Paradise is an actual bird, a very beautiful bird,Bird of PAradise in Indonesia and thought by many to be the first bird that God created in the Garden of Eden. To see such a bird is rare and to actually have one alight upon your hand even more rare.

It occurred to me that the quote could also apply to love. Just as the Bird of Paradise goes not wish to be grasped and possessed; love is something meant to be shared not grasp and held onto like a possession. I have heard of more than one relationship failing because one of the parties became “too possessive”, too “graspy”.

It is a fault of our human nature that we want to possess things and sometimes even to Controllingpossess people. We want them to be “ours” and ours alone. What we don’t understand is that love is a feeling that must be shared and not possessed. Saying I love you to someone does not carry with it “I own you”; but, sometimes people imply that into the relationship. Those relationships are doomed to fail. Love is something that is at the same time shared and earned in return.

One earns love in relationship through kindness, gentleness, consideration, attentiveness, loyalty and many other things that are all oriented towards giving in the relationship. Freedom is one of those things. You cannot earn the love of another by holding them captive as if they were a possession. Most often the possessor’s own insecurities and fears drive possessive behavior. Rather than show love towards the partner to earn their love in return; these insecure partners try to grasp them instead and hold them hostage.  We use terms like manipulative, domineering or controlling for men and clingy, manipulative and high-maintenance for the women in these possessive relationships. No matter what we call it, they are grasping for love.

Often these possessive relationships remain intact long enough to evolve into domesticgirl crying violence situations. It is often the case that domestic violence is driven as much by the need to control the other person as from any other reason. Once all other techniques of control fail, the possessive person is left with physical violence or threats as a mechanism of control. Domestic violence becomes the final spiral towards oblivion of a long failed relationship.

So, what is the take away from all of this? It is that love, like the Bird of Paradise, lights on the open hand of trust in a relationship. You love someone and hope that they love you back. There are things that you can do to earn that love in return andholdiing love in hand there are things that you could do that would cause love (and the Bird of Paradise) to fly away by being too possessive. Love cannot be grasped it can only be shared and it must be shared freely and without constraints. Just as the Bird of Paradise is beautiful to behold, love is a beautiful things to see and feel and even touch, but it cannot be grasped and possessed.

Share a loving day with your partner with an open hand and an open heart.

Where will you spend the rest of your life?

March 14, 2018

“My interest is in the future, because I’m going to be spending the rest of my life there.”   (Charles Kettering) – from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about Kettering, who was an inventor and a bit of a futurist.

Where do your interests lie? Are you stuck in the past, reminiscing about or lamenting over things that have happened in your past? Some things that we may have experienced are so strong (the word traumatic is often used) that we find it hard to put them behind us and move on. That happens a lot with soldiers who’ve been involved in wars. The term “post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS)” was invented to explain and label thisdepression 6 condition. PTSS is a leading cause of suicides among soldiers returning from prolonged or repeated duty in war zones.

In the past there was not a convenient terms to use to describe people suffering from the debilitating effect s of war; so, people often talked of someone being “shell shocked” or used the term “the fog of war” to describe their behavior. However it was described, it was (and is) a condition that does not allow the person to function normally in the present, due to the memories of overwhelming events in their past. People who’ve been through natural catastrophes such as tornadoes or floods may experience a similar impact on their lives. Sometimes the death of a loved one has a similar impact.

I’m sure that psychologists and psychiatrists have lots of ways to both explain and attempt to treat PTSS. Some cases seem to be fairly mild and involve mainly becoming mentally stuck in the era of the events. I know of a few Viet Nam era vets who still walk around in their bush hats and camouflage clothing and love nothing more than talking about where they were “back in the day.” They haven’t been able to let go of that experience and move on.

depression 5Perhaps you haven’t been through anything in life as traumatizing as deployment into a war zone; however, we all have had events in our lives that were (at the time anyway) somewhat traumatizing. Those “how can I go on” moments helped shape our lives. For most there was the “ah ha” realization that, as bad as it seemed at the time; it didn’t kill us and we made it through the event. Perhaps the pain was real or maybe just deeply emotional; but we survived and life went on. It is our ability to compartmentalize and rationalize things that happen to us that helps us get through them and go on with life.

For many, it is the ability to turn to their faith to see them through life’s tough moments that makes all of the difference. One of the hallmarks of PTSS is a feeling of loneliness; of thinking that no one understands you and what you’ve been through. It is in those moments of loneliness that one’s faith in God’s assurances can make the most difference.helping hands

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

You are never alone. God is always right there with you. He got you through the trauma and He is pointing your towards your future. Wouldn’t you rather spend the rest of your life there, in the future, rather than dwelling on the past? Don’t look back. Let go of your past and walk with God into your future.

Where will you spend the rest of your life? Look to God and see your future.

Don’t hold your breath…give back

March 13, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this little yoga saying – “When you inhale you are taking the strength from God.  When you exhale it represents the service you are giving to the world.”  Jack went on to write that we should all stop and, recognizing our breathing, contemplate our relationship with God.

But, don’t hold your breath. As you are thinking about God, think also about exhaling and giving back in service to the world. That can initially be a rather overwhelmingworries thing to contemplate, with thoughts of “What can I do? I’m just one little person” or maybe “I have no skills to help the world.” The fact is that your time and willingness to help are the only things that you need to get started making a difference in the world. Don’t hold your breath.

Maybe, like most you don’t see or know about the needs that are right in your own back yard. The fact is that the world around you is brimming with unfulfilled needs. There are people who need food prepared for them or delivered to them. There are millions of people who cannot function on a day-to-day basis without someone’s helping uphelp. There are children who are too hungry to learn in school. There are thousands in hospitals and nursing homes that long for someone to talk with. There are caregivers struggling to to get through each day without anyone to relieved them. There are families trying to deal with hardships or losses with no one to turn to for help or counseling. Don’t hold your breath.

Perhaps your challenge (excuse) is that you don’t know how to find those in need and how to get started helping. There are many organizations in every community in the country that exist to help people in need and those organizations always, always need help from volunteers willing to do the work. Those organizations can provide you with the opportunities to jump in and do what is needed. That is really the key – to be willing to do what is needed. Not everyone gets toseerving others stand on the food line serving the food when the TV cameras show up. There are many people in the background doing tasks like preparing the food or washing the dishes. Those are often thankless tasks, but essential to the process. Often, when I volunteer for something, I’ll ask, “What’s the job that nobody wants to do?” Then that’s the job I ask for. In church event’s that’s usually set-up and tear-down or perhaps washing dishes. Don’t hold your breath.

So, as you sit there in whatever pose you are holding in your yoga class, contemplate God with the breath that you took in and then focus on how you can help in your community with the breath that you ae about to exhale. Don’t hold your breath…the needs are too great and there’s a job waiting for you to serve your community. Now exhale and get out there. Don’t hold your breath.

Where are you coming from?

March 7, 2018

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this little quote – “So much of who we are is where we have been.”  (William Langewiesche)

Jack went on to write about places that he’d been and to opine that what is more important in shaping us as humans are the other people that we have interacted with and the books that we may have read.

If you look at the little quote from a metaphorical point of view, perhaps a better way to state it is, “So much of who we are is where we’re coming from.” That point of view encompasses everything that is in our background – the places that we’ve been, the people that we’ve met and the things that we have done. Understanding where someone is coming from is important when you are trying to figure out how to deal with them or the situation that you find yourself in with them. It’s that old saw about trying to put yourself in their shoes or see things through their eyes. Where are you coming from?

Sometimes it may be helpful for one to pause and consider where you are coming from as you try to deal with issues in life. It is hard not to let your past dictate your futurebored actions, unless you become more conscious of the impact that the past has on shaping your thinking. Do you reflexively mistrust others because of a bad incident in your past? Does fear based upon some old prejudice drive your reaction? Do you find it hard to allow yourself to love someone because of a bad relationship earlier in your life? Do you get down on yourself because you have experienced criticism and scorn in the past, perhaps even from your parents? Where are you coming from?

Lots of things in our past dwell in our thoughts as we face the issues and decisions of each day. Recognizing that the immediate thought that pops into your head may be an old prejudice or fear that really shouldn’t apply to the situation at hand can at least give you the opportunity to take a different direction. If nothing else, taking the time to have a second thought on the situation may give you the opportunity to break out of the knee-jerk reaction that your past might conjure up. Take time to think about –Where are you coming from?

Keeping that little phrase at hand also allows us moderate our response to others. handshakeInstead of lashing back at some unkind remark, perhaps we might ask, “Where’s that coming from?” and try to understand what is driving the other person to make that remark. Maybe they are just having a delayed reaction to something that they thought you did or they might be acting on bad information. In any event, before we respond in any way we need to better understand the answer to the question, “Where are you coming from?”

Perhaps, just as important is understanding where we are coming from each day. One way to establish a great starting point each day is to begin it with a little prayer. man prayingBeginning each day re-centered on your faith give you a great place to be coming from all day long. You can certainly choose any prayer that you wish that makes you feel good about your faith. I’ve posted here often that I like to start with a very short prayer that gets me in the right frame of mind – “Not my will but Thy will be done.”  I know for the rest of that day where I’m coming from. How about you?

Where are you coming from?

Choose to be kind this week…

March 5, 2018

“Choose to be kind over being right every time.”  (Richard Carlson)

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about the Mr. Know-it-all syndrome that some people exhibit. Unfortunately, that hits too close to home for me, as my wife often calls me out on.  I really have to work on not jumping in to arrogantcorrect some factual error (at least in my opinion) that I think may have just been made in something that is said. Sometimes (probably most of the time) it is better to just let things go, even if you know that what was just said is not correct. Be kind this week.

One way to look at things is to just say to yourself that what was just said is what the person who said it believes and messing around with beliefs is usually a losing cause. Perhaps it was their opinion about something; and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It is surely a mistake to jump in with a correction on anything that may be political or religious, since those are two areas that are very personal and difficult to argue. Just say to yourself, “I don’t agree with your opinion or judge thingsview on things, but that’s OK.” Don’t say that out loud, unless you are just spoiling for an argument. Be kind this week.

Rather than trying to assert the “right” (from your perspective) opinion into the conversation, be kind and try to understand the other person’s point of view or at least honor his/her right to that opinion. One can be kind without being condescending and one can be kind without surrendering their own position or opinion. Be kind this week.

Another good trait to develop is being able to admit when you were, in fact, wrong on some opinion or “fact” that you held a strong belief about. Sometimes additional information or event prove the position that you held to be wrong and rather than cling stubbornstubbornly to a disproved position, it is much better to admit your mistake and move on by embracing the new “truth” of the matter. Perhaps now you will be better able to understand the position that others held all along, which you considered “wrong-headed” until now. You will probably also realize that, had you chosen to be kind rather than right in your position, you would now be in a much better position. Be kind this week.

So, choose to greet others ready to accept and understand, rather than ready to correct. Try to understand things from their perspective rather than forcing them to see it from disagreement2yours.  Maybe there is no right and wrong, just two wrongs that will get you nowhere. Life does not have to become as dysfunctional as our current political system, where everything is judged using a far-right or far-left litmus test. There is a win-win middle ground were different opinions and perspectives may be valued for providing diversity to the conversation and where the truth is somewhere in the middle or, perhaps, somewhere else altogether. Be kind this week.

When you hear someone say something that you would normally try to correct; rather than blurt out, “You’re wrong”, try “How interesting of you to say that”, or perhaps reply, “I hadn’t thought of that view of things.” You may be pleasantly surprised at the conversations that follow. Be kind this week.

Say something nice to somebody today…

March 1, 2018

From the blog Jack’s Winning Words comes this quote of the day – “Why do we have to wait for special moments to say nice things or tell people we care about them?”  (Randy Milholland)

Jack went on to tell a little of Randy’s life success story because someone took the time to say something to him in his youth.

I believe that there is also a benefit to you if you take the time to say something nice to someone – it makes you feel better, too. Taking the time, making that effort to think of handshakesomething nice to say to someone puts you in a positive frame of mind, because you are being positive and not just finding fault with that person. It can be something as small as “your hair looks great today” or maybe just “you look great today”. You’ll probably get a smile and maybe a reply and it will usually be positive, which helps reinforce the positive vibe that you were on when you made the comment.

The second positive thing from doing this is that it puts you “out there”. By making the comment, you reached out from your protective shell and touched someone else in his or her shell. If you get a response, you have the beginning of a conversation and perhaps a relationship building moment. Humans are really all about interacting with other humans and it can be very lonely if you never take the opportunity to interact. Even if you just a get a fleeting, “Thanks”, from the person as they scurry away, you tried and they did acknowledge you. Perhaps the next time that you meet, they’ll have more time and they’ll remember that you’re the one who said something nice to them.

this-is-meAnother side-benefit of making the effort to say something nice is that it will usually put a smile on your face, which may be a pleasant change from your normal “at rest” face. It is quite natural that most people’s faces droop a bit into what might be interpreted as a frown by others. You aren’t really unhappy or trying to frown and probably don’t realize that your “at rest” face doesn’t look inviting or friendly. By conscientiously preparing to say something nice you will reflexively put a little smile on your face, which will be a pleasant change for those that you meet.

So, go out there today prepared to say something nice to those that you meet. You will make it a much more pleasant day for them and I think you’ll find that you have a much more pleasant day, too. Bye the way; you look great today; have you been losing weight; is that a new hair style for you; where did you get that great outfit? I feel better already. How about you?