Jumping off the hack bandwagon…

June 15, 2019

It seems that everything is a “hack” these days. The use of the term hack is getting a bit hackneyed, i.e.  overused, overworked, overdone, worn out, timeworn, platitudinous, vapid, stale, tired, threadbare. Hack that all you marketing types who can’t think of a better way to say something than to call it a hack.  This morning I even got and email from L.L. Bean with the headline “Camping Hacks”. It was about camping gear and clothing that they sell.

boredWhat the heck is a hack, anyway? If you look up the term hack the definitions tend to center around the original computer terms for illegally gaining entry into a system or program. The more traditional definition of crudely chopping away at something is also there. What’s not there is a definition that covers the current use of the term as somehow representing a new of different way of doing something or using something. Hacks for living seems to be a very modern and inventive way of using the word. It apparently is supposed to be shorthand for describing something that the writer didn’t want to take the time to write out, so it becomes a hack. According to the web site Daily Writing Tips, The term hack, which entered general usage with a new, nontechnological sense of “solution” or “work-around,” as in the phrase “life hack”.

Our language is full of terms that seem to come and go with each new generation. Many of them last only a short time before that are discarded onto the junk heap of misused and overused words. I’m sure that hack has already peaked and is on it’s way out; however, for now, we all have to put up with lazy writers of ads and other material using this convenient term instead of taking the time to write out a complete thought.

I guess I was never on the hack bandwagon, so my headline today is not accurate. I couldman praying describe the type of posts that I normally place here as “life hacks”, but I won’t. They are usually just common sense advice written from a faith-based point of view. I suppose a belief in God is the ultimate life hack, since that is the solution to most of life’s perceived problems.

So hack your day by starting off with a little prayer time with the ultimate life hacker – God. Have a great weekend, fellow hackers!


Make time to reboot yourself…listen for the whisper

June 14, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this little tidbit of wisdom – “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”  (Anne Lamott) Jack’s post went on to explain that re-booting things like computers or smartphones often fixes glitches that develop over time. I’ve certainly noticed that with my own computer and phone. Have you? I’ve noticed that those devices just seem to get overwhelmed or confused sometimes and turning them off and then back on seems to resolve that confusion and allow them to function properly again.

A point that Jack also made was that we all need to make time to reboot ourselves – toinsight take time away from the demands of day to day life, to let our minds settle and to get a fresh start. That is easier said than done in today’s 24/7 world, where we seem to always be booked with something that “we have to do”. Weekends, which used to be times to relax, are now times of constant activities. We have golf tee times or a tennis court reserved; we have to get out on the boat; we have children in sports or dance or other competitive activities. If there is not a weekend tournament, there is practice to get to or something that we need to go buy “for the team”.  We don’t have time for church on Sunday morning because that’s when the big tournament is or that’s when the team could get ice time at the rink. It’s go, go, go all weekend long. Some even welcome Mondays, so that they can get back to the comfort of work.

Then there is the influence of technology on our lives. When we have a moment, we phone with msgspend it staring down at our phone to see what might be going on that we missed. We schedule our lives there in our calendar apps and our lives are chronicled and shared there on the various social media that we use. It seems so important to us that we also check to see what others are doing and sharing about their lives that we have little time left for anything else.

Yet, we need to make time to unplug from this world, to reboot ourselves. Maybe you are the type of person who will have to put this time into your calendar in order to actuallywoman-praying do it; maybe not. One good way to make that time and use that time is to set aside a short period for prayer each day. Starting each day with some prayer time is a good way to do that; but, it can be any time during the day.

Why use that time for prayer? Because it forces us to stop and step back from the world for a few minutes and acknowledge something that is bigger and more important than anything else going on in your life at the moment. It provides some perspective on things and it allows the calming and clearing of the mind. It allows you to reboot. Just taking time for that quiet little prayer that I like to use – “Not my will; but, thy will be done” – seems to work wonders for me.

listenThere is a little plaque on our kitchen wall that says, “Take time for quiet moments, for the world is loud and God whispers.” You really need to make time for those quiet moments in your life, so that you can listen for the whispers of God in your life. Don’t worry; everything else in life will wait for you to reboot. Have a peaceful weekend and find time to listen for the whisper.


Always carry a spare smile…

June 12, 2019

In today’s post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack Freed shared this thought from Dolly Parton – “If you see someone without a smile, give ‘em yours.” Jack went on to Dolly PArtonwrite that recent studies have shown that people are less happy today than they were in the 1990’s. Although he didn’t mention why that is true, he did echo Dolly’s advice about taking the time to listen to those that you encounter during the day and sharing a smile where needed.

As a society, we have become a bit more introverted and insular. I blame the rise of the smartphone for at least some of that. We have allowed ourselves to be captivated andcouple-looking-at-phones captured by a device that steals time away from everything else, including our interactions with other human beings. Me may not even notice the frown or sadness on the face of those that we encounter because we are too busy looking at our phones. We certainly don’t take the time to ask what is wrong, and since we can’t Google that, we just move on to the next attention grabber that shows up on our screen.

So, perhaps the first step to all of us getting better and having smiles would be to put this-is-medown those smartphones and take a good look at what is going on around us. Step two might be to make sure that we put a smile on our own face. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can share love with others (see the post Start your day with love and the rest will take care of itself). So take a moment, before you set out on your day, to find that love of self and who you are that will put a smile on your face. Many times that may involve taking time for a short prayer of thanks to God for another day. Acknowledging and accepting the love of God each day allows you to also love yourself and then to be ready to share that love with others.

Back to the thought of the day about sharing a smile. In order to share your smile you need to do a little more than just smile at someone, although that helps, too. Perhaps your smile is the icebreaker that allows you to ask, “How are you doing?” or even “Is there something troubling you that I might be able to help with?” That might be being kind 1awkward with a total stranger, but many of the people that you encounter won’t be total strangers. Finding a way to initiate a conversation will allow you to find out what may be troubling them. Even if you can’t really do anything to help in the situation; just giving them an outlet to talk about whatever it is that is troubling them will help. You can be empathetic and supportive, even if you can’t solve the problem. Sometimes they may just need a shoulder to cry on or a good hug of reassurance.

So, always carry a spare smile and be ready to share it with others who might need it today. You have more and they need the one on your face more than you do, right now. smiling-sunPut away your smartphone and look around you for those who might need to borrow your smile. When you find them and give them your smile, you’ll find that God immediately puts another smile on your face so you can continue His work in the world.

Share a smile today!

At least stop to consider…

June 11, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this bit of advice – “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”  (Harper Lee)

I’m glad that Harper Lee used the word “consider”; rather than “see”, because it is both literally and figuratively impossible for us to see things from another person’s point of view. We all “see” and interpret the things that we see through the filters of preconditioning, prejudices and prior knowledge. Unless we stop and make the conscious effort to consider what we are seeing differently, we run on autopilot and let those filters direct our thinking about what we are seeing/hearing/experiencing.

Sometimes the filters that interpret our experiences set us on high alert. We are fearful or wary without really understanding why. Sometimes our preconditioning leads judge thingsus to be judgmental without any supporting evidence that would lead to that conclusion. Perhaps we are dismissive of a suggestion or a person, not because we have any real reason to be, but just because…

This rush to judgement, or fear, or whatever the reaction, can be particularly true when meeting people. Our eye allow us to “see” what kind of person they are, without even arroganttalking to them. We check their clothes their appearance and their demeanor before we are even within hearing distance. If we see signs that alarm us, we immediately rush to judgement and become fearful, defensive or worse. In many cases that means that an opportunity to meet someone that is really quite interesting and worth knowing is lost before it gets a chance.

So, it is worthwhile to stop and think about Harper Lee’s advice as we go through the day. In the Buddhist world there are terms for this – it is called mindfulness or awareness. Unfortunately, most of us go through the day blissfully unaware of the filters that are controlling our encounters with others. We may become aware that weworried1 are a bit frightened by or not at ease with someone, but we don’t stop to consider why that reaction has overcome us.

Perhaps in our minds an encounter with someone immediately conjures up words or thoughts or reactions that flood our minds. But why? Stop and consider that first and maybe you’ll take the next step, which is realizing that those initial reactions have no basis in what is happening now and are just preconceptions and prejudices at work in your mind.

You will never be able to understand the perspective that the other person has on life or no judgementthe reasons behind why they choose to dress or act like they do; however, you can understand and control how you react to them and how they appear to you. You can decide not to let the filters of prejudices and preconception color your view of them. You can decide not to rush to a judgement before you’ve even had time to interact with them.

At least stop to consider as your day goes on and see if your perspective on things doesn’t change for the better. You might be surprised how many interesting people you cansmiling-sun meet that way. You might also begin to appreciate how much richer your view of the world becomes once you remove the filters through which you have been viewing it. Have a wonderfully rich ad non-judgmental day.

I’d laugh if I wasn’t too busy crying

June 5, 2019

From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this quote – …“The world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel.”  (Horace Walpole)

The world has become much too scary a place recently to laugh at, especially right here in the United States. With the loss of civility in our country has come the return of the tragedy-and-comedyWild Wild West mentality that seeks to resolve issue with guns and mayhem. Unfortunately, as a nation we have a long history of bowing to corporate and other special interest groups until it is too late and people have died. We bought into the message through much of the 20th Century that Dupont and other chemical companies could bring us “Better living through chemistry”. We now know that they brought us almost indestructible cancer causing chemicals and pesticides.

Certainly the pharmaceutical industry, the automotive industry and many other industries have always put the interests of profit above our safety and have lobbied our politicians successfully to look the other way and ignore us, too. Perhaps no lobbying group has been more successful at preventing or delaying changes that would help make us safer that the gun lobby. Even in the face of multiple mass shootings year after year, the NRA has been successful in blocking any and almost all attempts to limit access to and ownership of weapons that have no purpose other than to wreak havoc. The thought of a hunter stalking a deer through the forest with his semi-automatic assault weapon, so that he can unload a full banana clip into the hapless animal is ridiculous; yet the NRA continues to defend the sporting nature of ownership of assault weapons.

I won’t even start on the circus that is going on in Washington. Both thinking and feeling people have to be crying at that mess. Fortunately, we have another opportunity in 2020 to correct some of that and perhaps return to at least a sane approach to the governing ofclown car our country. Until then, the nightly news will continue to be a litany of mass shootings and goofiness, prejudice and hatefulness from the clowns in Washington.

Until changes occur to return a semblance of sanity and civility to our country, there is a tendency to just hunker down and wait things out. That is not the right thing to do. There are many needs at local levels, from helping people recover from severe weather events to doing what you can to aid those in needs of food and shelter in your area. You may not be able to fix things at the national or world level, but you can reach out and touch those at your local level who need help. If enough people did that, things would start to change at the higher levels, too.

So, turn off the TV news. You know that it’s going to have stories about some mass shooting somewhere or some stupid thing that those in Washington just did. Instead, sewrving souppick up your local paper and see what groups are asking for volunteers to help distribute food or to provide shelter or perhaps to offer help and counseling to troubled youth. Find a role and a place to help someone else. You may still have a need to cry, when you see how big the need is; but, you’ll end up smiling at the end of the day that you helped fulfill that need.

Yes, the world is not a funny place; but it needn’t all be a tragedy either – you can make a difference in your little patch of the world. Just do it!


Let that child out to play again…

June 4, 2019

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this post –

“We speak of educating children.  Do we know that our children also educate us?”  (Lydia  Sigourney)  Jack went on to write – Yes, children can be teachers, too.  Sometimes we seem to forget what it’s like to be a child…how to be carefree, and not to worry so much about tomorrow…how to forgive and not hold grudges…how to be creative.

I’ve written here before about the inner child that is still there within us and the value of looking within and find that child again.

As we grow up our inner child is more and more confined and pushed down in our opinionatedminds by the rules that we are taught about how we are to act, if we want to be an adult; although I’m not sure why we ever thought that was such a great idea.

Slowly our carefree lifestyle is replaced by one of worries and responsibilities, many of bored2them imagined or self-imposed. The companionship and  camaraderie of play is replaced by the competition and stress of career advancement, making a living and getting ahead. Selfishness replaces sharing and anger and revenge displace forgiveness in our lives. Our imagination is replace by ambition and drive.

Yet, somewhere in the back of your mind, hiding perhaps in the little corners of your memory, that inner child still lurks, wishing that he/she could come out and play again.

Perhaps there is an apex in life where the drive to “act like an adult” peaks and we start back down the other side of the bell curve towards that innocence of childhood again. smell-the-rosesThe revelation that we don’t have to “act your age” can come at any time in life. It occurs when we stop taking everything so seriously and “stop to smell the roses” – to just enjoy being alive.

Faith can play a big role in getting back to an innocent, inner-child state of mind, because faith allows you to off-load those adult concerns and pressures to God by woman-prayingsaying “not my will, but thy will be done.” Once you have arrived at that point, the next step towards, “Let’s go play”, comes much easier, happiness comes much easier, listening toi music.pngcontentment comes much easier. God would much rather see us having fun and playing than being worried and serious all of the time.

So, get right with God and give him your worries and concerns; then, go find that inner child that is still within you and play again.  God will be smiling as He watches you play.

You must persist..

June 1, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “Press on.  Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”  (Ray Kroc)

I was recently asked, during the introduction to a talk that I was to give, what the secret to my success is. My answer was “patience and perseverance”. I suppose that this answer equates to persistence. It is all too easy in life just to give up on things; to get discouragednever give up and admit defeat. Having been in sales and marketing positions most of my adult life, I know a thing or two about rejection or someone saying “no”. There are tons of books on sales and how to deal with objections, and the one constant in all of them is the need to be persistent.

Those who let the first rejection or failure stop them will never be successful. It is important to stop and analyze what just happened to lead to that rejection and to learn from it and make changes for the next attempt. Nothing is more of a waste of time than doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. That is not persistence; that is the definition of insanity.

As a Realtor, I have had many opportunities to demonstrate persistence. I had one listing for three years before it sold. I had to be persistent in both my efforts to sell it and my efforts to get the owner to reduce the price to a reasonable level. I’ve also had buyer clients for multiple years. Often I would get buyers who had expectations about what they wanted that did not match their ability to pay. In those cases being persistent in both the search and in my efforts to educate them on what they could and should expect to buy eventually paid off in a sale. I’ve also had many cases where the clients were not as persistent or as patient as I and they usually ended up leaving and going with some other Realtor. Many of those impatient clients later told me that they ended up doing what I was advising them to do while they were with me.

We must all persist and press on in life. The alternative is a one-way trip down a dead-end street. Persistence is not about continuing to try to solve the unsolvable problem; it comfort-zoneis about rethinking the problem and moving around it or putting it behind you. Go under, over or around it; but, don’t let that seemingly unsolvable problem stop you. Most of the time the problem exists mainly in our heads, due to our inability to accept something that has happened (a failure , a death the end to a relationship) and move on. Dwelling on something is not persistence, it is resistance. That resistance results in stress; stress born out of anger and futility. Allowing that stress in your life results in many health issues, both physical and mental.

So, resolve today to persist in life without wasting your time resisting against that, which let-go-1has already happened. Learn from yesterday and then let it go. Press on! Take a goo look at the picture and that eh advice that is embedded therein.