What will you do with your opportunities today?

October 16, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come s this tidbit of wisdom – “The world is full of abundance and opportunity.  Too many come with a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel.”  (Ben Sweetland) 

This refers to the preverbal “toe in the water” approach to life and the opportunities that we encounter. Far too many allow their fear of failure prevent them from even trying, when opportunity knocks at their door.  Others may be held back by prejudices or misunderstanding, especially in opportunities that require that we interact with someone who is “different.”

The opportunities to know someone else are abundant for most. Just think about the number of people that you encounter during a normal day. Do you come with a teaspoon to those opportunities or do you embrace them whole-heartedly with a steam shovel, open-arms approach? What are your first thoughts when encountering someone new? Are they questions about who they are, where they come from and what fascinating things you might learn from them? Perhaps they are thoughts of fear or distrust and perhaps even hate, because of how they look? Do you go in the offensive to welcome and greet them or put up your defenses to avoid or put them off?

Each encounter with someone new should be viewed as an opportunity, not a threat. These are people who bring with them memories and knowledge about things that you have not encountered. They have back-stories that can be fascinating. They have opinions and points of view that you may never have considered. They allow you to add their perspective to your view of things. They expand your realm of human experience by sharing theirs. You can’t achieve that with an object, a non-human thing. No matter how fascinating it might seem initially, it cannot share with you. Even a beloved pet provides only a one-sided relationship, as much as we try to give voice to them. Only a relationship with another human is one that may be truly enrich our lives through its sharing.

Can you put aside your fears and prejudices long enough to allow yourself a real opportunity for a relationship with someone new and perhaps different? Opportunities often hold out the chance for rewards, if you take advantage of them. The rewards of friendship, companionship and perhaps even love are there for the taking in your encounters with new people. How you chose to share those opportunities for relationships is up to you. Will you use a teaspoon or bring your steam shovel into the relationship? Are you willing to give the relationship as much as you get from it? A lot depends upon how you approach it. The opportunities are all around you. I suggest that you get out your steam shovel and dig in.

Hi, my name’s Norm and I’m glad to meet you.

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Don’t look for perfection…look instead for the wonderful.

October 15, 2019

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack used this quote from Annette Funicello – “Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.”  I suspect that many don’t remember Annette Funicello, the movie actress and ex-Mousketeer. Annette died from complications of multiple sclerosis after a long battel with the disease. Certainly, her later life was not perfect, but she made the best of it. Many find themselves in situations that are far from perfect. Those who do best in those situations are those who can still find the wonder in life.

I have a feeling that, if life were without problems all of the time it would become boring and much less wonderful. Another of Jack’s recent quotes comes to mind – “Just because a path is difficult doesn’t mean that it’s not rewarding.”  (Danielle Thralow)

In fact, it is in overcoming difficulties and challenges that most people find the most satisfying feelings of being alive. There may be some real, physical reward at the end of a struggle, but just the feeling of accomplishment and victory over the problem is the best reward. For most in their “prime” years, life is too intense to be boring. They work heads-down to make the living that allows them to play hard in their few moments of off time. The demands of job and family life fill each day and seldom give boredom a chance to creep in.

When they retire, it is the dramatic reduction in the daily challenges at work that leave many feeling bored and less useful. Some actually channel the energy that they used to use at work into their retirement hobbies. Many just go back to work, perhaps in some other field than the one that they retired from, or in volunteer work. They crave the challenges and feelings of reward for a job well done. I personally find the thought of sitting around with nothing to do to be completely alien. Therefore, I work at two jobs part-time and do quite a bit of volunteer work.  

Whatever stage in life you are in, it is important to look for the wonderful in life, instead of hanging on the imperfect things. Looking for and finding the wonderful things in your life isn’t that hard, but it does require that you stop for a few moments to stop and look up from your daily routine (some use the word grind) and think about all of the things in your life that you love. Stop and think for a moment about your family, maybe about your home, possibly about your job and certainly about all of the things that God has given you. It may not all be perfect, but it certainly is wonderful, when you really think about it.

Sometimes just taking that pause to wonder at all that you have allows you to stop worrying about things that you don’t have or to let go of things that are not perfect. Ignore the imperfect and look instead upon the wonderful in your life.


Seeing love in your mind’s eye…

October 9, 2019

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack told a wonderful little story that used this quote as it’s headline – “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”  (Shakespeare) Go read Jack’s post.

There is a little phrase that people often use – “in my mind’s eye”. They use it to describe the ability to “see” things in our minds. Athletes use this ability to visualize a shot or a play ahead of it actually happening. Most of us use it to give form to our imaginations and conjure up images of the good or bad things to come. It is interesting that vision is the primary sense that we imagine in our minds and not touch or smell or sounds (although most dreams, which also take place in the mind, involve sounds as well as things that we see).

So, how does one see love in the minds eye? I would submit that is less visual than it sounds and involves the “mental” sensations of various of our senses all at the same time. One does not so much “see” love and they sense it, they experience it. You can watch love (or experience it yourself) as a child (or adult) plays with a new puppy. There is unconditional love coming from the puppy and the new owner is returning that love. You also see it many times with young couples interacting when they think no one is watching (or they don’t care if anyone is watching).

Trying to put the experience of love into words gets complicated. It is a feeling of warmth and safety and surrender and reciprocation and comfort and appreciation that washes over you all at the same time. There are alliterative phrases that have been used by authors, poets and song writers trying to describe this feeling, like “melting into his arms” or “a warm embrace” or “swimming in the pools of her eyes”. Whatever words one chooses to use to describe the feeling of love usually end up describing a very satisfying experience or state of mind.

How do you “see” love in your mind’s eye? What words come to your mind when you think of someone (or something) that you love? Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Imagine how great you would feel is you could love everyone that you meet. That is what Jesus asked us to do in Luke, Mark and Matthew when he stated the Second Great Commandment – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” What a great place to live this world would be if instead of meeting people with judgement or fear or prejudice or hate, we met them with love in our minds. The next time you meet a stranger, trying seeing them with love in your mind’s eye.

Have a great and loving day. I’ll be seeing you.


It is your house…what will you do?

October 7, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote from teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg:

“I want you to act as if your house is on fire.”

It is common wisdom that when threatened most people react one of two ways – flight or fight. The flight response can take many forms – actually running away, lying to yourself and others, or just pretending not to notice. The fight response usually takes the form of some action to deal with the threat.

I would submit that the “house” that Greta alluded to is one that we all live in – the planet Earth – and the threat is not a fire but the effects of climate change. The response of many to this threat has been to ignore it or to create and spread the lie that it is not happening. That is a flight response. It is real. It is happening. Our house is on fire.

The flight response has not worked, nor will it ever work. We must turn and fight this fire in our house. Making that choice can leave you feeling a little like those pictures you see every now and then from California when wild fires are raging. Perhaps you’ve seen the ones with the homeowner standing there with his pathetic little garden hose trying to save his house by himself. It is a feeling of helplessness and being alone in a futile battle. That does not have to be the case.

You are not alone. There are many organizations out there that are rallying support against climate change. Some focus upon trying to get big companies to change their polluting ways; others focus on the political process and back candidates who get it and are committed to making changes to save the planet. Still others primarily focus upon educating the public and changing the mindsets of citizens who are still in flight mode by fighting against the misinformation being spread by the polluters themselves.

It’s time to take a stand and fight! It is your house. It is on fire! What will you do? Flight or fight?

Maybe it’s time to listen to the child – “And a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6 ) – and join Greta in her fight against climate change.


Don’t abuse yourself…Get the help that you need!

October 4, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote –

“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.”  (Jim Rohn)

One of our local Chamber of Commerce members is Nancy McDaniels, who is a personal trainer. Nancy uses a tag line that is similar – “Remember that your body is the only place that you have to live.”

While today’s post title may sound like I’m talking about active self-destructive behavior in which you abuse your body, it is just as much about just letting your body (or mind) go to pot as anything. Doing nothing is a popular option when contemplating following the proper diet and doing the exercise that you should be doing routinely. However, doing nothing is not a benign option; it is a destructive choice that too many people allow to rule their lives. Doing nothing is as abusive as doing obviously harmful things.

The body needs regular exercise to maintain muscle tone and to retain balance and flexibility. Up until he was on his deathbed, my grandfather had a daily morning routine in which he ran through a series of stretching and movement exercises to maintain his body. He lived to be 98. My father did not follow that example and only lived into his mid-70’s. Unfortunately, lately I have been more like my father than my grandfather. I need to get back to a regular routine of exercising.

Sometimes we all need someone else to prod us into doing the things that we should be doing. In the case of your physical health that somebody is often a personal trainer. Just joining a gym or health club isn’t really enough, just like buying an exercise bike for your home isn’t usually successful either. Both are easy to blow off when you have no one to hold you accountable. That’s one of the roles of the personal trainer.

In addition to abusing your body by not exercising regularly, one can abuse themselves mentally by getting down on themselves all the time or allowing themselves to be mentally overwhelmed into a state of depression. Often the root cause of alcoholism this feeling of being overwhelmed and seeing alcohol as the way to feel better. That is not the answer!

I’ve also posted here a few times about the importance of loving yourself – See https://normsmilfordblog.com/2019/02/18/start-your-day-with-love-and-the-rest-will-take-care-of-itself/ or

https://normsmilfordblog.com/2019/04/25/look-within-first/

The point of these posts, and others that I’ve done on that topic, is that you must deal with your own self-image and get comfortable with who you are, in order to keep yourself mentally healthy.  Only then will you really be able to deal with the things that life throws at you that initially may seem to be overwhelming.

The feeling of being overwhelmed can quickly spiral into depression if you can’t deal with it. Depression can be as debilitating as an injury or physical illness.  Dealing with depression requires that you have some ability to identify it and I posted about that.

See – https://normsmilfordblog.com/2016/11/24/what-does-depression-feel-like/

Depression is seldom something that you should try to deal with alone; so, knowing when and how to ask for help is important. Maybe you will be on the other side, providing that help.

See –  https://normsmilfordblog.com/2016/12/12/get-help-give-help/

The take-away from all of this is that one needs to be proactive in managing both their physical and mental health. In both cases, there is positive impact to be had from engaging an outside party as your coach or councilor. Both your physical well being and your mental state can severely impact your body and that really is the only place that you have to live.

Don’t continue to abuse yourself; get the help that you need to keep your mind and body in great shape, whether that is a personal trainer or perhaps a mental health counselor.