Don’t imprison yourself…

November 12, 2019

In a post to his blog recently, Jack Freed used this quote from Lady Gaga – “Fame is prison” He went on to relate that Gaga can no longer enjoy life in public because she is always hounded by fans or paparazzi. In a sense, her fame has served to imprison her.  Almost all starts come to that conclusion, once they have achieved the fame that they so fervently chased for years. Some have found that going out in disguise, especially in big cities like New York, is still possible.

Most of us will never be famous, so we need not worry about the problems that Lady Gaga and other stars have; however, many create a prison of sorts for themselves based upon just the opposite cause – anonymity. Being anonymous is especially easy if your move to a new town or area. It is also relatively easy to become anonymous if you are a shut in. Over time, people forget about you and you may start to forget about other people. You have imprisoned yourself, somewhat by choice.

People with whom I talk who volunteer for the Meal on Wheels program that delivers meals to shut-in senior citizens tell me that the recipients often talk their heads off during the delivery, because the Meals on Wheels person may be the only person that they ever see. That is sad, but not unusual and not limited to just those shut-in seniors.

Many people, of any age, imprison themselves by remaining anonymous in their communities. They may get out of the house to go to work and back, but never seem to have time to meet anyone local. In this modern age of air-conditioned houses and lawn services to mow the lawn, it may even be rare to see them outside. That sometimes leads to the stories that we see on the news about a person dying and their bodies not being discovered for days or weeks. They were anonymous and thus not missed.

It is easier than you think to end your anonymity, without flipping over to the problem that Lady Gaga pointed out. You don’t have to become famous, you just have to be engaged in your community. Going to church is a great start. Church people tend to be friendly and you will quickly make new friends. Volunteer in the community. There are also tons of volunteer opportunities in every community – things like driving for Meal on Wheels or perhaps serving as a docent in a local museum. Join local organizations. All communities have local chapters of clubs like Rotary International, the Lions Club, the local Chamber of Commerce (you can be an associate member, even if you don’t have a business), the local society for the arts, and many more. Find a club or organization that focuses upon something that you are interested in, join and get involved. Many clubs or organizations may have members who are willing to pick you up and drive you to and from meetings, so even “shut-ins” can participate.

All of those ideas and more require that you not only join whatever organization it is; but also, that you attend meetings, volunteer for events and otherwise commit your time and efforts to the organization. The side benefit is that you meet other people and you are no longer anonymous. You have freed yourself from that prison.

The bottom line is that you hold the key to the prison of anonymity that you may have built for yourself. Get yourself out there and meet people. Have a great day in the crowd.


Sleepless in Seattle and elsewhere…

November 9, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog had this advice – “Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.”  (Philip Dick) 

Good advice, but hard to implement. I had a recent night of fitful sleep as I tried to search for the solution to an upcoming matter. During that process, I also recalled this advice and started thinking about what it is that keeps me, and perhaps others, up at night in search of solutions. While I occasionally spend a restless night trying to solve problems involving things (perhaps a repair issue with the house or a problem with a car), more often than not the matters that really keep me up at night involve people. That is especially true in situations where I imagine that a confrontation of some sort will occur.

I don’t think anyone likes confrontations, but sometimes they are unavoidable. I recall several sleepless nights leading up to the firing of an employee. All sorts of things run through my mind as I played out scenario after scenario in my imagination about the upcoming confrontation. In the times in which we live , there are some pretty bizarre scenarios that are not out of the question and I ran through each of them. One can conjure up the same kind of anxiety and fear (and sleepless nights) for breakups of relationships. What will you say and how will they react? Play that out in your mind a few times and you will begin to see the endless possibilities. There are many examples of the kinds of matters that can take over our minds at night and keep us awake.

I do not claim to have discovered or invented a way to prevent this from happening. However, I have developed a technique for quieting my mind when this does happen. Unfortunately, it usually takes me a while to remember to use the technique, so I still spend some time wrestling with the imaginary demons of the night before I try to quiet my mind.

The first step is to realize what you are doing. You are trying to create a solution for something that hasn’t happen yet and which is most likely out of your ability to control (unless avoidance is seen as a solution). I also try to quickly think back on similar past events, which helps me realize that I got through them OK. Perhaps they were unpleasant; but, as I now like to remind myself, “nobody died”. Sometimes that is enough to pause the mental problem solving process long enough to go to step two.

Step two I have shared here a few times. It is the leap of faith that starts by saying the little prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” It is giving yourself a break, by giving the problem to God. If you feel the need to keep more ownership of the problem then pray for God’s guidance and help dealing with it, and put your trust in the fact that His help will be there when you need it.

Step two sounds simplistic, but it works, if you have faith in God. In our real world we may take issues all the way to the Supreme Court – the highest level of authority in our land. In the world of faith, which we cannot see or fully understand, God is the highest level of authority, so taking it to Him is as far as you can go. Trusting in His help is what we call faith and as Bob Dylan said in his song Precious Angel – “Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t neutral ground”.

So, have faith. Give your problem to God.

Problem solved. Now go to sleep.


What is your goal today?

November 5, 2019

In a world seemingly oriented to goal setting and daily To-Do lists that seem to dictate our use of time, Dyer’s advice seems to be most appropriate. In fact, if you threw away your current To-Do list and just wrote down “Be a better person today than I used to be”, you will have recorded the most important thing that you could spend your time on today. It is a goal, which will help you accomplish all of the important things that you need to do today.

Some people find that it is helpful to wear a little bracelet with the initial WWJD – What Would Jesus Do – as a reminder to them to be a better person. You could have one that says WSID – What Should I Do – that would be just as effective, if it reminded you to be a better person.

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be.”  (Wayne Dyer)

One way to focus upon that goal is to stop and say a quick little prayer – “Lord, help me be a better person today than I was yesterday.” Your mind will take over from there, as God puts thoughts in it about how you can accomplish that goal today. You may see things and people that you overlooked yesterday and you will react differently. You may make better decisions today, because you are more conscious of the need to think things through better and perhaps apply better standards against those decisions. Your personal relationships may improve because today you take the time for a warm greeting or a hug; whereas, yesterday you just hurried on by that person.

A side-benefit of focusing upon being a better person is that you won’t end up with a case of the coulda, woulda shoulda’s at the end of the day. There will be no need to say to yourself, “I coulda said ‘Hi’ to Sally, who looked like she needed a greeting”; or “ I wish I woulda ask Mary how her mom is doing “; or I coulda stopped and ask Joe how is wife is doing with her breast cancer treatments”. You won’t have those regrets at the end f the day because you did stop and interact with those people. You were being a better person today than you might have been yesterday. And, didn’t that fee great?

So, after you’ve checked yourself in the mirror; but, before you go out the door on the way to work; stop and say that little prayer – “Lord, help me be a better person today than I was yesterday.”

I promise you that you’ll end up better than your were at the end of thre day.


Show your love with actions –

November 3, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more.”  (Kin Hubbard)

When we are young, it seems to be even harder not to grab for more, more, more. I remember as a youth sitting there trying to eat all that I had taken at dinnertime and my mom’s admonition that my eye’s were bigger than my stomach. I can also recall going to those “all-you-can-eat” smorgasbord places and gorging myself. Eventually, my stomach became bigger than my eyes, but that’s a story for another post. I did become more able to moderate things as I grew older and that helped get rid of most of the bigger gut.

I suppose it’s quite natural for the young to lack any sense of moderation, much less be ready to make conscious efforts of sacrifice. Sharing is something that needs to be taught to young children and begins the learning about moderation and sacrifice in life. Later, and often in church, the young are taught to give a portion of what they have to help those less fortunate than them. So, perhaps today’s quote could be modified to read, “The hardest thing is to keep less when you can give more”.

We have just kicked off our stewardship drive at my church, which is our annual church donations appeal. This is certainly one of those things to which my modified quote could be applied. Each year we get a little card that shows us what percentage of our income we should consider giving to the church. It also highlights the concept of tithing, giving 10% of what you earn to the church. That’s where most people have the hardest time keeping less and giving more. Yet, there are people who do that and who find that they get along just fine on the 90% that they keep. In fact, many say they’ve never been happier or felt like they had more than when they giver that 10% back to God first.

I can’t claim to be there yet, but as I consider how much I can increase my giving to the church this year, I find it less difficult to keep a little less and more fulfilling to find a way to give a little more. God has provided for my family and me and I have become less focused upon what more I can get in life and more concerned about what more I can do for others in life. Giving to the church is just one channel through which we can all give back and help others. Volunteering with various non-profit groups in the community is another.

Find a way in your life to keep less and give more, even if it is only of your time. I think you’ll find life to be much more satisfying at the end of the day (or of life) when you spend more time giving than taking. The bible tells us –

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18

Feel the Love of God, take action and give generously of your possessions and your time.