Are you aware?

January 22, 2022

I am inspired today to ask the question above by a quote that I’ve been saving for some time – “Let us not go back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” (James Thurber)

It seems to me that way too many people are spending their time being angry about things that have already happened and which are in the past or they are fearful of the future without just cause. Perhaps they have based where they are going upon something that they saw on the Internet or something that they heard from someone else. If, in either case, they did not take the time to become aware of the source and veracity of that “information”, then they may be headed off in fear or anger in the wrong direction.

What does awareness mean? I think it at least means that one takes the time to think about and question things that they hear, see, or read before accepting them and acting upon them. We all need to ask questions like, “What is the source of this information?” or “What proof is there that this information is correct and accurate?” The phrase, “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true” is both laughable and yet prevalent in today’s world of misinformation, conspiracy theories and outright lies.

Unfortunately, the source that most use for their news and information about what is happening in the world is also the biggest source of bad information – the Internet.  It’s a shame is that so much of that bad information is purposely planted there by people to cause the resulting confusion or anger or both. The real shame is that it works all too often.

The second major source of bad or suspect information is politically biased coverage on so-called news shows. The influence of the political views of both the right and left are evident in the choice of words that both sides use in their newscasts to re[port on events. Awareness of that bias towards either side will help one correctly assess the news content from the political views of the presenters. The weather portion of the news shows is about the only part that has not been highly politicized, except for comments sometimes thrown in on global warming.

So, approach each new day with an open but questioning mind and awareness that you need to evaluate everything that you hear, see, or read before allowing it to influence your reaction or direction. Instead of starting a conversation with the phrase “everyone knows”; start the conversation with, “here’s what I believe”, because you have taken the time to evaluate things and to form your own opinion. Just being in a state of mind to question and evaluate first will make you a more aware person and probably a more interesting one, too.

Go around in awareness.


Being silent on things that matter…

January 18, 2022

It is the day after Martin Luther King, Jr day and for many that means time to forget and move on with life. Yet King’s words in this quote still resonate today – “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

There was much consternation and condemnation of some Republican politicians who used King’s words in Tweets or other pronouncements yesterday, while at the same time voting against the voting rights act now before the Senate. Yet not all Republican Senators may be against strengthening voting rights in the face of some changes in voting laws in several states – they just chose to stay silent on the matter. Remember them.

I have a yard sign that I put out in the summer months that has this quote from Dr. King – “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” While the quote does not specifically say anything about political lives, perhaps it should. A politician who is so consumed with remaining in power that he/she will compromise their integrity and the trust that was placed in them by not taking a stand on this issue should see their political lives end. Remember them.

I am not solely advocating for the current wording on this bill, but for the ability of all politicians to seek compromise in order to further the intent of the bill – that all people be allowed to vote. We do not see that in today’s political environment, where the two sides dig in to hardened positions on most issues and lob insults at each other. These are people who choose to fight rather than to seek compromise and they are on both sides of the aisle. Remember them.

I think the important message to get across to members of both parties is that we chose them to create laws in the best interest of all of the people and not to adhere to the extreme positions of radicals on either side. If they are unable to stand up to the pressures of extremists within their own parties, then they are unable to put our collective interests before their own. Remember them.

It is telling that efforts by the leadership of either group in Congress towards compromise for the common good are attacked by extremists members of their own party. It is also telling that those attacks most often result in the gesture towards compromise being withdrawn and positions are allowed to harden into stalemates. Remember them.

We have the opportunity to change all of this when we vote on the serving members of Congress. We have an obligation to look at the performance of the people running for reelection from both parties and determine what their position on important events has been and whether or not they made those positions known or decided to stay silent on things that mattered. Remember them.


Follow the Pooh…

January 15, 2022

Cartoonists quite often dispense sage advice through the voices of their characters. Such is the case today when we are told –

“I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been.”  (Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne))

Often in life we arrive mentally at a place that we really don’t like or in which we would rather not be. That is when the advice of Winnie the Pooh should be headed – just walk away from it. Leave it behind. Get to where you are going.

Maybe you have arrived at a place of sadness, caused by the loss of a loved one. Maybe you have just broken up with someone that you thought you loved. Perhaps you just lost a job or didn’t get a promotion that you thought that you deserved. It could be that you made your best effort at some pursuit in life or in sports but fell short of your goal. Whatever the reason that you have arrived at a bad place mentally, it is important to walk away from there and towards where you want to be.

Perhaps the words of another quote that I saw recently will help –

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.  (Steve Maraboli)

It is important to have that cathartic cry, to give in for the moment to the emotion. It is also critical to forgive yourself (see my post https://normsmilfordblog.com/2021/08/12/forgive-yourself/) if you think the mistake was yours. Then, it is just as important to turn the moment into a learning time, to glean from the event knowledge that will help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Finally, it is important to join Pooh in walking away from where you are and towards where you want to be.

The imagery of your tears (that good cry) watering and nurturing your future is a powerful way to let go of that past place and head towards a new and happier place.

So go ahead and let it out. Get it out. Then take a moment to forgive yourself and create a little bit of knowledge from the situation and move on. Walk away from where you have been. Get to where you are going.

Have a great weekend. Follow the Pooh.


You don’t have time to bore yourself…

January 13, 2022

Two quotes from dramatically different source just seem to go together to provide some good advice.

“Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves?” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

“The trouble is you think you have time.”  (Buddha)

Every now and then one meets a person that we might label as a “free spirit” – a person who is doing what they want in life, seemingly indifferent to what someone else might think of them. Have you met people like that? Were you somewhat envious of them? You don’t have time to bore yourself.

Most of us tend to limit ourselves in the things that we try or the people that we meet for reasons of fear or maybe fear of what others might think of us. In the end we may well become very boring people, boring even ourselves. You don’t have time to bore yourself.

A big part of that problem for most is that, like Budda said, we think we have time. We tell ourselves that we’ll get around to doing things someday in the future. The trouble is that the “someday” never comes and we may settle into a safe, if somewhat boring, lifestyle. You don’t have time to bore yourself.

The truth is that we don’t have time. Life is finite and the things that one puts off today will likely forever reside in the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda bin.  Don’t let the opportunities for something new turn into regrets for things not tried. You don’t have time to bore yourself.

Now, I’m not advocating for doing stupid or inherently dangerous things; rather that you stop letting the fear of what others might think of you if you try something or putting off trying new things or meeting new people because you say to yourself that you’ll get around to that later. There’s a good chance that the things that you put off or that person that you pass up meeting, will not be there in the future. Don’t pass up opportunities like that. You don’t have time to bore yourself.

You don’t have to be a “free spirit” to try new things in life; however, you might find that your spirit feels freer when you stop limiting the new things that you try out of unfounded fears or concerns for how trying them night appear to others. There is no time like the present to change your life and start trying those things that you were putting off. You don’t have time to bore yourself.

So, stop spending your time thinking about reasons why you can’t or won’t do new things or meet new people and start thinking about how much fun it will be to have new friends and new experiences. As the Chevrolet TV commercial says – Find new roads. You don’t have time to bore yourself.


Help me get through this…

January 8, 2022

A quote that I saved from a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog serves to illustrate how our faith helps us get through the trials of life.

“God didn’t remove the Red Sea; He parted it.  God doesn’t remove our problems; He makes a way through them.”  (Jack’s Winning Words – Sent by Kathy M)

Quite often we might initially pray for the wrong thing – for God to remove whatever trial or hardship is in front of us. However, as Kathy M pointed out in her quote, that is most often not how God works in our lives. Instead, God gives us the strength to get through whatever it is; or, rather, our faith in God gives us that strength.

Perhaps a better thing to pray for is for God to strengthen our faith so that it strengthens us. In the end, no matter how grave the circumstance may seem, our faith has already assured us that we shall have everlasting life thru Jesus.

 Faith is the bedrock upon which the KCCO phrase is based – Keep Calm and Carry On. Our faith calms us when frenzy might overtake us, and it allows us to move forward and carry on with life. The little prayer that I often use – “Not my will but thy will be done” – has an amazing calming effect in the midst of crisis and immediately opens the door to a better future. It does not resolve anything in and of itself, but it removes the burden of what is at hand and give it to God. It frees you to carry on. Try it the next time that your life is in crisis.

So, what have you got for us, life? Bring it on. We will get through it with God’s help.


Do you know that you don’t know?

January 6, 2022

I believe that these two quotes both came from the Jack’s Winning Words blog, but I know that the last one did because it was from today.

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” (James Thurber)

“The greatest enemy of learning is knowing.”  (John Maxwell)

Both quotes point to the danger and foolishness of thinking that you know it all. In fact, most of us haven’t even scratched the surface of the questions, much less finding the answers.

Many readers may know someone who is a “know-it-all”, the person with all of the answers. Not surprisingly most of what that person “knows” is wrong or based upon bad information, or even worse upon bad assumptions.

Instead of concluding that you know all there is to know about anything, it is better to spend some time asking yourself what questions about the topic remain unanswered. A good place to start when considering any “fact” is where did that fact come from – what is its source. Most of the so-called conspiracy theories have no basis in fact and no real source other than rumors or conjecture. Any argument that starts with “I heard that…” should be immediately challenged by “Heard from who or where?”

But enough about current events and politics, let’s focus more generally upon how one learns and creates their knowledge base. It is upon that base that wisdom is eventually built.

One grows in knowledge by continually questioning. What just happened? Why does something happen?  What causes something to happen? How does that something happening affect me and do I need to do something about it? Is this something new? If not, how can I make sense of it by connecting that something and my understand of it to anything else that I might already know (note: that turns understanding into knowledge)?

All of those questions and the thought processes that go with them are important to increasing your knowledge and wisdom. That is why shutting down those processes by thinking that you already know everything dramatically decreases your learning. Accepting without questioning is the cornerstone of building conspiracy theories.

So, always ask yourself, “what don’t I know about this?” Keeping that question in mind will mean that you keep learning.

Even in the realm of religion there is always room to learn more, as Pastor Freed mentioned in his blog today (follow the link about to read the blog post). Instead of trying to know all about God, start by knowing God through Jesus.

Now, what are your questions? Refer to your textbook (the Bible) for the answers.

Keep learning because now you know that you don’t know.


Hope supplies the light…

January 5, 2022

I’ve has these two quotes in my saved file for a while and they just seem to go together –

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” (Stanley Kubrick)

“Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent”.  (Mignon McLaughlin)

Kubrick’s quote points out that we must find our own way our of the darkness of sorrow or anger or despair – the things that plunge us into darkness.

I wrote a few years back about four candles – Peace, Love, Faith and Hope – and how one by one they were extinguished until only the candle of Hope remained burning (see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/01/27/where-there-is-hope-there-can-never-be-complete-darkness-2/).

Our lives can seem like the candles sometimes, especially when jarring events snuff out the candle of Peace or the unexpected loss of a loved one causes the candle of Love to flicker out. Sometimes it is all too easy to allow events to overcome us and so we lose sight of the candle of our Faith. In those times all we have is the candle of Hope to show us the way our of the darkness.

If we can get to the point that McLaughlin mentioned, where we realize that the darkness we are in is not permanent by holding out hope for a better tomorrow, we can start to reignite the other candles in our lives.

Recent events in the U.S. and around the world have provided vivid images of people who have lost everything or endured unimaginable hardships and yet still cling to hope. Out of that hope many have expressed their faith that things will get better, and that life will go on. Most often they express gratitude that they still have their loved ones and state that they will rebuild their lives and their homes. They know that the feelings of loss and despair that they may have at that moment will not last.

You do not have to suffer a disaster to be plunged into a dark place. For some, mental illness takes them to those places often. No matter how you got there, the candle of Hope is the way out. Keep Hope burning in your life and let its light show you the way out of the darkness. Peer into the darkness with the light of Hope and you will see God standing there with the candle of Faith ready to be reignited.

Faith is most often the first candle to be relit by Hope. Hope illuminates God as our guide out of our funk and allows us to ask God for His help.

Once you have the candle of Faith burning in your life again it becomes possible to relight the candle of Love and to once again allow the candle of Peace to guide your way through life.

Hold on to Hope…it supplies the light in the darkness.