How are things turning out for you?

February 24, 2022

Life is a continuous process of discovery and our reactions to those discoveries. A quote from legendary basketball coach, John Wooden seems to be the most appropriate way to react to the twists and turns of life.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”

Railing against things that have already happened or denying them is a gigantic waste of time and changes nothing. Rather, spending your time internalizing recent events and making necessary corrections in your life to move forward seems a much better course of action.

In today’s post to his Blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote from Jane Goodall –

“Lasting change is a series of compromises.  And compromise is all right, as long as your values don’t change.”

So perhaps we could combine the two thoughts and surmise that things work out best for those who are able to compromise and go on with life. But, what about that “values” part of Goodall’s quote. What if it is your “values” for which you need to seek compromise?

There is no generally applicable set of universal values or core beliefs in almost any society today. That is because most modern societies are not made up of people all from the same ethnic, religious or geopolitical backgrounds. The diversity of the population that brings strength to modern societies also dilutes the “values” of any one group. This results in the need for compromise even in the values upon which judgements are being made. If in no other way, it forces us to consider that someone else may have a completely different point of view on what is right and wrong in any given situation, based upon a different set of core values.

At the root of many of today’s seemingly intractable issues, such as LBGTQI rights, abortion and the role of government in our lives are differing sets of values which make compromise seem difficult. When you spend time trying to think about issues like that, you may quickly arrive at the correct conclusion that how you act or react to those issues is your decision and your decision alone. What “everybody knows” or “everyone says” has no real bearing. It is your personal responsibility to decide how you will act or react to the situation. That forces you to examine what you think are your “core values”.

If you are honest with yourself in that evaluation of your values, you may realize that there is not a value at the core of some of your actions/reactions at all; but, rather, that fear is the driving force in your decisions. Even ignorance in any situation leads to fear of the unknown as the driver for reactions.

The step after becoming more aware of what values (if any) are controlling your action is to examine whether compromise may be needed. That is really the reaction that Wooden was alluding to in his quote – making the best of how things turned out. Every fear-driven, knee-jerk reaction is just a “jerk” reaction. You need to stop and think before acting or reacting.

Maybe if you stop and at least think, “I have the power to control how I react to this”, it will force a better response. At a minimum, you will have avoided a knee-jerk reaction and at best you will react based upon your values rather than your fears. If it still doesn’t turn out for you, maybe then is the time to reexamine your “values” and perhaps seek a compromise.

How are things tuning out for you? Who decides? Perhaps one last quote will put you in the right frame of mind to answer that question –

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” (Alice Walker)

You have the power to decide how things turn out for you. Use your power.

Grow up and be you…

February 21, 2022

I saw this quote on-line somewhere and decided to save it – “It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings

It seems to pair nicely with one that I saved from the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “The thing about chameleoning your way through life is that it gets to where nothing is real.” (John Green)

Too many young people try to chameleon their way through life, emulating the look and life of their favorite rock or movie star or maybe just someone else at their school or in their circle of friends. Some fear being unpopular of they allow others to see them as they really are or maybe they just don’t think who they really are is very interesting. It takes a while for the young, or any of us, to discover and understand themselves. It may take even longer to accept that understanding and have the courage to be who we really are.

Another quote that I’ve had hanging around for quite some time seems appropriate to this post – “If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?”  Gloria Steinem

Obviously, the foot is who you really are and the shoe is who you have been trying to be (or to be like). You must have the courage to be who you really are and to learn to love being that person. I’ve posted here a few times on loving yourself, which means loving who you are. If you can’t love who you’ve become, work on becoming a better you, someone that you can love, not on trying to be like someone else.

So, stop being a chameleon, get real and summon up the courage to be who you really are. You’ll feel better about yourself and I think you’ll find that others feel better about you, too. Those “friends” who only liked the person that you were pretending to be weren’t really your friends at all. You will find new friends who are attracted to and like the person you really are, and they are your true friends.

Grow up and be you.

That’s enough for me…

February 15, 2022

I’ve been saving this quote for some time, trying to figure out the best way to use it, because it sums up so well my feelings after 56 years of marriage. Somehow it makes perfect sense to use it on Valentine’s Day.

“There will be no medals or monuments for me, but I have loved one person with my whole heart and soul, and that’s enough for me.”  (Nicholas Sparks) 

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden /”.

When marriages last a long time they undergo many changes, just like the people involved in them. The thing that gets the couples through the tough times that all marriages encounter is love. The thing that endures long after the heat of passion has become glowing embers rather than leaping flames is love. The thing that allows the forgiveness of forgotten birthdays or anniversaries is love. The thing that allows us to look beyond to the ravages of aging bodies and still see beauty is love.  That’s enough for me.

It seems that it takes most people a long time to figure out what is truly important in life; not what you may like or enjoy at the moment, but what really natters and endures. Perhaps that is the maturity and wisdom that comes with age. Most eventually get it, but for some that wisdom comes too late and the one person to whom thy might have given their love to is gone. I was blessed to find my true love 56 years ago and share the biggest part of my life with her. That’s enough for me.

Every night the last thing that my wife and I say to each other as we go to bed is “I love you”. If I didn’t wake up in the morning I would be content that the last thing I said on earth was “I love you” to her and the last thing I heard was “I love you” in return. That’s enough for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day my love. You’re enough for me!

Indeed, it is the deed…

February 9, 2022

Although I saw today’s quote recently on-line somewhere, I’m sure that it has been used in the Jack’s Winning Words blog, probably more than once.

 “The smallest deed is better than the grandest intention.” – Anonymous

I have also mentioned here before that one of my mother’s oft used phrases was, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” She would have agreed that the road to hell should probably be called ‘Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Lane”.

Inaction is often the path of least resistance and one too often chosen by many. For most the underlying cause is fear – fear of real or imagined negative or dangerous outcomes or fear of failure if we try. But surrendering to fear steals our lives away and we become zombies (the living dead). Early Twentieth Century reporter and author Dorothy Thompson put it this way – “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

We should not become content with ourselves if we know that something is wrong and do nothing about it. We do not have to try to single handedly conquer the worlds big problems – hunger, wars, disease, poverty and the like; however, we can act as an individual on any of them by supporting the big efforts that are already underway through organizations like The U.N. or The Red Cross or W.H.O. At a small. Local level there are any number of worthy Go Fund Me drives underway at any time and lots of local volunteer non-profits in need of help. You don’t have to be rich to make an impact locally where your volunteer time is often the most needed resource.

Sometimes it is just acting on your concerns or what you observe that can make a dramatic difference. Think how many recent tragedies might have been averted had someone who noticed a troubled person’s distress had acted to help them or get them help before they acted on their troubled state. Being more aware of your surroundings and the signed that are there as calls for help could make a huge difference in things like domestic violence or human trafficking.

Most people have good intentions, but their comfort zone keeps them on Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Lane instead of taking action to implement those intentions. Keep in mind that the size of the response based upon those intentions is not as important as actually taking the first steps to implement those intentions. Maybe keeping the Nike slogan – Just Do It – in mind will help or maybe remember those little WWJD bracelets from the 1990’s.

From Wikipedia – The phrase “What would Jesus do?”, often abbreviated to WWJD, became popular particularly in the United States in the late 1800s after the widely read book by Charles Sheldon entitled, In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do. The phrase had a resurgence in the US and elsewhere in the 1990s and as a personal motto for adherents of Christianity who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents.

I’m pretty sure that Jesus would not have let himself be trapped on Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Lane and neither should you let yourself be trapped there either. Even your smallest deed to act on those good intentions is better than wishing later that you had acted.

Indeed, it is the deed. Just do it.

Get out of your ruts and improvise…

February 7, 2022

Two quotes that I’ve saved from the Jack’s Winning Words blog just seemed to fit together this morning.

“How do you tell a rut from a tradition?”  (Fr Don Talafous)

“Life is a lot like jazz.  It’s best when you improvise.”  (George Gershwin)

Ruts occur in life all the time. One gets comfortable going to the same places, doing the same things and seeing the same people all the time. It’s not tradition, it’s a rut. Even beloved traditions can become things in which you find yourself just going through the motions, not really enjoying it; but, hey, it’s a tradition. Holidays can be like that. Even small things like gong out to eat can become ruts, when you restrict yourself to a small set of places that you “always go to on weekend.” I suspect that the answer to the question about how to tell if you’re in a rut rather than just following tradition is that ruts have no passion – there is no real enthusiasm in being in them.

Heeding Gershwin’s advice to improvise is the best way to break out of the ruts in your life. Improvising means trying something new, going someplace new or interacting with someone new. The phrase “getting out of your comfort zone” accurately describes what is likely to happen when you improvise. The sense of danger or discomfort in a new experience immediately heightens the enjoyment.

Trying a new restaurant or going to a new store or maybe trying a new sport are all ways to improvise; but, perhaps the most impactful is meeting new people. The other ways of improvising are mostly passive in nature – you mostly just experience them. That’s not a bad thing and experiencing them does add to your store of knowledge; however, you don’t really interact with them, you just experience them. Meeting new people forces you into an interactive mode and may immediately challenge some of the ruts (pre-conceived notions, or stereotypes, or prejudices) that have been dictating your life.

Of greatest impact to get you out of your ruts is meeting new people who are dramatically different from you. Meeting people of different races, ethnic groups or sexual preferences exposes you to points of view that may be very different from yours and forces you to consider those differences. Improvising by meeting new people from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs will also expose to you some of your own prejudices and hopefully cause you to reexamine and debunk them.

When a Jazz musician takes off on a riff he/she may not know where they will end up; they just know that they are enjoying the moment by improvising. The result is new and beautiful music. Life can be like that too. Improvise and enjoy the moment. You may discover that the new relationships that you form on those moments make beautiful music in your life. Get out of your ruts and improvise. You’ll have the best times of your life and maybe make new friends.