So, grab the controls and enjoy the ride…

April 29, 2022

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “The bad news is, Time flies!  The good news is, You’re the pilot.”  (Michael Altshuler)

Freed when on to comment on studies that show that time does indeed seem to go more slowly when one is young that when older. I suspect that this is the same phenomenon that makes the return trip from a new destination seem shorter that the time it took to get there.

The real point of today’s quote is that you are still in control, no matter how fast things seem to be happening. Perhaps it is a blessing that time seems to fly. That usually means that you are busy and not just sitting around being bored with life. Personally, I know that I seem to be busier now, in my semi-retired life than I was when I was working full time in a big company. I have two part-time jobs and some volunteer work that keeps me busy each day. I also make it a point to do something with my wife each day and we have a dog that demands attention in exchange for the unconditional love that she gives us. Time flies by.

As we get older, I suspect that life, like that return trips from somewhere new, just seems faster because less of it is all new to us. Even though life may seem faster, there is actually more time to notice and enjoy the nuances that one might have missed when it was all new to us. We usually have become smart enough to be able to separate out the important things in life from  the chaff of distractions and the noise of “emergencies” that seem to pop up.   By slowing down and prioritizing the processing of what is happening all around us in life, we are better able to enjoy living it and not just focusing on “getting through it”. We can stop and smell the flowers.

So, grab the controls of your life and enjoy the ride. Another quote from Jack’s Winning Words seems to apply to this – “Wake up determined to go to bed satisfied.”  (Dwayne The Rock Johnson)            

Don’t ever forget that you are the pilot. Be determined that you will control not the events of the day but your reactions to them and you will go to bed satisfied with your day, no matter how fast it may have seemed to go by.

A good way to put yourself in the right frame of mind is to start each day with a little prayer thanking God for giving you another day, letting go of your need to control things by saying, “not my will but thy will be done”, and asking for God’s help reacting to things throughout the day. Then at the end of the day thank God again for your day and reflect on what you accomplished or learned that day.  It’s all good. Be satisfied. Enjoy the ride. You have God as your co-pilot.

Excuse me, did you drop this?

April 27, 2022

This quote caught my eye some time ago, so I saved it. “To leave the world better than you found it, sometimes you have to pick up other people’s trash.”  (Bill Nye) 

I think the quote is true and good advice, but I also believe that there is nothing wrong with bringing it to the attention of the offender (thus the title for today’s post).

I suppose that I am becoming (if not one already) an old curmudgeon; however, I just can’t let some things go by without trying to bring it to the attention of the offender and bystanders (some might call it shaming).

I live in the small Village of Milford in Southeastern Michigan. Like most villages, towns and cities we have laws that were enacted for good reasons, many for reasons of public safety. Our streets have signs clearly pointing out places where (and who is to) to stop at corners and where and when left hand turns cannot be made. Yet every day I see people choosing to ignore those signs. They are effectively thumbing their noses at our laws because to obey them might cause them some inconvenience.

I take whatever opportunity I get to point to them as they go by or to honk at them if I see them making that illegal turn or cruising through a stop sign intersection. Sometimes they just smile at me sheepishly and acknowledge with a head nod that they realize what they have done. Sometimes they are so distracted by looking at their phone that they don’t even see me. Sometimes they show their complete disdain for our laws by flipping me the bird. Those last ones are the most disgusting of all, since they obviously know that they are breaking our laws and just don’t care. They are saying, “Your stinking laws don’t apply to me.”

Another sign of this self-centered disdain for others is the litter that we see on the sides of streets. Many feel that, when they have finished their takeout meal or drink, it is OK to just roll down the window and toss their trash out. Others, taking heed of Nye’s advice, adopt sections of roads and spend hours picking up that trash. Which do you think is leaving the world a better place?

I think that kind of self-centered disdain for others and the rule of law is at the core of much of the political unrest in the country. The concept of “we”, that we are all in this together, has given way to the concept of “Us” vs. “Them”. Obeying the laws of the land has always been largely a voluntary thing, but it was more the norm before the deep political divide that now seems to have hold over the country. The appeal of individual freedom to do as one pleases has come to dominate our thinking and weakened the concept of the collective good (a bedrock of societies) and the rule of laws.

I don’t disagree with Nye’s thought that we must be willing to pick up the messes that others leave behind, but I don’t see anything wrong with also letting them know that what they did is not right and not in the common good. We must continue to promote and reinforce the common good; otherwise, we just join one of the groups – Us or Them – and that’s not good for anyone.

Excuse me did you drop this?

Earth is not happy…

April 22, 2022
Earth Day 2022

I got this graphic as today’s inspirational message and couldn’t help but think that earth wouldn’t really be in a happy mood, if it were possible for it to have moods. In fact, earth would be in a foul mood just like it’s atmosphere. Those billions of pesky little any-like creatures who are running around on its surface (and below) and in its skies have created enough pollution to make earth hot under the collar and earth is showing its displeasure with severe weather events, melting icecaps and rising seas.

So, on this Earth Day, instead of being happy or blissfully ignorant, we should all be more aware of the impact that we are having on Earth and take heed of the need to change our ways before the Earth finds ways to deal with this infestation of humans. We hear much about the need to all get along with each other; however, if we don’t figure out how to get along with the Earth first, that won’t matter.

As I sat thinking about earth’s current state and the direction in which we seem to be heading it occurred to me that the current hot political word of the moment – “woke” – applies. Although it has recently been perverted by politicians to use in a very negative sense for political gain, the definition that I found online for it seems to apply – It suggests rage, passion, resistance, action; seeking to draw a line against the unacceptable – .

We all need to become woke to the damage that we are causing to the earth and draw a line against the consequences if we do not make changes. For now at least, this is the only place that we have to live, so destroying it makes no sense – it is unacceptable.

Instead of a Happy Earth Day, we need a Woke Earth Day. Let’s draw that line.

Worry about liking yourself first…

April 21, 2022

I’ve had this quote lying around in my quotes collection for quite some time. I felt that it is true, but I couldn’t seem to find the right words to describe why I felt that way.

“Remember: The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.”  (Douglas Coupland, novelist)

Then it dawned upon me that I have written about why this true several times. It involves liking yourself and being comfortable with who you are. Feeling lonely is mostly about not having someone else there to affirm and validate who you are and that is based upon doubts that you may have about yourself. Sometimes those doubts are based upon the inability to forgive yourself for a mistake in judgement or actions. I’ve posted here a few times about forgiving yourself. Most of the time forgiving yourself involves accepting that God forgives you first. You really don’t need the reassurance of others to validate yourself. You can self-validate and indeed you must; but first, you must be able to accept God’s forgiveness and then forgive yourself.

Once you accept and become comfortable with who you are you will notice that is literally impossible to become lonely, since there are several billion other people walking the earth with you. Your interactions with those that you encounter will no longer involve using them to validate yourself; but, rather, sharing life experiences with them and, by sharing, enriching your life and theirs. You don’t need them to make you feel better about yourself, but by sharing time and experiences with them you both will feel better about life and yourselves.

There is a famous business book by Antony Thomas Harris titled “I’m OK – You’re OK” that deals with how to interact with people with different personality types. The key to using these techniques in business or in life lies in that first part “I’m OK”. You have to understand and be OK (comfortable) with who you are before you can move on to dealing with someone else.

So, maybe Coupland is correct. When we feel lonely, we need to be alone so that we can get right with God and ourselves, forgive ourselves if necessary, validate ourselves and get back to the point of feeling that “I’m OK”. If you can get there, the lonely part will take care on itself.

Hey, “you’re OK”, too.

Make your path…

April 20, 2022

Today’s inspirational graphic may seem to point to some hidden “path” to achieve your dreams; however, you take the first step along that “path” when you turn your dreams into goals.

All of us have dreams and most are simple musings about things that we think we might like to do or which might be fun to do. Sometimes those dreams take on greater meaning and become goals in our lives. Once they become goals, then this quote from Hannibal takes over – “I will either find a way or make one.” Hannibal famously made a way to get over the Alps in 218 BC to attack Rome in the second Punic War.

Many times, the dreams that drive us have no easy path to achieve, so we must make one. That usually means planning, dedication and hard work. Making the path to your dream often means getting the education that is required, whether that is learning a trade or getting advanced college degrees. One does not just stumble upon some magical path to becoming a doctor or lawyer or teacher. It takes years of hard work and perseverance. Make your path.

Turning your dreams into goals involves process. Part of that process is a realistic evaluation of your dream as a goal. Some dreams involve things that cannot possibly be achieved, due to constraints or requirements that cannot be met. Those dreams are best left as idle musings and one can then fantasize about what one might do if the dream came true. Once you have separated the chaff of pipe dreams from achievable goals, make your path.

Dreams that pass the test of being realistically possible and become a goal must then be turned into a roadmap (the path) of things that need to be done to make progress towards that goal. Once process takes over one can begin got break the path to achieving that goal down into smaller, achievable steps, with sub-goals along the way. Beware the tendency to try to achieve too much in each step or to become discouraged by the slow pace of the progress that you seem to be making. Celebrate each small victory or step along the way and keep revisiting and refreshing your view of the goal. Make your path.

Perhaps it will help if you print out Hannibal’s quote and post it on your wall to look at every now and then when you might get discouraged. It will remind you of the goal and of the need to make a way. It may help you be patient while making that way. If it were easy there would have been a simple and straightforward path in front of you. There seldom is. Make your path.

Venturing into the unknown to make a new path is a scary proposition; however, you have a traveling companion in God. If you trust in God and continually ask for his help, he will show you the way. You may find that God has a different destination in mind for you and that is OK. You will know that you have arrived at where God wants you to be when it dawns upon you that “this is what I was supposed to be doing”.  Make your path.

Are you paying attention?

April 15, 2022

In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote today – “Life teaches you a new lesson every day, if you are attentive enough in the class of life.”  (Invajy)

Jack also opined that a key to learning the lessons of life is to be curious. Curious about what just happened, or maybe why it just happened. Maybe it is to be curious to know more about the person that you just met. Quite a lot is always happening all around us and new people are always passing through our lives; however, much of what happens and many of the people that we encounter do not make any impression upon us because we are not paying attention.

There is a new movie coming out in May,2022, called Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The trailers for the movie show lots of action in all sorts of weird alternative universes that Dr Strange encounters. The reality of life is that we all live in the multiverse of different perceptions of the reality that is all around us. That strange looking person that we encounter is looking back at the strange looking guy that he just encountered. Both may be wondering what life looks like from the other’s perspective; although it is just as likely that neither one was paying enough attention to even notice the other.

When we are very young, life is all about exploring and playing. There is some learning going on, but we really aren’t paying attention. Eventually the adults in our lives start imposing some discipline and force us to pay attention. They use the concepts of schools and classes to force us to pay attention and develop the ability to learn from what we are experiencing. Some embrace learning through paying attention and some do not. Some take the learning process from their schooling, and some do not. Some continue to pay attention to the people, things and events around them and some retreat into the comfort of being oblivious.

Are you paying attention to life? Are you curious about the people and things that you encounter? How do you act upon that curiosity? Do you follow up? Do you engage in conversations that help you better understand and appreciate the person that you just met? Do you explore the how and why of what may have just happened? What lessons did you earn from that?

We don’t all have to be a Curious George, but we should all be paying more attention. There is a Multiverse of diverse perspectives, backgrounds, opinions, and perceptions all around us if we just pay attention. You will never have all of the answers, but you should never stop asking the questions. We can’t help but to learn from this diversity and that will make us a more intelligent and understanding person.

Are you paying attention to life? What are you learning?

Isn’t that the truth…

April 11, 2022

I get an inspirational graphic each day that is supposed to be related primarily to my Real Estate business. While it does also apply to real estate and dreams of home ownership, today’s graphic really applies to life in general.

It is fear of the unknown, or fear of failure or just fear in general that holds us back in life. Fear is the basis for prejudices. Fear is the thing that keeps us locked into unsatisfying jobs or unhappy marriages.

According to a quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Once you determine that something else (like love) is more important than fear, you find a way through the fear by keeping the goal in mind.

The important thigs is not to focus on your fears, but to refocus upon your goals such that they become more important than your fears. The stronger your resolve to reach those goals the less hold fear will have on you.

Sometimes fear will even have a beneficial effect by causing you to stop, think and plan ways to deal with fears that point to real dangers or obstacles. There is a difference between cautious optimism and foolhardiness and that difference is thoughtful planning.

So, rather than letting fears stop you, use them to arm you with plans to overcome the obstacles that you might face. Confront your fears. Examine them and then deal with them through planning. What you want in life is on the other side of those fears. Are those things more important to you than the fears?

I’ll see you on the other side.