Make your dreams come true.

March 3, 2022

Turning your dreams into reality…

There are idle musings called “daydreams” which one never really expects to come true; but they are a fun way to pass the time. Then there are the dreams that define your aspirations in life, the things that you hope (or maybe wish) you can accomplish to have a better life. For some, those aspirations never become reality because they fail to take any action to realize them. Others overcome seemingly impossible odds to achieve their dreams. We often see stories about such people on the nightly news shows.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle. We have dream and aspirations and most of us take some action to turn those dreams into reality. Some lack the resolve to stick with the pursuit of their dreams when times get tough. Others make whatever sacrifices are requited to keep making progress. Persistence seems to be one personality trait that dictates which group you identify with. Calvin Coolidge put it this way –

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

I would add patience to this list of traits. The impatient seldom stick with things that don’t provide immediate gratification.

A big part of the “action” needed to achieve ones dreams is thoughtful planning. Taking time to plan allows you to look at a seemingly big challenge and break it down into small, more easily achieved steps. It also allows you to prioritize the use of your time. Tackling those small steps one at a time also allows you to pause and congratulate yourself along the way, which encourages further action.

So, look at the achievement of your dreams as a journey and plan your itinerary as you might plan a real trip. Imagine that journey like you might plan a bicycle trip across the United States. It is a long trip, but one that can be accomplished in smaller, manageable steps, with segments of riding (action) followed by stops to rest, evaluate and reset if needed, and then more riding. Just as you might on that imaginary bicycle trip across the U.S., you can also pause to enjoy the places that you pass through along the way. You might even keep a journal of your progress, so that you can see your successes.

No matter what analogy you choose to use for the actions needed to achieve your dreams, never lose sight of the final goal. As you make progress, you may find that a slightly different final goal makes more sense for you and that’s OK.  I know a young woman who started out with a dream of being a physical therapist and then, as she better understood the health care field, decided to dream instead of being a nurse. She actually when on to become a registered, neo-natal care nurse and has dreams that go beyond that.

Never stop dreaming and never stop taking actions to achieve those dreams. Only you can make your dreams come true.

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.

Take the first step…

October 28, 2021

It is interesting that the graphic with the quote from J.P. Morgan seems to be showing a way out of a dark place. Many people find themselves in a dark place. It really doesn’t matter how they got there; what matters is how they can get out of that place and go on with life. The other interesting thing is that Morgan’s quote is that it places the responsibility for getting out of that place squarely on the shoulders of the person themselves – they have to decide that they don’t want to be there anymore. That may seem like a no-brainer decision; however, some people actually like being miserable, or so it seems.

So, if you have grown tired of being miserable or depressed and decided to get out of whatever dark place you have been in, how do you do that? For one, make sure that you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes that have kept you there for this long. There is a saying that equates that repetition with an expectation of a different outcome to insanity and you aren’t insane – just frustrated and perhaps out of options that you can think of to resolve your dilemma.

Here’s the first secret to finding your way out – it’s not your fault. In fact, it’s not your responsibility to solve whatever conundrum is confronting you. Your responsibility is to find the best way to live through that conundrum. Not being able to resolve or control all of the problems that life throws at you does not constitute failure. The failure that leads to those dark places is not being able to deal with that truth and move on.

Now, here’s the other secret to finding your way out – you are not alone. The feeling of being alone in that dark place and having no one to turn to is frightening. But you have never been alone, and you are not alone now. God has been with you all the time, standing right behind you and waiting for you to ask for his help. There is a line in the confessions of faith that we use every week in my church that says, “There is nowhere that you can go that God cannot find you.” No matter how far down you have fallen and how dark the pit seems to you, God will find you there if you but ask.

Asking God for his help does not have to involve long elaborate prayers. I’ve mentioned the line from many sports situations that goes, “A little help here.” That works when earnestly said to God. I also have posted here several times the little prayer that works for me, “Not my will but thy will be done.” That’s works, too. The real secret is asking and then embracing God’s help in your life. Use either one in an earnest appeal to God for help and see if the weight isn’t lifted from your shoulders.

You may ask, “Is it really that simple? I ask God for help and then my problems go away?” The answer is that it is really that simple and then you start dealing with your problems. They don’t go away you just move through them and past them and go on with life.

So, like the graphic above says, decide that you don’t want to be in that dark place anymore and take the first step – ask for God’s help. You will see the light and the way out.

A little help here.

History lesson…

September 12, 2021

“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”  (Georg Hegel) 

I’ve had that quote around for a week or so and it seemed to be appropriate for this weekend, with the anniversary of the attack on America by Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda that took 2,977 lives that day and which has claimed many more since from the ranks of first responders.

It has been 20 years since the American response to that attack was to launch the “War on Terrorism” which, considering our recent embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan and the reemergence of the Taliban, has largely been as unsuccessful as the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs or the efforts to end racism and discrimination in America. The protagonists in these wars, whether from outside or within, have all discovered that the best route to defeat America’s well-intentioned, if ill-conceived, wars is through patience and persistence.

There have been many articles written about factors that cause these failures, mostly about how ill-defined the goals were to begin with and about the constant “mission-creep” that kept re-defining what or who it was that we were fighting or the reason that we were even fighting.  However, one of the most obvious is the lack of political will to see these “Wars” through to a conclusion. I hesitate to use the word victory, since that word has so often been usurped to cover our eventual withdrawals from the fights.

Even now, we are fighting wars on several fronts against cyber attacks mainly from outside our country, but from a few internal sources, too. We are also fighting an unseen enemy in the form of a pandemic that has turned us against ourselves with disastrous consequences. Diseases like other enemies patiently wait for us to let our guard down and then swoop back in to claim more lives.

Even Nature, to whom we assigned the benign personality of “Mother Nature”, is now exacting a terrible toll in retribution for our wanton disregard for the planet. I’m not sure that we ever declared “war” on global warming, but if we did, we are losing that war, too.

What have we really learned from the history of these failed wars? Hopefully that loud thumping of our chests as we declare “War” and military might alone does not assure victory; and perhaps that vigilance and preparedness are never-ending requirements for our nation’s safety. Both require patience and persistence, plus political will.

In our fights against diseases and global warming our efforts have been disrupted by misinformation or, even worse, by disinformation. So, we must also work to get back onto the team those whose “beliefs” have replaced the facts and work harder to combat the bad players who spread misinformation and conspiracy theories in place of the truth.

Perhaps Hegel is right that we don’t appear to learn what we could from history. We cannot change history anyway. But we do have choices in front of us that can change the future. Have we at least learned that? I hope so.

Where do you turn for comfort?

September 10, 2021

Pastor Freed took us all back to our childhood days with his quote in today’s post to his blog, Jack’s  Winning Words – “I miss the days when all it took to make me feel better was my Teddy Bear.”  (Unknown) 

As children, many find comfort or relief in some familiar physical thing, be it a Teddy Bear or maybe a soft crib blanket, like Linus in the Peanuts cartoon. When we grow up our Teddy Bears and blankies are left behind and many don’t seem to find a new way to make themselves feel better – something to turn to for comfort and maybe reassurance in tough times.

Unfortunately, many turn to alcohol or drugs when seeking relief in in times of stress. Some don’t find any way out of the situations that they find themselves in and sink into depression.

However, there is always someone to turn to when you need comfort, because God is always there.

Finding comfort in troubled times is really about being at peace and the best way to be at peace is to surrender to the comfort of God’s love for you. If you tell yourself that no matter what it is that is troubling you, God loves you and will help you get through it, you will feel the peace of the Lord settle over you like a warm embrace.

There is a peace that surpasses all understanding out there for you if you just reach for it. So let go of your Teddy Bear or blankie and turn to God for comfort and peace in times of trouble as well as in the good times.

Peace be with you.

Making life-or-death decisions…

July 29, 2021

Most people don’t get involved in making life or death decisions, especially about other people, unless it involves decisions that they have to make about relatives in hospice care. Many people, however, do get involved in making life or death decisions about their pets. While we euphemistically call it “putting them down”, it is basically a decision that one makes to cause the death of their pet. I had to do that yesterday with my bog- Sadie.

Sadie was a Blue Tick Coon Hound – a cross between a German Shorthair and a hound of some sort and she was a great dog who was a part of our family for over 10 years. It was a tough decision but one that I know that I had to make. Sadie had developed cancer and it was eating her up. She had lost over 10 pounds and was so weak that she could barely stand at the end. Yet she was loyally and valiantly trying to please us right to the end. She was the perfect representation of unconditional love, and we will miss her dearly.

I was overcome by the weight of the decision that I had to make, but I know that it was the right one for her and for us. The vet who has been caring for her said that we had done everything that we could for her and that it was time to let her go. I knew that, but it didn’t make it any easier. We stayed with her through the process. I don’t often cry, but I cried then and I am crying as I write this. Making that kind of life-or-death decision is a gut wrenching experience and one that I would not want to go through again, if I could avoid it. And yet, I probably will have to again sometime in the future.

We have always had dogs in our family life. Looking back over the years of our marriage we have had 10 dogs (sometimes 2 at once) over half of which had to be put down at the end. A few just passed away at home, but most just got to the point where a vet recommended ending their misery through euthanasia. It was never an easy decision to make and never easy to go through, but I find some comfort in remembering the good times that we had together with Sadie – the long walks, the trips to the dog park and the love that we shared.

My wife often told the story of how Sadie actually picked us. We had lost our lost dog Odie, a Black Lab, a month or so earlier and decided to go to an Adopt a Friend event event at the Detroit Zoo that was being run by the Michigan Humane Society. We were there to search for another Black Lab when Sadie walked up and leaned on my wife’s leg, wanting to be petted. That was that and she went home with us. She turned out to be the best dog ever.

Goodbye, Sadie. You were a good dog.

There’s no BandAid for…

July 23, 2021

In the post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words , today, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Sweat dries, blood clots and bones heal.  Suck it up, princess, this is softball.”  (Unknown) 

Jack went on to write – Anyone who’s played competitive sports knows about injuries.  Some can be serious (for sure), but most tend to heal on their own.  I’ve also noticed that a stop at the DQ after the game helps alleviate the pain.  Sometimes when we grow frustrated with the hurts of life, a trip to the ice cream shop with a friend might help? 

The bravado world of sports always seems to glorify the thought of sucking it up, shaking it off and getting back in the game. Recent medical and scientific evidence has shown that trying to shake off a concussion is the wrong thing for athletes to do. Most sports have adopted concussion protocols to deals with the seriousness of “getting your bell rung.”

We tend to adopt sports phrases and advice when trying to cope with life, telling others to suck it up or shake it off and get back in the game. But for those suffering from mental illnesses or depression there is no way to shake it off, there are no BandAids for the hurts that take place in the mind.

I posted here back in 2016 about what Autism feels like – See Trying to understand others without a frame of reference. That post resulted in quite a bit of feedback and eventually led to another post – What does depression feel like. In both cases I was writing blind, from the point of view of someone who had little to no first-hand experience with either of those hurts. Both contained links to blog posts or web sites suggested by readers who had dealt with the issues.

 Those and other mental conditions are examples of hurts in life to which we cannot just say, “Suck it up” or “Shale it off”.  While there are no BandAids for most mental illnesses, many do have treatments that can help. As with physical hurts, it is important to recognize when someone has a mental hurt that needs attention, usually the attention of a professional.

One could add to the list of life’s mental hurts those who are addicted, whether to alcohol or drugs. They tend to hear lots of advice to suck it up and quit cold turkey, but that seldom works. There are effective support programs to help with the pain (real and imagined) of freeing oneself from addiction.

Some mental conditions are temporary, but many are permanent and the best that can be done is to manage them and the effects that they have on the life of the sufferer. There are treatment plans that take into consideration that there are no BandAids for many of these conditions, but there are plans that can improve and seek to maintain a better quality of life for the sufferer.

So, what is one to do, if you know someone who is in pain from one of life’s many painful mental conditions?  Advising them to Suck it up and Shale it off is not the answer. Showing compassion and understanding is a start but helping them recognize that they cannot resolve it themselves and advising them to seek professional help is the best thing that you can do. Just as they cannot heal themselves, you are not the answer either (unless you happen to be a health professional in the mental health field). What you can be is a friend, a supporter during a tough time and maybe a facilitator (offer to drive them to the appointment) of the treatments that will help.

Resolve to be a part of the solution for the pain in your friend’s life. Instead of yelling “Suck it up” or “Sake it off”, quietly ask “How can I help?” Perhaps being that caring and compassionate friend in their time of need is the trip to the DQ that they need most right now. There are no BandAids for the hurt that they are suffering, but there is you.

Be there for them. Be the BandAid that they need.

How to get rich quick…

April 13, 2021

The blog, Jack’s Winning Words, contained advice this morning on how to become rich that originated from an ancient Greek philosopher – “By desiring little a poor man makes himself rich.”  (Democritus)

Pastor Freed referenced the movie The Jerk and its main character Navin as an example of someone who was happy (rich) with just the few simple things around him. All of us are not simpletons like Navin, but we can all still be happy and feel rich by appreciating the things that we have and not lusting after things that we don’t have.

The starting point for that happiness and rich feeling is to be thankful for what you do have – starting with life. If you wake up in the morning and feel grateful that God has given you another day. That is a good start. Taking the new day for granted is a start down the wrong path- the path of entitlement. It is this feeling of entitlement that eggs us on to lust after the things that we don’t have.

A good way to ground yourself at the start of each day is to utter a short prayer to God, thanking Him for giving you another day and another opportunity to appreciate the things and people around you. Assuming that you are not in survival mode, scrambling for your next meal and your very existence, you can also be more aware of and thankful for the things that you already have.

Most in America, and in most civilized countries of the world, have much more than someone living at subsistence level or in survival mode out in the jungle somewhere. We may have a roof over our heads or at least somewhere to stay. Most have enough food to survive readily available and most have more than one set of cloths. There are many in the extremely poor parts of the world who would consider themselves rich if they had just those things. So, right away, you are richer than that poor, starving naked person huddling under a tree for shelter somewhere.

The real key to becoming rich quick is to control your desire for more, for things that you don’t have. There is already a scientific explanation for not being happy by accumulating more things. It is called “The law of diminishing returns.” This axiom basically states that the satisfaction or happiness realized by obtaining another item of a certain type diminishes with each added item. So maybe you were still very happy when you got your second pair of pants or shirt; however, buying the 10th or 20th pair of pants or shirt is much less satisfying. The thrill is gone, and you may event start to question yourself about why you “needed” another pair of pants or another shirt or blouse? The real answer is that you don’t need them.

So, why do we keep accumulating things that we really don’t need? I suspect that the answer in most cases is that we think that owning them will make us happy. For some it is the pursuit of that ownership that provide them the happiness; a happiness that quickly fades once it has been achieved. It turns out for them that victory in one pursuit just leads to the start of another chase for the next shiny thing.

Maybe, after you thank God for giving you another day, you can ask Him to help you find happiness is what you have. Ask God to open your eyes to see the beauty in the things and people around you and to appreciate them. Once you stop to think about all that you already have and the love that you share with those around you, you may find that you are already a rich person indeed.

So, the secret to getting rich quick it to be thankful for, and happy with, the things that God has already given you. Then you can stop chasing the next shiny thing and start enjoying the things and people who are already there. Instead of buying that 10th pair of pants for yourself, buy them and donate them to a charity and see if that doesn’t make you feel richer than hanging them in your closet.

God has given you another day. What more do you really need? Be happy. Enjoy the riches that God has already given you.

You can do this…

January 16, 2021

Pastor Freed used this quote some time ago in his blog Jack’s Winning Words  – “Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less.”  (Greg McKeown)

I happen to have clients that categorize themselves as essentialists. At one time they thought that they were minimalists, but have come to realize the differences and are happy being essentialists. One major difference is that they do allow themselves a few, non-essential indulgences in life, where a minimalist would eschew anything above the bare minimum altogether.

Essentialism isn’t a bad thing and the key to it – discipline – is actually a good thing, because it spills over into all aspects of one’s life. That means that essentialists are usually more healthy, because they are disciplined eaters and have the discipline to get enough exercise. That discipline also means that they have fewer possessions and probably are in better financial shape, even if they aren’t considered to  be wealthy.  They are disciplined savers and likely have a nice nest egg for retirement building.

So, why should you consider becoming an essentialist? Because there is really no justification for the opposite approach to life – that of constantly chasing more. More money, more things. MORE. To what end? Is the person with more at the end of their life able to take it with them any more than the person with less?

An interesting side effect of the two approaches to life is that those who seek more are seldom happy with whatever they have accomplished and have at the time – they want more. Whereas, the person seeking only the essentials in their life can find happiness in not having or eliminating something – success is found in less.

So, should you run off and live in a cave with no possessions or amenities? No, that would be the minimalist approach. Just stop to consider before you buy that next thing and ask yourself  if it is really essential. Have the discipline to think about what you need and of what use you might put something to, if you bought it. Would it be used often or just sit in a closet or be over next to the exercise equipment, gathering dust. Are you buying this item because you actually need it (essential) or just because you want it (and why do you want it – is it because someone else has one).

You won’t become a hermit or even an essentialist overnight, just because you stopped to think about it before you buy things; however,, it might help you get your credit card debt under control and that’s a good first step. Adopting that small step of discipline in your life make be he first step to getting back control of your life. Once you have regained control over yourself, you will probably notice that what is important in life is not possessions but the relationships that you have with those around you – family and friends. Now you know what is really essential for a happy life.

Let me know how that works for you. I’m off to buy things that I don’t need with money I don’t have. My bad.

I found the right words…

December 21, 2020

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”  (Jack Kerouac-poet) –  From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Ways blog. Pastor Freed when on to write about trying to be brief in his blog,

I guess I cannot claim to be brief in this blog. I often take the one-paragraph posts that I see in Pastor Freed blog and turn them into 4-5 paragraphs (sometimes more). One reader even commented that it was like encountering a “wall of words.” Ouch!

OK, so, I get wordy most of the time. Sorry about that, but I love words and how one can flow them together to express a thought. Maybe I should stop thinking so much and that might cut down the number of words needed. My wife accuses me (and rightfully so most of the time) of being too much like Captain Obvious too much of the time.

The one area of my life that I have found the right words (at least for me) that are simple and short is in my prayers. I have posted this here a few times that my favorite and most often used prayer is the simple line – “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

I think the reason that I love that simple little prayer is that it represents a release of my own ego and an acceptance of the will of God in my life, no matter what the situation is that is prompting the prayer. I have also posted here many times about how one’s inability to let go of the need to solve a problem or work out an issue can get in the way of moving forward – see Let it Go. Spit it out.

There are times when I use others prayers, especially when I remember to stop and thank God for some wonderful thing that has just happened or some terrible thing that I just avoided; but that is my “go-to” prayer.

I’m sure that many people have their own “go-to” prayer; but if you don’t have one, feel free to use my little prayer. It works wonders for me and will put you in the right frame of mind to experience wonders in your life, too.

Have a great week ahead. It’s Christmas week and a time to celebrate.

May His will be done in your life.