Who are you becoming? Keep your hopes alive.

July 24, 2022

I saw this quote recently and just loved it, because it is such a great positive message of hope –

“I have hope in who I am becoming.”  (Charlotte Erikson)

Shortly after saving that quote, I got this graphic in a daily email that I get –

What a great message it carries, too.

I don’t think that you necessarily have to come to a cathartic event, such as entering the chrysalis state like the caterpillar does when it turns into a butterfly, in order to change and become the butterfly that you hope to be. The point is to consciously decide to make the commitment to the changes in your life that will alter the trajectory of it. Commit to turning into the new you.

Women may find the illusion to changing into a butterfly easier to accept than men, but the point is not one of changing one’s outer beauty so much as the inner you changing to become a better and more beautiful person inside – a person that others want to be around and an example for others to follow.

Maybe you can start each day with a little prayer such as,” God give me the strength and perseverance to become the person that I know that I can be.”  Just putting yourself in that frame of mind each morning will make each day better and get you one step closer to who you are becoming.

So, have hope in who you are becoming and welcome the change; not into a butterfly, but into the new and improved you. It’s a beautiful thing.


Change you and change the world…

July 15, 2022

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “We’re told that ‘You can’t change the world.’, but the world is changing every day.  The only question is…Who’s changing it?  You or someone else?”  (J. Michael Straczynski)

That quote almost immediately brought to mind the quote, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” That quote is often mistakenly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi; but, according to Quote Investigator, what Gandhi actually said was:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”

Gandhi passed away in 1948, and Quote Investigator went on to report that the first sources of the abbreviated quote appeared many years later in 1974 within a self-help book chapter written by educator Arleen Lorrance. It was called the Love Project and stated:

One way to start a preventative program is to be the change you want to see happen.”

Quote Investigator wne on to state that it took a couple of years more — until 1987 — when a Santa Fe, New Mexico Newspaper article about a self-help group organized by Mary Lou Cook was quoted as saying that the inspiration to form such a group came from a statement by Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

The attribution of that quote to Gandhi has stuck ever since, even though he never said it in that way.

Even so, Gandhi’s thought that we control the change in the world by controlling our reactions to those change puts us back in control of the change that is going on in the world. Change happens every day all over the world and you see or experience only a tiny bit of it. The key to the impact that you will have on the changes that are occurring is your conscious effort to react to them. One can benignly accept the changes that are occurring or one can choose to do something about them – either in a positive and reinforcing way for changes that we agree with, or with a negative and resistive effort to fight against those changes with which we disagree.

So, how you “be the change that you want to see in the world” is that you react to those changes by making changes of your own to your own life. You become an activist, rather than standing passively by and watching the changes occur. Maybe you take up a sign and join a march for or against something. Maybe you volunteer to work for the election of someone. Maybe you donate to a cause to join a fund-raising effort for that cause. The point is that you react to those changes and by reacting you cause change in yourself and in the world.

So, it turns out that you are the change that you were hoping to see in the world. Start with you. Change your attitude to the things happening in the world around you and you will see the world differently because you changed. Additionally, the world will see you differently.

Change you and change the world.


Take a moment to reflect and appreciate, and then move on…

June 3, 2022

A quote that I kept from the Jack’s Winning Words blog seemed to resonate this morning – “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves.”  (Anatole France)

Anyone who has ever changed jobs, had a friend move away or lost a loved one understands the feeling of melancholy that France refers to. It is the loss of relationships, in lobs or other areas of life that are changing that usually causes those feelings. We don’t necessarily miss the actual job so much as the people with whom we have worked. There is a comfort in seeing the same people day after day and sharing the good and bad of the situation with them. One doesn’t commiserate or celebrate by themselves.

The feelings of melancholy can be especially strong if the thing coming to an end or changing is something that we are heavily invested in emotionally. The failure of a company (and thus the job) that we might have fought valiantly to make successful is an example. Another is the closing of a play or theater production in which we had a role. When one has been pouring their heart and soul into an activity for a while (no matter how short the time) and it ends, one cannot help but be melancholy.

But life is fully of these moments. One might even say that life is made up of a series of these moments. It is critical to one’s mental health that they be able to accept these events, find a place for them in their memories and move on. Being able to reflect on the time and emotional intensity that you committed to the events or people involved is important.  One needs to sort out the proper place in their memories for those events and people and then accept that those moments and relationships are in the past. You might maintain contact with your old co-workers, but the relationships will never be the same as it was and that’s OK; that’s life.

walking man

If there are lessons to be learned from the time that you spent, tuck those away for future use, too. For, while we leave behind a part of ourselves in those memories, they also helped us grow and become the person who now faces the future. There will be new friends to make, new job and life challenges to meet and new things to which to devote yourself. Perhaps you will stop and fondly remember someone from the past who taught you a life lesson that you are now applying in your new situation. That will not be a melancholy moment so much as a moment of joyful recollection and appreciation. Savor those moments and move on.

The only constant in life is change. The better we can accept change, deal with change, and use change to grow, the better our lives will be. Yes, the play is over, the old job is gone, an old relationship has ended; but you are still here. There will be new plays. There will be new jobs. There will always be new people to meet and new relationships to form. Take a moment to reflect and appreciate what was and then move on with the here and now.

Don’t get stuck in the melancholy of the past, there are too many exciting things and people ahead today.


Be the difference…

December 11, 2021

You can add to the message of the graphic that it not what you say but what you do that makes a difference. Knowing that something is wrong and even saying that something is wrong does little to change things. Taking action to bring about those changes is the only thing that counts.

Very often the things that may bother us as being wrong are much larger than just something that we can personally fix or right, and there is a tendency to let that put us off doing anything at all. Your actions may take the form of joining a protest march or writing a letter to authorities or maybe to your local paper. Change is often brough about through educational efforts to point out the wrong and making suggestions for fixing them.

The important things is not to let the size of the problem overwhelm your inclination to help. Food insecurity (we used to call it hunger) and homelessness are big, widespread problems, but they manifest themselves locally in smaller groups that you can impact by your own actions. Volunteering at your local food bank or at a local shelter helps with the problem in your neighborhood. If every neighborhood had groups and volunteers working on the problem, it would certainly be less than it is. At least you can be a part of the solution instead of just knowing or talking about the problem.

The next time you find yourself thinking about (or talking about) something that need attention or help, ask yourself, “So, what can I do about that?” Then don’t let yourself be put off by the size or pervasiveness of the problem. Keep thinking smaller and smaller until you think of something that you can do and do it. When you see a person in need, take action, not pity.

Be the difference…


What will you change today?

November 29, 2021

You woke up this morning. Great. Now what? It is a new day and a new chance to make changes in your life. It is a chance to forgive yourself for some past mistake and heed the advice of that great philosopher Alice Cooper, who said – “Mistakes are part of the game. It’s how well you recover from them, that’s the mark of a great player.”

The changes that you make each day don’t have to be big ones. In fact, trying to make huge changes in your life often leads to failure. However, making small incremental changes each day can alter the course of your life over time. Even seemingly inconsequential things like changing your route to get to work can have an impact by providing you with a different perspective on things. Wearing different clothes than you would “normally” wear puts you in a different frame of mind. Talking with someone that you would usually just walk by without acknowledgement may provide new insights into the seemingly ordinary things in life.

You do not need to just be focused upon correcting mistakes in your life. Many times, just finally acknowledging that you made a mistake and taking ownership of it is a difference maker. Sometimes, when you think about a mistake that you made in the past, you realize the impact that it had on the course of your life and can consciously decide if you want to get back on that original course. Career decisions are sometimes made that way.

Aside from dealing with mistakes, giving some thought to what you might need to change in your life is a positive thing. No one is perfect, so there may be little things that you can pay attention to, in order to improve. For many people, it is just resolving to make the effort to be more open and friendly to strangers that can open up their lives to a richer and more satisfying existence. For some is might be heeding the advice of Martin Fraquhar Tupper – “Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.”  

The point is to make the decision to change something in your life today and see where that decision takes you. It is bound to be somewhere you would not have ended up if you had not made that change. If it turns out to be a mistake; well, that’s what tomorrow’s change can address. That is what makes life interesting.

What will you change today?


What’s around the corner for you?

November 25, 2021

There is certainly the possibility of something different around every corner or over every hill. The optimist sees exciting opportunities ahead while the pessimist sees nothing but danger. What do you “see” when you are approaching a corner or a hill in your life?

All visions of the future are formed in our imaginations. You can imagine great and wonderful things to come, or you can foresee painful disasters, and both can come true. If you could choose, which would you prefer? The thing is that you can choose, at least for the imagining part.

Optimists aren’t necessarily born with a smile on their face. They develop a positive outlook on life as they mature by making positive choices and consciously deciding to live with a positive attitude. A big part of arriving at a positive state of mind is having a strong faith upon which to base that optimism. People without faith have nothing upon which to stand in the face of opposition or hardship; however, those with faith turn to God for strength and reassurance.

Not everything may be going right just now, but there is another bend or hill ahead and those with faith know that God will be waiting on the other side, and everything will be alright when you get there. Even if the curve or hill ahead is death, people of faith know that there is something wonderful on the other side for them.

What’s around the corner or over the hill for you? You can approach those changes with confidence when you have faith in God.


Admit it, learn from it, change…

June 19, 2021

I recently stumbled upon an inspirational site that has meaningful messages found in song lyrics from Disney movies, or maybe it stumbled upon me…I forget. Anyway, I must admit that I saw only a couple of the many Disney movies that were referenced at the site. I chose one of the posts to that site for my musings this morning.

Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong
— “Tale As Old As Time,” “Beauty and the Beast”

Setting aside for a moment that this is an animated movie and that the song was sung by a teapot, there is wisdom to be found in the lyrics.

The key insight in this message is “learning you were wrong”. How many of us fight long and hard not to have to admit that we were wrong? Wrong about a person or a place or thing; or, perhaps, wrong about in a long-held belief.

There is a series of commercials running right now about The General Insurance Company. The commercials feature Shaquille O’Neal and contain messages about people being wrong about the insurance company because of their past commercials. The message that it is trying to get across is that The General really is a serious and good insurance company, despite their past, silly commercials.

How often do we judge things and people by their appearance or through association with other people or events? THEY become stigmatized by being part of the group “THEM”, and we are happy to lump them all together and dismiss them because of that association in our minds. How lazy and wrong of us.

Each person that we meet deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt and we should use that old justice phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” in our minds before rushing to a judgement of association. About the only thing that one can tell, just by looking at them is that they are a human being. Anything else at that point is a guess and likely a bad one at that.

One might say, well I can see what color their skin is; to which I would answer, “and that means what?” Or, you might say I can tell what sex they are, which I might challenge in the case of androgynous looking people and would further question whether just looking at them how you can determine if they identify with what you think you see. These are the types of judgements that we rush to in our everyday lives and perhaps the most important to try to overcome – to change.

Learning you were wrong only comes after admitting that you were wrong, and that is the hard part for most. For most of us, our preconceived notions and prejudices become part of our defensive shields – the things that we keep up to protect us from harm (real or imagined). It is just safer and easier to avoid having to interact with “those kinds of people”, than to put our shields down take the time and make the effort to really see what kind of person they are.

Yet taking that time and making that effort is what leads to the “bittersweet and strange” part of the lyric, when you find a new friend in that person that you at first avoided.  You will find that you can change. Finding that you can change is the first step to admitting that you were wrong; and admitting that is the first step to learning, which eventually leads to wisdom. Perhaps that is why we associate wisdom with age – it takes us way too long to admit we were wrong and learn from it.

Take another step on your journey to wisdom today. Think about the conclusions or judgements that you make based solely upon how someone looks and challenge yourself make the effort to really get to know the people that you meet today before you make any judgement about them at all. Even them, take the advice of Pope Francis and ask yourself the question, “Who am I to judge?” Once you put down the gavel of judgement, you may find that you meet a lot more interesting and friendly people and maybe make a few new friends.

Find that you can change today!


You control your future…

December 30, 2020

In today’s post to his Blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “We shrink from change; yet is there anything that can come into being without it?”  (Marcus Aurelius) 

Many people do shrink from change because they fear the future; for them change is a scary thing and the future represents change and the unknown that they fear. Others dive headlong into the future, anticipating great things from the changes that it holds. Wherein lies the difference?

I would submit that the difference is in the attitudes that each has about themselves. The fearful see themselves as victims of the future, hapless and hopelessly being dragged into whatever calamities the future brings. The fearless see themselves meeting the challenges that they may encounter with persistent resolve to prevail. The fearful wish to hide, the fearless wish to overcome. What makes the difference?

I’ve posted here a few times about being at peace with yourself, which is the foundation of being fearless about the future. That foundation, like the foundation of a house, does not hold itself up. Before pouring the foundation of a house, the builder must first put in footings. I think most people know what footings are in construction terms – the reinforced concrete base upon which the foundation is built. I like the second definition in the dictionary – the basis on which something is established or operates.

I submit that people who are at peace with themselves (and thus fearless about the future) have established that foundation upon the footings of a strong faith in God. That faith is the basis upon which they operate and holds up the foundation of their life. No matter how scary the situation, when it gets down to the base of their foundation they find God there and they are reassured that when God is with them, nothing can prevail against them. That reinforces their foundation and allows them to overcome the fears arrayed against them. They find calm in the midst of chaos because their faith in God is the basis upon which they operate.

So, you need not shrink from the future nor be fearful of it. Instead, make sure that you start each day by reestablishing in prayer that you have based the foundation of your life upon the footings that your faith in God provides. The calm and strength that will settle over you, based upon that start, will carry you through the day and give you the right attitude to face whatever life throws your way.

While the future may be a bit scary, it also holds rewards for those brave enough to venture into it in search of better things. One does not find those rewards while hiding under their bed to avoid change. Be brave, be confident, be calm.

We are told in the Bible –

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

You control your future because you control yourself and that self-control is based upon the solid foundation that you have built on the footings of your faith in God.

Have a great day at peace with yourself and in control of your future.


A year of great discontent…

July 11, 2020

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, pastor Freed used this very apropos quote – “Progress is not created by contented people.”  (Frank Tyger)

One does not need to be a scholar or history buff to know that most, if not all, of the changes (both large and small) that have happened in America grew out of someone’s discontent with the status quo. Even at our beginning as a new nation, many in what became known as America were content to be subjects of England and the rule of the English King. Throughout our history as a nation is has been discontent that changed the course of that history. Our discontent with staying put on the eastern side of the continent took the form of “Manifest Destiny” that drove explorers (and later settlers) westward. Discontent with the immorality of slavery eventually led to the Emancipation Proclamation. Later, discontent with the social, legal and economic situation that had evolved in the nation, mostly in the southern regions of the country, led to the Civil Rights Movement. It could be said that man’s discontent with being stuck on the surface of our planet led to the creation of aviation and later space flight and our moon landing. There are tons of other examples and all were driven by someone’s discontent with the existing situation.

The word “content” is relatively benign. It means – “in a state of peaceful happiness”. For some who do not see the problems at hand, that may actually mean “in a state of blissful ignorance”. For others is more of a state of “resigned acceptance” of things that are wrong. A lack of concern about anyone but ourselves can lead to a state of numbness or callousness about the events happening around us. Others may take offense at any disturbance of their otherwise serene and prosaic environment.

The year 2020 is proving to be a year of great discontent. The discontent over the sexual exploitation of women in the educational, entertainment and business worlds carried over from 2019, with almost weekly exposures of new grievances. The jarring changes mandated by state governments in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic caused great discontent and exposed a long-festering rebellion against government authority and the basic concepts of society by groups on the fringes of society. Discontent boiled over into the streets in matters of race and inequality of opportunity in America. While the trigger for the protests in the street was the murder of a black man in Minnesota, the underlying discontent was with the continued and pervasive racial biases that dictate the day-to-day lives of people of color in America.

What will come out of all of this discontent? The hope is that changes will be made at a systemic level. Changes will be required to laws that support the bad behavior; but more importantly, changes will be required at the personal level. It really doesn’t matter if the law says it is illegal to discriminate, if we still do that in our hearts and minds at every encounter with someone different from us. That change will take longer and is impossible to legislate. Real change starts with you and with me. We must become discontented with not only the things that are happening around us that we know are wrong, but with our reaction (or lack of reaction) to those things. As I have opined here a few times, it is those “things left undone” that we must pray for forgiveness about, as well as the things that we may have done.

If you are to “love thy neighbor as yourself” you cannot start from a position of fear, hate and bias. Be discontented with that state of mind and seek to change it. Do not become satisfied and content with a state of affairs that positions you in comfort and safety while leaving many of those around you in poverty and despair. Take no comfort from your good fortune while ignoring the needs of your neighbors. Inequities are at the root of many of the problems that are causing the discontent that we see in our society right now – inequities of positional power or economics or opportunity. The systemic changes that are need must be aimed at identifying and righting those inequities.

If Tyger was right, this should be a year of great change, since it is already a year of great discontent. Let’s all look for the good that can come out of this discontent.


What to change to cause real change…

June 26, 2020

There is much in the news about demands for change and an end to discrimination of all types and the inequities that exist in our society. As I look back over quotes that I save from the Jack‘s Winning Words blog, two stood out as seeming to go together to provide a good starting point for accomplishing the needed changes.

“If you were to change the world, start with yourself.”  (Gandhi)

  • AND –

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  (Mary Engelbreit)

People almost never look in the mirror and honestly say to themselves – “You are a part of the problem.” It is always “they” or “them” who are at fault – the bigots and haters that we see on the news. Yet it is those who remain silent and let things go on that facilitate that bigotry or wrong behavior. The bully who goes unchallenged by his/her peers that continues to bully others. The bigot who refuses to perform a service for, or sell a product to, a gay couple will continue to discriminate. The police who treat people of color differently will continue to harass and kill with impunity. If we see it and don’t say or do something, then we are a part of the problem and not of the solution.

In our prayers for forgiveness at church we pray that God will forgive us for the things that we have done and the things left undone. It is in those things left undone that we become part of the problem. Today’s quotes direct us to spend more time in reflection on our own thoughts and actions (or inaction). A good start is to examine how the nightly news stories about the demonstrations against police brutality make you feel.

Most white viewers likely have little frame of reference for empathy with the black demonstrators, unless they have been stopped and perhaps roughly treated by the police sometime in their past. For the most part, white people don’t view a stop by the police as a life-threatening event – it’s just an inconvenience. Compare that to the interviews that you see on the news about how blacks view interactions with the police. Their fears are palpable.

Perhaps then, your lack of empathy or even your indifference to the obvious issues that exist for people of color is a part of the problem- part of the things left undone. If you feel like you can’t, by yourself, change the problem, then take Mary Engelbreit’s advice and change the way that you think about it. Let that change in thinking also drive changes in your life. Not everyone can join in the marches and demonstrations; however, everyone can vote and elect new officials who will affect the changes that are needed.  Everyone can change the way that they interact with people who are different from them. Often, it is just that interaction itself which makes the difference.

Heeding Gandhi’s advice means starting by recognizing where you are today and giving yourself the goals to be someplace else tomorrow. What can you change about yourself to make you the person that you’d really like to be? What can you do to get yourself out of the safe comfort zone of indifference to the plight of others?  Start by changing the way that you think about it.

Now, that’s real change.