Change the future…touch a life…

April 16, 2018

From today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog post comes this gem sent in by one of his followers. If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.  If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.  If you want to touch the future, touch a life.”  (Sent by Al Weidlich)

That thought about changing the future by touching a life is the foundation of many organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, AA and NA and many more. It is all about touching other people and showing them compassion and caring. Those “touches” have the power to change people’s lives. Coincidentally they also change the lives of those who reach out to touch others.

We have become a society that is distracted and entertained by technology to such ancouple-looking-at-phones extent that we don’t look away from it long enough to see the lives that need touching as they pass us by. How can one see the distress and fear in the eyes of someone in need, if our eyes are glued to the screens of our smartphones? How can one have the conversation that leads to understanding of those needs if one is busy texting someone else with the handshakelatest “news” of our day?

Perhaps it is time to put away our technology and look around to see the people who share our lives. They may not be friends right now; but they could be. They may not need help right now; but they might. You will never know the pleasure of having them as a friend or the joy of helping them with a problem if you never take the time to reach out and touch their life. Something as simple as a friendly greeting may be all it takes to engage them enough to touch their life. Instead of looking away as you pass, look at them and see them as a person that it might be interesting to know.

Sure there is time to touch the past, whether it be a rock or an old photo; and there is time to touch the present, which we do with the things around us every day; but, it is our ability to touch the future and make a difference in it by touching the lives of others that is exciting. Touching things from the past or present has little impact upon them (other than perhaps to leave a fingerprint); however, we can change the course of history by complimenttouching and improving the lives of others. How powerful is that? Nothing else that you will do with your life will have greater impact than changing the lives of others for the better.

So, reach out this week and touch the lives of others. At the end of the day, think back on the opportunities to touch other lives that you took and those that you missed and resolve to do better tomorrow. I think that you will also realize the powerful changes that have occurred in your life because you made that effort and because others have made the effort to touch your life.

Put down those phones and stay in touch.

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Change your life today…

March 26, 2018

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s tip – “Big sweeping life changes really boil down to small, everyday decisions.”  (Ali Vincent)

Jack went on to write – In meteorology it’s called, The Butterfly Effect…how small changes in a weather system can cause big variations.  That’s why forecasts aren’t always correct.

The theory of the butterfly effect is that the flapping of the wings of a single butterflyButterflies somewhere in the world caused enough change in the movement of the atmosphere to cause minute changes to the weather patterns in the entire world. If you’ve ever wondered why it may be raining across the street, but not on your house, perhaps it was a butterfly somewhere in Asia that was flapping it’s wings that caused that weather pattern. At least it’s more fun to think of that butterfly flapping away in Asia than dwelling on the fact that it may be raining.

Back to the quote. One of the things that sometimes holds us back in life is spending too much time thinking about what we see as the big problems in our lives, rather than making the small decisions that can eventually lead to life changes. Jack also wrote about a recent news article that covered the health aspect of doing just a little exercise every day and eating several small meals during the day, rather than a few large one. I’m man lifting weightscertainly guilty of procrastination about exercise. When the gym that I was going to closed, I told myself that I’d join another gym and get back to regular exercise. I’m still telling myself that. I’ve been looking at it as a big decision, when in reality there was a small decision that I could have made to do a little exercise at home each day, until I found a new gym. It’s time to make that small decision and change my life. Time for some home burpees.

What small, everyday decisions have you been putting off in your life? Why? Isn’t it time to do something, no matter no how small t may seem, to move off that dime? Make that first, small decision to change something in your life and see how it begins to affect your life overall.

Here’s a suggestion. Make the decision to start each day with a moment of silent prayer.woman-praying Reconnect with God each morning and put your trust in what He has in store for your life today. I use the little prayer that I’ve posted here many times – “Not my will, but Thy will be done”.  You will find that you start each day with a new attitude when you take that moment to reconnect and reassure yourself that God is with you. That new attitude and the aura of God working through you will carry over into the decisions that you make that day, which can’t help but change your life and the world around you. You will become God’s “butterfly effect” on the world.

Make your little ripple in life’s fabric and be prepared to be swept along in the life changes that will occur. Change your life today.


Make the choice to change your life…

February 25, 2017

“Choices, Chances, Changes.  You must make a Choice to take a Chance, or your life will never Change.”  (Quote Observations) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

In life inertia and momentum often work together to keep us from changing our lives forlife-choices the better. Inertia keeps us glued to one spot, to one way of thinking or to our prejudices. Momentum keeps us headed in the same direction, rather than take a different path.

There is a comfort to be found in always doing the same things, never making changes or trying new things. One of my dad’s favorite phrases was “go with what you know.” At the same time, there is a discomfort to be experienced because one doesn’t ever try anything new. It is that haunting feeling that you may be missing something that is really much more rewarding than staying the course. You may never meet Mr. or Ms. Right, if you never venture away from the path that has kept you from meeting them thus far. An old saying states that “opposites attract”, but you’ll never know if that’s true if you only associate with people who are the same as you. You must take a chance to make that change in your life.

new-way-forwardYou may say that you are happy with your life as it is; happy to be in the little rut that you’ve carve out for yourself in life by treading the same path every day. Yet most of us have enough self-awareness to know that there may be (must be) something more to life; something that will increase our sense of self-worth and accomplishment; something that is currently missing in or lives. That something is likely not on the well-worn path that you are on; otherwise you might have encountered it by now. You have the choice to make to take a chance or not, in order to change your life for the better by finding that missing element in your life.

For some in the GLBTQ world the choice is whether to come out of the closet or not and todiversity live openly in the lifestyle in which they feel most comfortable. For Transsexuals it is the choice to identify and live with the gender that they feel in their heart, not the gender that was inscribed on their birth certificate. For everyone on that spectrum it is the choice to take the chance to change their lives by living openly as they wish to live, instead of hiding their identities in fear.

For many the change that they seek is found in service to others. It is in that service that caregiverthey find the missing sense of accomplishment and self-worth that their day-to-day work life was not supplying. For some the change may be to finally establish a relationship with God, through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as their savior. Many may have gone through the motions of going to church all of their lives and never taken that final step of accepting Christ. Make the choice to take that chance and change your life forever.

Have a great weekend.


Be extraordinary, try something different today…

January 17, 2017

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to live with the ordinary.”  (Jim Rohn) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog so time back.

One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “go with what you know”. Dad was not a risk-taker and like to stay within his comfort zone on things like the choice of a restaurant or maybe a clothing brand. He also avoided going on vacations to anyplace that he didn’t know, which my mom hated. She traveled extensively after his death. He was not willing to risk the unusual, so he lived a very predictable and ordinary life.

Today we call the avoidance of the unusual “staying in our comfort zone.” That concept can extend to all aspects of our lives, including the interpersonal relationships that wecomfort-zone develop. Many times we might avoid people who seem to be different from us and our normal friends, because they are unusual – not like us. Maybe they look different or dress differently. Maybe they have a nose ring or spiked hair. Perhaps they are a different color or perhaps speak with an accent that is unfamiliar to us. For whatever reason, we choose to avoid them and go with what we know. How sad for us.

I have posted often here about diversity and the benefits of trying to understand different points of view. People who are different from us bring new perspectives into the conversation. They look at things differently from us and many may see things that we missed or overlooked. Certainly, they have come to different conclusions they we did and there is value in trying to understand how and why that happened. In doing so we may be different-points-of-viewintroduced to a different set of life experiences than we had, which shaped their view of the world. We may even discover how insular and one-dimensional our lives have been, compared to the experiences of others.

Perhaps we never have had people pointing at us and calling us names. Maybe we didn’t experience the horrors of war at a very young age. It’s likely that we didn’t have to endure the dangers of a long migration in hopes of finding sanctuary. Maybe we didn’t undergo incestuous rape while growing up. Perhaps we were not denied something just because of our color. Maybe we didn’t struggle with gender identity questions while growing up or fear that someone would find out that we were attracted to those of the same sex as us. We probably didn’t have to deal with the stigma of having a disease that left us visibly disfigured or with a condition that left us unable to socialize with others. So, how could we possibly see things from those perspectives?

What difference do any of those things make? They each contribute to seeing things
differently and each provides a perspective that we can learn from, if we take the risk, get out of the ordinary, and try something different by meeting someone different from us. Sometimes in order to do that we might also have to go somewhere different. One cannot expect to sit comfortably in the familiar surroundings of one’s home and have differentlistening toi music people trooped by you, so that you can meet them. You have to get out in the community and go places and do things that are different.

One of the more comfortable settings that we become complacent about is the church. It feels comfortable to be in our own church, among fellow Christians who are of a like mind. Going to church has become as much a social event as a religious one for most Christians. It is time to greet each other and feel good to be among friends. There is time to chat before and after (and sometimes during) the service and sometimes there are hospitality events (coffee hours) right after the service. It’s all very comforting and comfortable. For many it is also easy to check their faith at the door and leave it at the church, not to be needed until the next weekend.

A few, however, don’t check their faith at the door, but wear their Christianity out into the community during the week and share the Good New through service to others. Those few also get the added benefit of experiencing people with whom they would not normally associate and listening to people with different points of view. It may be taking meals seerving othersto shut-in through the Meals-on-Wheels program, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen or an organization like Community Sharing. Whatever the job, it does get you out of the ordinary and expose you to things and people that you would not ordinarily meet. Whether you realize it at the time, or not; your life is richer for the experiences.

You don’t have to go out and volunteer somewhere to change your life by doing something different or meeting someone different. Opportunities for change are all around us every day; we just don’t see them or look for them. The easiest way to see an opportunity for change is to just ask yourself, “Why am I doing it this way or going this way or making this decision?” if the only answer that you can really come up with is, “Because I always do that”; then you have hit upon something that you can do differently today and see what impact that has on your life. Surprise yourself and do something different today. Risk the unusual. Be extraordinary.

Have a great and unusual day.


Stretch your mind and grow as a person…

December 2, 2016

Recently Jack Freed posted this quote to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “A mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”  (O.W. Holmes Jr)

Jack went on to write – Dr Robert Cooper, a neuroscientist, says that we only use 10% of our brains.  We have programed ourselves not to stretch into new thinking.  “We’ve always done it this way!”  But, a willingness to explore new ways can open us to limitless ideas.  Have you had an “aha!” moment?  (Now, I get it it!) 

I belong to several local community organizations and serve on the boards of some. One of the things that I hear very often when something new is proposed in board meetings is the phrase. “We’ve always done it that way.” Usually this is in defense of resisting any change or anything that no-changeis new and different. In fact it is often used preemptively, before the idea is even discussed to try to shut down new ideas or suggestions of change before they even get a hearing. If can be very frustrating, especially if I believe that the changes or new idea are necessary to keep the group viable in the community.

Many small, volunteer community organizations (and even churches) die out because they resist all efforts to make changes that would keep them relevant to the changes in society within which they exist. Small, traditional churches seem to be having the most trouble staying alive in today’s highly secular environment. Many small local groups have particular trouble making the changes that will keep them relevant within their local community. The trouble is that the “we’ve always done things this way” mentality prevails over most suggestions for change or trying new things. Hopefully that is about to change, due to them having “Aha” moments before it’s too late. If not, those organizations will slowly disappear from our communities, although few may even notice.

At a personal level, we all need to challenge ourselves to expand our thinking and our experiences and to continuing growing as people. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “Go with what you know.” My wife and I often use that when considering where to go out for dinner on weekends. It is so much easier to choose from our short list of well-known local favorites that to be adventuresome and try a new restaurant. Yet, when we reflect on it, all of the great places that we like to go now were once in the unknown category and it is only through trying something new that we “discovered” them.

comfort-zoneIn life in general the same thing is true. If you never get out of your comfort zone and venture into new relationships with people, you may never meet the person that becomes your BFF or even your life partner. If you shun those who are not like you, you will never get to understand their point of view on things and miss out on the new colors that they could add to the pallet of colors through which you see and experience life. You will never have that “Aha” moment when you understand why they do or say the things that they do, because of their completely different frame of reference for life. If you just go with what you know and who you know, life can become very boring indeed.

Many people find safety and comfort in the sameness of never venturing into the unknown experience or meeting the unknown person; however, even they must admit to themselves that those carefree risk takers who always seem to be meeting other people and doing new things appear goth-personto be having a better time than those pressed back against the walls in fear of trying anything new.

So, take a chance. Say hello to that person with tattoos and a nose ring and purple hair. Engage them in conversation and find out more about them. They are, after all someone’s son or daughter, someone’s boy or girl friend, maybe even someone’s wife or mother. They have opinions and feelings and life experiences that may be different from yours and maybe you’ll expand your mind by trying to understand those things. You may even find that you share a lot of common ground, too.

Instead of turning away from the LBGTQI person that you encounter, engagement them in lbgtqi-symbolconversation. They won’t bite you and standing there talking with them is not going to give you some horrible disease. Being open to them doesn’t mean that you are joining or even agreeing with whatever movement or lifestyle they are pursuing; it just means that you accept that there are differences and hopefully that you welcome the opportunity to try to see things from their different perspective.

So stretch your mind and grow. Try something different. Eat somewhere different. Meet someone who is different. Think differently. Grow and you won’t want to go back.

Before you go with what you know; grow with what you don’t know.


How many lives have you lived?

February 6, 2016

“We all have two lives.  The second one begins when we realize that we only have one.”  (Unknown) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Of course Jack was referring to the life that we live, once we become cognizant of the inevitable and consider intelligently the alternatives.

I recall (and this goes back a long way, so don’t worry if you don’t remember this) a TV show called “I Led Three Lives”, which was on TV from October 1, 1953 to January 1, 1956. It was loosely based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, a Boston advertising executive who infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party on behalf of the FBI in the 1940s and wrote a bestselling book on the topic, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, ‘Communist’, Counterspy (1952). The part of Philbrick was played by Richard Carlson. The whole Communist and counterspy thing was a cold-war favorite back then.

I would submit that we all live multiple lives, which has not only to do with our spirituality, but also with the secrets that we chose to keep from the rest of the world. secrtetsThose secrets take on a life of their own. The life of Herbert Philbrick sometimes became very complicated as he worked to make sure that the secret life that he was leading for the FBI didn’t somehow spill over or disturb the other lives he led and a family man and a businessman. Our lives can get like that as we try to juggle the “facts” of the various lives that we might be leading. It is trying to keep track of the facts verse the lies that becomes complex when you lead multiple lives. It is an oft-used phrase that, “my life is an open book”; however, it is often a book with a few chapters that the speaker chooses to leave out.

If we get back to the original premise of the quote in Jack’s post; the quote seems to be saying that we begin living a different or second life once we begin to deal with our own mortality. It’s not like you wake up one morning and think, “Oh crap, I’m going to die someday.” When we are younger we certainly hear about the life expectancy of normal humans, but it seems more like and abstraction than a reality. As we age, there comes adeath point at which we start thinking about the “end game” in our own lives. For most people it is something that is there, in the back of your mind for years, which slowly works its way forward until it demands some thought time and attention.

So, now that it’s up at the front of the line; how do we deal with it? How does our second life differ from our first? For many this is the time when faith and religion also turn from an abstraction and a perfunctory duty into something that we take seriously. Some also begin to obsess about their legacy – how they will be remembered by those still here, once they are gone? For almost all there is a feeling of fear. Death is the greatest unknown of all. Is there something after death? Will I still be me? Will I see those who have gone before me again? Is there a Heaven and a Hell? Where can I turn to get answers?

Most major religions of the world have some description of an afterlife within their beliefs. Not surprisingly, given man’s ego, most of those descriptions revolve around us somehow being the same, conscious being we are now but in some different form. Some religions have created elaborate descriptions of the afterlife, most of it revolving around the deceased getting or having everything that he/she ever wanted. Some have posited a state of everlasting peace and contentment. Some describe it as being like a waiting room until you return to earth as someone or something else.

If you embrace Christianity in any of its many forms, then you also embrace the concept of everlasting life and the belief that you will end up in a place called Heaven for eternity. There are only snippets of descriptions of Heaven in the Bible which allude to a house of many rooms and a place flowing with milk and honey. Even the writers of the Bible could not avoid using earthly references when trying to describe what is indescribable.

It really doesn’t matter how you describe the place that you think you will go after death; what matters is that you hold a belief that there is something for you after death. And if Jesusyou are a Christian, you understand that the only way to enter the place that is there for you is through your belief in Jesus Christ. For all who truly embrace Jesus there is a lifting of the fear of death, for it was His promise that, through his death on the cross, He had forever banished death from those who believed in Him.

The second life that you will live, once you have come to that belief will be much different than your life up to that point. For most there is a sense of calm and relief whenhelper they embrace the saving grace of Jesus. For some there is a new sense of purpose and a desire to share the good news. For a few there is a sense of mission that leads to a new way of life. For all of those people the starting point to that new life is the removal of the fear of death.

How many lives have you lived?


Change your future today…

September 2, 2015

“Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.”  ― Ashleigh Brilliant

It certainly does no good to wallow in the past, especially if you use that as an excuse to do nothing in the present. afraidBetter that you should start changing your future by doing things today. Start by doing a quick and honest assessment of where you are today (not how you got there). Consider what are the issues or challenges that you face today and what do you need to do about them? Break bigger challenges down into smaller pieces or steps that you can take, one at a time, prioritize those small steps and then step off – start doing.

You will find that, even if you don’t initially realize it, in the doing you forget to spend time thinking about what’s passed. You are busy making your future. And when you get done with each task, take George C.  Marshall’s advice –

“When a thing is done, it’s done.  Don’t look back.  Look forward to your next objective.” 

 The advice of both Brilliant and Marshall look to the future, rather than the past. Brilliant seems to be more the dreamer and Marshall the more pragmatic, but both are heading you in the same direction – your future.

That is another important thing to keep in mind and one that I’ve written about her in the past – there is always a future. Every event in life that I spent time dreading and overthinking came and went without the apocalyptic end that I had imagined. Yes, some of them were painful, either emotionally or physically, but they passed and I was still there; life goes on and I was still standing. You will be, too. You will also learn that the solution to life’s disappointments, pains and trials is not to be found in a bottle or a pill, but within you and through actions.

Bottom line – you have a future and what that future is will change, depending upon what you start making it be today.  Here’s another  thought to get you started –

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”  ― John Guare

Finally, for those afraid of the future, there is help within your faith –  me

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ― Corrie ten Boom

You can change your future today with a simple little prayer – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Now that’s doing something about your future!