You can’t stop it, but you can embrace it…

May 20, 2019

A post from the Jack’s Winning Words blog from some time back inspired me to write this morning – “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”  (Sydney J. Harris)

None of us can stop change from happening in our lives, but we can resolve to embrace the changes and make the best of whatever comes our way. Many try to resist changes in no-changetheir lives, even in the face of inevitability. They try to ignore the changes or refuse to acknowledge that they have taken place. They want things to remain the same as they always were. Some rail against change and try to roll back the clock. None of those approaches makes any difference. The changes occurred and there is no going back.  A better use of your time is trying to embrace the changes and adjust your life to accommodate them, as best that you can.

Some changes, such as the loss of a loved one or the dissolution of a relationship, are highly emotional and difficult to put behind you and move on.  However, move on youlife-choices must. That person is out of your life. Feelings of loss are natural; however, feelings that you cannot go on without them are what can lead to depression or worse. Rather, try to embrace that change by celebrating the memories of the good times that you had together and being thankful for those times. Make the place where you store the memories of them a good place to go and not a sad place. Try to find comfort in those memories and not sadness.

Sometimes change points us off in very new directions in life – a job change, a graduation, a wedding. There are usually remnants of the past still in or lives, but many new things, too. The key in those changes may well be understanding how to let go of the decisionsthings from the past that just don’t work anymore or embracing the new elements into the context that we brought with us. Welcoming and embracing the spouse that is the new member of the family or accepting the adult individual that your son or daughter has become, come to mind. Maybe embracing a new role as a grandparent is the change that you are facing. Whatever it is; you can’t stop it, but you can choose to embrace it.

Take some time to stop and think about the changes that have occurred in your life and reflect on how you have reacted to them. Are you in denial that they have occurred? Areproblem-solver you fighting against the new reality in your life or have you embraced those changes? Once you realize what has changed and how it is effecting your life, you can take steps to embrace the changes and figure out how best to adjust your life to accommodate them. Once you do that, things will get better.

Have a great week ahead dealing with changes in your life.

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Start with a mirror…

January 3, 2019

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this quote – “I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but I still keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should figure it out.”  (David Sedaris)

Most of us have probably had thoughts of “changing” someone that we meet during the day, whether it be making physical changes to the way that they look to changing their behavior. Many marriages end in divorce because one of the parties was unsuccessful in getting their mate to change into what they wanted them to become. Perhaps it is human nature, or human ego, that leads us to believe that we can effect change in others.look in miror

The reality is that the only person that we have the power to change is the one that we see when we look into a mirror. We can change how we interact and react in our encounters with others. We have the power to change or abandon the preconceived notions that we have when we encounter someone who looks different or is dresses different or who talks differently from us. We can control or stop the rush to judgement over the statements or actions of others. We can change that person that we see in the mirror.

Our interactions with others, and our reactions to others, is based off our own frame of reference – our backgrounds and the circumstance that lead us to this place and time. Somehow, we have less problem giving deference to the differences in people that we can identify as having come from a foreign land. After all, they didn’t come from the complimentsame frame of reference that we have. Yet the same idea holds true for all of the people around us; we just don’t give a break to those that we see as coming from environments that we believe are the same as ours. But are those environments really the same? We can change that person that we see in the mirror.

Is the difference in background environments from ours any less dramatic for someone that grew up in an urban housing project than for someone who just immigrated from another part of the world? Why would we give the benefit of the doubt and try harder to “understand” the one and not try with both? Is there any reason to become immediately boredsuspicious of or frightened by someone of color or someone who is very large? How can I explain my reaction to the color of someone’s hair or the clothes that they choose to wear? These things are not things that I can change; however, I can change how I let them affect me and how I react to them. We can change that person that we see in the mirror.

The first step to making changes to that person you see in the mirror is stopping to understand that a reaction has just been triggered within you to something in that person whom you just encountered. Was it fear? Was it a prejudice? Was it a lack of understanding of their frame of reference?  Is it real or imagined? We can change that person that we see in the mirror.

Once you stop and take that moment to recognize your initial reaction, you can begin to make the changes in you that control those reactions. If you can recognize and deal with those triggers before you actually act or react, you will have gone a long way towardsfacing new day becoming a better person and will likely find that your life becomes much more satisfying. It’s like moving from a monochromatic view of the world into a full Technicolor world. Living without the fears and prejudices that were dictating your life will allow you to embrace the diversity around you and learn from the different backgrounds of those that you encounter. We can change that person that we see in the mirror.

life-choicesSo, don’t worry about changing others. Look in the mirror and try to get that person straightened out. You’ll be glad that you did. We can change that person that we see in the mirror…and they will be a better person for that change.


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.


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.