How are your shoes?

October 5, 2016

“Between the saying and the doing, many a pair of shoes are worn out.”  (Iris Murdoch) old-shoe– as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently. Jack went on to mention the applicability of the skepticism expressed in that little saying, especially  as it applies to current politics.

Perhaps we have come to expect empty words from our politicians, promises not kept and bombastic rhetoric and boosts about abilities that they really don’t have; but, what about our own words and actions? Do people take what you say debaterswith a grain of salt or do they take your words as a commitment that they can count upon? Do you casually toss of commitments that you later find easy to blow off?  How many pairs of shoes do you wear out between the saying and the doing?

There is another, more optimistic way to look at this little saying and that is that one can wear out many pairs of shoes while doing what one has said they will do. In other words you are working hard to meet your commitments and expectations. It is from that more optimistic view that phrases like, “His word is his bond” came from. We all know people like that; people that you can count on when the chips are down and every day.

Jack posted another little saying some time ago, which I saved because I knew it would come in handy someday –

“If you’re not going to tell the truth, then why start talking?”  (Gene Wilder)

Jack posted that right after Wilder’s death. It certainly ties in well with the thoughts about saying and doing. If what we are saying is not the truth; but, rather, just something that we think the listener wants to hear, then why say it at all. That is especially true of making “commitments”.

It is all too easy to join in the chorus of those in a group who seem to be committing to do man with talk ballonsomething without any real sense that you are actually going to do it. It makes you feel good at the time that you “commit” – Yeah I signed up, I joined the group, I’m part of the “:in-crowd”. But, when it comes to actually do what you committed to maybe you are the one that always has that last minute conflict or change of plans that prevents you from being there.

Don’t think that others don’t notice. They may not call you out on it, but they do start discounting your commitments and you earn the label of unreliable. They know that there will be a lot of shoes worn out between your saying and doing.

On the opposite side of things is the person that everyone knows that they can count dependableupon; the person who is always there when needed; the person who is so reliable that we begin to take them for granted. Those are the people that hold things together when the going gets tough. That person wears out many pairs of show doing, rather than just talking.

About them Gretchen Rubin said –

“Being taken for granted is an unpleasant but sincere form of praise. Ironically, the more reliable you are, and the less you complain, the more likely you are to be taken for granted.”

People who are truly doers, instead of just talker, seldom worry about being taken for granted because they find inner peace from the satisfaction of accomplishing what they said they would do.

So, how are your shoes? Are you wearing them out doing the things that you say or do many pairs wear out between the saying and the doing? Can others count on you or do they discount your “commitments”?

Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” How will people know you? How are your shoes?

Enduring love is better than momentary passion…

March 30, 2015

‘Passion is momentary; love is enduring.”  – John Wooden

I’ve posted comments here a few times about the difference between passion (in the sense of the physical attractions and interactions between people) and true love. John Wooden’s little quote certainly applies to that scenario. The momentary enjoyment of passion for someone may masquerade as love in the minds of the participants for some time, maybe even years; however, eventually it is not enough gloss over the things that are missing without a base of true happy ceoupl silouettelove. Saying “I love being with you” (in the sexual sense) is not the same as saying “I love you”. It is the realization of this mistake that eventually leads divorces. Eventually there just isn’t enough sex and pleasure from it to cover up the things that aren’t there in the relationship. Eventually the haze of lust lifts and the warts that were hidden by it show through or the scars that were caused by other aspects of the relationship are no longer hidden.

Love, on the other hand, grows out in the open, midst the warts and the pains, the ups and downs in the relationship. Love embraces and builds upon the concept of friendship. People truly in love will often self-identify their life mate as being also their best friend in life. Don’t misunderstand that I’m somehow saying that you should substitute being a friend with your life mate for a healthy sex life. This is not an “either or” thing, but it needs to be an AND thing. There are many other dimensions to a loving relationship that also need friends holdi handsto be cultivated and developed; such as trust, dependability, honesty, openness, vulnerability and understanding. Look into any failed marriage and you will see that some or all of those things never developed between the partners. Those things are also traits of someone whom we would call an adult; someone who has grown up. It is not uncommon for the behavior of one of the parties in a divorce to be characterized as childish and that is probably true, that man or woman just never grew up and never accepted the role and responsibilities of an adult. For them being married was a big game of “playing house” in between the good parts in bed.

To get back to the basketball coach tie-in, I’ve often heard that this or that player has a true love of the game or the sport. They are not just passionate about it; most athletes have a passion for the sports that that participate in; however those who truly love the game embrace it at a different level and that dedication is something that coaches and other’s can see in them. It is an appreciation for the game’s history and traditions. They are recognized as students of the game. They study it. They appreciate its finer points and they understand where it came from, where it is and where it might go (in fact many of them go on to take the games to the next level). Many of these athletes end up as coaches of the game that they love. They had a passion for the game while they were actively playing it and they went on to turn that passion into a true love of the game.

In life, many of us never take that next step up from the passion that got us
loving coupletogether in the first place. We never explore more about our life partner than their body. We never care enough about what they want outside of the sex to understand why that isn’t enough. We never become friends, because we are too busy and too satisfied being lovers. How sad, if that is the case. The greatest opportunity that one will ever have in life to truly be happy may be with that person with whom you are already enjoying great sexual passion. If you cannot take that next leap of faith with them and truly open up and commit yourself to a loving relationship, then prepare yourself for the failure to come – the sex part is just not enough to carry you through. It’s interesting how many times I’ve talked to guys who were clueless that they were about to be divorced because they thought everything was going great (at least in bed) or who thought that having great sex would make up for everything else. It turned out there was nothing else and now they’re asking – “what happened?”

I can’t lay all of the blame on the guys here; because many women go into the relationships that fail for the same reason. The women, however, tend to be the ones who recognize that they want and need more from the relationship that just the passion. Some speak up about it (the clueless guys call that nagging), but some just suffer in silence until they reach the breaking point. I guess if I had some advice for them (and here I’m stepping way outside my comfort zone) it would be not to keep quiet; maybe nagging is the wrong way to do it, perhaps teaching is a better way to look at it. Remember that I’ve already said that most of the guys are clueless as to what you really want in a relationship, so it is up todog you to help them understand. Watch a few puppy training shows on TV and figure out how to use the “correct and reward” system that the trainers use. If that sounds too simple or silly, it isn’t. There is no more loyal companion, willing to give you unconditional love, than a well trained puppy/dog. (Don’t get upset guys, remember the reward part and it only gets better if you can learn and embrace how to play your part.)

Enough already about dog training. I may be wandering too close to the kinky sunday walkside by going there. The point is still that you need to develop the relationship beyond the passion in order to get to a truly loving relationship. That requires work. Those who do work at it are the ones who celebrate their 50th wedding anniversaries instead of ending up in divorce court. Live in the moment, enjoy the passion; but, make the effort to  build an enduring relationship with the one that you want to be there to celebrate that 50th anniversary.

Dive into the deep end of life…

February 15, 2015

When you’re a young child and your parents take you to the swimming pool, they might start you out in the kiddie pool – it’s shallow, it’s warm and feels good and it’s kiddie poolsafe for you. You can splash around there and the security of mommy being nearby is reassuring. As you grow older you eventually step over the little wall that separates the pools and enter the big pool. Still you stay down at the shallow end. The water is deeper and maybe you can actually swim a little now; however, it is comforting to know that if you tire, you can put your feet down and stand up.

Still later in life, most eventually venture into the deep end. Maybe you have floatees or swim noodles on the first time into those uncharted water, but you soon cast those off, embarrassed to require them now that you are swimming with the big boys. In the deep end, you must be able to swim because you can no longer touch the bottom with your feet. It is in this end that you can get into real trouble. It is in this end that your struggles and panic can drag others down with you. This is the deep end. This is life.

People grow and mature in body and mind at different rates, especially when looking at emotional maturity. The swimming pool experience provides a good metaphor for life. Some never leave the kiddie pool emotionally or perhaps don’t venture any further into emotional relationships than the shallow end where they can safely stand up and walk back away. A few never want to lose track of mommy and some cling to their emotional floatation devices forever. Listen to groups of teenage girls or even women
swimming pool
talking about their relationships and you’ll soon hear a litany of descriptions of boys and men who are still in the kiddie pool emotionally or who refuse to go beyond the shallow end in their relationships. These are usually frustrated women who are looking for guys who are willing to commit to the deep end of life with them, ready to discard their insecurities (and floatees) and commit to swimming together with them in a deep commitment to life together.

Sure they could go back to the shallow end and enjoy some meaningless physical relationship and maybe even have some fun for a time. Some do from time to time. And maybe they’ve had an experience with an insecure partnert clinging to them and trying to drag them down when they ventured into the deep end and struggled to keeplovers on the beach afloat. Eventually one finds that partner who is not afraid in the deep end and who provides the mutual support to help keep both of you afloat. That requires an ability to let down one’s guard and to be emotionally open. Like the game where you turn around, close your eyes and fall backwards, trusting that your partner will catch you and not let you be hurt; swimming in the deep end means swimming together with that level of openness and trust. That’s a hard, hard thing for many guys and for many women, too.

As you assess where you are in life emotionally, especially if you are in a relationship that is at that step-off point to the next level; ask yourself if you are ready for the deep end with this person? Are you willing to take off the floatees that you have been comfortable with – the guarded independent image that you have of yourself, the rock, the island image (Simon & Garfunkel had a song about that) – and instead open your heart and your mind to allow the new experiences dive inthat wait in the deep end of life. One cannot truly experience life until he can let go of “me” and fully embrace the concept of “we”. That’s what defines the deep end of life. Once you have tasted life at its fullest in that end of the pool of life, the shallow end will never be anything but that – shallow. Dive into the deep end of life!

Three little words that can change your life… Where’s the beef?

April 22, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I must give my wife credit for suggesting this blog topic. You may recall the Wendy’s commercials featuring Clara Peller with that iconic question – Where’s the beef? If not, click here for a refresher. Clara was all the rage for her short period of fame. Let’s look at those three little words in a different context.

In times past, one might spend hours in conversation with someone else or take the time to write a nice long letter to them.  We have more recently become a society enamored of shorter and more vacuous and certainly less personal forms of communications, such as Instant Messages, Facebook posts or Twitter tweets. One can almost imagine Clara looking at some of these so-called methods of communications, especially tweets, and asking, “Where’s the beef?”

blah-blahIn day-to-day life, you may encounter people with whom you can talk for some time and yet not really learned anything important, sometimes not even why you were talking about in the first place. Apparently many of these people seem to believe that you already know what it is that they are trying to say, because the phrase “you know” is thrown in quite often.  I often just want to grab them and say, “I don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to find out.” A discussion with some of these people may be likened to taking a big bite of cotton candy. You just want to scream – “Where’s the beef?”

Of course one who is want to criticize others must also hold the mirror up to one’s own practices. Do I say, “Hey, we’ve got to talk” and then proceed to beat around the bush because I don’t really want to confront an issue? If someone asks my opinion on a something do I give it honestly, but tactfully; or do I hem and haw and spout back some nambie pambie pabulum designed not to offend.  When challenged do I put up or shut up. Is it not fair then to ask of myself – “Where’s the beef?”

young coupleIn asking the question metaphorically that Clara ask in the hamburger ad, one must be careful to define what “the beef” would be in the particular situation in question. In the case of love, for instance, the question may be about the relationship and the “beef” might equate to commitment. One can be in love and in a relationship, but is it a committed relationship? Now, I don’t mean to imply that commitment equates immediately to a marriage proposal; however, one party or the other sensing a lack of commitment on the part of the other party is certainly justified in asking – “Where’s the beef?”

We just celebrated Easter and Christians everywhere are justifiably puffed up about themselves and their faith; but what of next week or next month? Will we still be full of the spirit and out doing God’s work or will our day-to-day lives have once again overwhelmed our Easter-fueled resolve to be better people? “Belief means nothing without actions” ― Randa Abdel-Fattah.  Are we living out faith through our daily actions and the example that we set or are the people around us justified when it comes to our faith of asking – “Where’s the Beef?”

And what about your personal integrity? I wrote about making commitments to others at the beginning of April in the post, I’ve got this. It is important that people believe that you will come through on your commitments. When you say that you’ll be somewhere or do something and make man with talk ballonthe commitment, do people know that they can count on your word or do they silently whisper to themselves – Yeah, right – Where’s the beef?

So today’s post is all about substance over style, substance over fluff, and substance over flowery rhetoric. Well before Clara uttered her famous line, Mark twain said, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” No one will question the person who is busy doing; but for those who spend more time talking than doing it is appropriate bring on Clara and let her ask, “Where’s the beef?”

So, the real answer in life to Clara question is found by examining your actions. Will people find you to be a huge, fluffy bun with a tiny little burger hidden inside, as Clara and her friends found in the commercial; or will your life look like those big juicy burger patties that Wendy’s was advertising, bursting over the side of the bun. At the end of the day make sure that no one can look you in the eye and ask – “Where’s the beef?”

Three little words that can change your life… I’ve got this. (14 of ?)

April 4, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

In yesterday’s post I talked about facing the world with a “Bring it on” attitude. Today let’s look at one thing positive that you can do when you go into the day with that kind of positive approach. In  previous posts I discussed being at peace by letting things be. I also wrote about taking action to solve your problems or reaching out to others to help with their problems.

Today let’s talk about taking responsibility to get something done for yourself or for others. We are all witnesses to many cases of need in other people. For the most part those instances are fleeting. They pass by us or we pass by them and the busymoment is
quickly lost to take any action or to offer help. It can be really little things, like not holding a door open for someone with their arms full of packages at the Post Office or maybe not stopping to fish the change out of your pocket as you scurry by the Salvation Army Kettle at Christmas. How hard would it have been to stop and help? It starts by saying to yourself, “I’ve got this.”

helping elderlyMaybe you’ve been to a funeral visitation and overheard someone in the family worrying out loud about who will walk their dog today or get in their mail. Perhaps you’ve driven by an elder care facility and seen a lonely face starting out the window at passing cars, in hopes that there might be a visitor in one. It could be that your neighbor next door is going on vacation or maybe into the hospital and needs someone to watch their cat and get in their mail. In those cases, what stopped you from going up to them and saying don’t worry, “I’ve got this”?

Closer to home, do you stop and think about the things that your partner does for you every day? Have you ever felt like helping but didn’t know where to start? It doesn’t always have to be something big. Maybe you can carry a load of laundry upstairs. Maybe you can make the bed some mornings, rather than just walking out knowing that it will somehow get made before it’s time to get back in it tonight. Maybe you can volunteer tobath watch the kids so that they can get a nice peaceful bath or go shopping. It starts by finding something, anything, and saying, “I’ve got this.”

Amazing things happen in your life once you get over the “Aww, Geeze, do I have to” stage that prevents you from acting to help others that you know need your help. There is a sense of accomplishment and well-being that comes from selfless acts of serving others. You will not get that feeling from buying another golf club or another pair of shoes. You get that feeling of pride and satisfaction only by reaching beyond your own needs and meeting the needs of others. Some call it finding purpose in your life. Whatever you call it, it begins by seeing a need and saying, “I’ve got this.”

This only works if you follow through. It is sometimes easy to say, “Yeah, I’ll be there” when someone calls to ask for help; but if you don’t actually show up you get no satisfaction from having made that empty promise and you certainly didn’t make them happy by just saying that you’d help.. So, today’s three word phrase is really about a commitment that you make to yourself and to the other person. You are not saying, “I’ll try” or “Maybe” or “If I get a chance.” You are committing that, “I’ve got this.”

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.

Three little words that can change your life… I’ll be there. (11 of ?)

April 1, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Today’s little three word sentence is also the title of a famous hit song by the Jackson 5. You can watch a performance of that song by the Jackson 5 by clicking here. To view the lyrics to that song click here.

The Jackson 5 song combines a bit of unrequited love with a pledge of friendship and support. Let me focus first upon the latter – the friendship aspect.

Many of us had best friends in our youth to whom we have made a similar pledge – whatever happens, you can count on me to be there for you. We often drift away from those childhood
friends and that pledge is soon forgotten. Sometimes you hear of people who have remainedbest friends best friends throughout their lives, often it is in the context of a news story about some extraordinary thing that one has done for the other – donating an organ, for instance. Sometimes it is just a story about the longevity of the friendship, with many incidents usually related about being there for each other in times of need. They were there.

In marriages, one of the cornerstones is the commitment that both parties make to be there for each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, in the good times and the bad. This pledge to be there is especially important in the bad times and in the times of sickness. When bad things happen, like the death of a relative or maybe even a child, it is the strength of the partner who is there with us that sometimes is the main thing that gets us old coouplethrough it. When sickness hits, especially the really serious kinds like cancer or a stroke, it is the support of the partner/caregiver that we depend upon. It is certainly important to have the support of others and to have faith to give you strength, but nothing quite replaces having that one special person around who has promised to be there when you need them. They are there.

And, what of that person; the one who has said, “I’ll be there”? There is little in life that can provide such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as being there for your loved one in a time of need. The tasks that you perform may seem mundane, but the fact that you are supporting and helping your partner get through something that they cannot manage by themselves  give them special meaning. Changing a dressing or helping your partner get bathed or dressed doesn’t make the headlines, but it can make a big difference in their day.caring
Especially poignant are the stories of the life partner helping the mate who can’t even remember his/her name any more. They were there and they feel great about it.

It’s relatively easy when you are standing at the alter dressed to the nines on a very happy day to pledge that you’ll be there. The test is when you’re standing beside the hospital bed, still dressed in yesterday’s clothes holding on to an unresponsive hand and whispering “I’m here. I love you” to someone that you’re not sure can even hear you. Keep trying to get through to let them know that you are there and that you will be there no matter how long or what it takes. There is something in that little squeeze of recognition on your hand that will make it all worthwhile. You were there.

Three little words that can change your life… You complete me. (9 of ?)

March 29, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I was surprised when I Googled this little phrase to see so much already posted about this. I sort of remembered it from the Tom Cruise movie Jerry McGuire, but it was the history going back to the ancient Greeks and Plato that surprised me (click here to read that article post on the Relevant Magazine site). Greek mythology has an elaborate explanation of how the human race was split into male and female by the god Zeus out of the androgynous offspring of the moon. The entire two parts of a whole thing is a fascinating read and is said to have led to the phrase “my better half” in our modern lexicon.

While not mentioned in the Google response I was thinking when I read it that the Chinese Yin andyin yang Yang Taoist symbols apply there, too; although in the Taoist beliefs they represent opposing forces in constant battle and not two parts that make up a whole. Of course, we all know couples that seem to be in constant battles, too.

Another thing that surprised me a bit is how overuse and maybe sometimes inappropriate use of this little phrase, some of it based upon the movie, has served to marginalize it. The phrase has not totally taken on the guise of a caricature in the vernacular yet, but it isn’t far from that. It’s referred to somewhat derogatorily as “an old soul mate saying” in many of the Google responses. That’s a shame, because for many it still has great personal meaning.

There is great value in the phrase when it is meant to allude to the love and companionship that may have been missing in one’s life that are filled by a meaningful relationship. Perhaps instead of “you complete me” the more appropriate phrase would be, “you fill the void that was in my life.” Over time, in long-term relationships, more and more layers of meaning are added to that little phrase.

old cooupleCouples in long term, committed relationships that last, move through phases in life, in which some things that were primary to the relationship in the beginning fade into the background; and new things, or things that were there all along but just not front and center, take more prominent rolls. Where once two bodies intertwined; now, two souls have become enmeshed. The heat of ardor and lust is replaced by the warm comfort of love and companionship. The rapid heartbeat of passion is replaced by the reassuring heartbeat of companionship. The two persons almost seem as one. Together they are strong and capable and unafraid, but apart they may become disoriented, confused and anxious.

You may have known older couples like that and thought, “How cute is that?” Sometimes they

"Image courtesy of Simon Howden /".

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden /”.

shuffle along, supporting each other, maybe holding hands or with arms intertwined. It wasn’t cute; you were witnessing true love and commitment; and, each of them made the other complete. I suspect that is why you occasionally hear of both parties in one of those relationships dying within days of each other. It is often been said that they couldn’t stand to be apart – they had become incomplete.

So, rather than snicker when you hear those three little words or thinking of the Tom Cruise movie or toss the line off cavalierly ; think about that little old couple shuffling along in the mall together. They have found something together that you can only hope you find in your life. They understand and are living the commitment that they made to each other. They know that the other half of them will be there in times of need. They have made each other complete. You should be so lucky.

What’s left, after the new wears off?

January 8, 2014

“After a while, the newness wears off.”  (Kellie Lee) –  from my favorite daily blog, Jack’s Winning Words.

That statement is certainly true of most things in life. Sometimes we strive for things andyoung couple when we get them they are new and shiny and satisfying…for a while. Then the newness wears off and we lose interest. What wanes is the passion and commitment that was there initially. The same can sometimes happen in relationships and marriages. It takes commitment to keep those relationships from becoming stale.

An example that may make sense in this car-crazy area is to look at the car collector/enthusiast and the difference in how he treats the object of that particular passion. Collectible cars in the hands of these people never grow old or boring; the newness never wears off, because they work at it all the time. They spend hours cleaning and polishing and maintaining their treasured cars. Even cars that might have once been considered cast-offs or ugly can be beautiful in the eyes of the right car fanatic. The difference is in the commitment that they make to the car. They find many things beyond the newness of it to satisfy them and justify their commitment of time and effort.

The same is true of relationships and marriages. Many relationships and not a few marriages likely stared in the heat of passion and sexual attraction. For some that was literally all that there ever was to the relationship; and when that cools, there is nothing left upon which to base the relationship. For many couples the changes that occur in those passion-based relationships when the first child is born are enough to tear apart the bonds. It’s sad, but all too many times divorces follow on the heels of the births of children.  There is just not enough beyond the physical attraction to hold things together. Once a wife becomes a mother, too; many husbands cannot deal with no longer being the center of her universe. The newness has worn off and there may not be enough other than that to sustain the relationship.

Obviously, the car collector analogy breaks down over the concept of ownership vs. relationship. A relationship is not based upon one partner owning the other. The concept of ownership in relationships translates into possessiveness, which is usually a road to failure. Relationships are equal partnerships, with both parties expected to make commitments and put in work on the maintenance of the relationship.

That relationship commitment starts with an effort to recognize the needs of the other partner and a desire to work to meet those needs. There are tons of little things that are there every day to be recognized and done – opportunities to keep the newness in the relationship by surprising your partner with a little gesture, a loving kiss, doing a little chore without being asked or just knowing when to back off and give them the space that they may need.

fiftith annivarsaryOne thing that is fairly consistent in successful, long-term relationships is constant feedback of love and commitment between the partners. It is important to both sides to continue to hear “I love you” from the other side. Implicit in that statement is the commitment that “I’ll be here for you when you need me.” No one wants to be alone, especially in times of need.

So, what is left in a successful relationship or marriage, after the newness wears off? I would say love and commitment. After all, if one keeps polishing and maintaining the relationship it will never grow old.

(Editors disclosure – celebrating 48 years of marriage in 2014 and still discovering new things about her to love.)