Don’t miss your life…

June 6, 2015

“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  (From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

It’s Saturday; a time to rest from the week of work or maybe to just have some fun –or at least that’s the way it used to be. These days Saturdays, and for some Sunday’s too; have become days when we shift from the pressures and man with toolsrunning around of the week to the pressures and running around of the weekend. Many of us try to catch up with all of the things that we didn’t have time to get to during the week, because we were working so long and so hard. Maybe mowing the grass was put off during the week or making home repairs or grocery shopping or whatever. For whatever reason, for many the weekend has begun to feel almost like a second work week.

For another group – the ones with all of the toys – the weekend is a time to cram in as much use of those toys as possible; so, it is full of riding or boating or maybe playing sports. Whatever the activities, there is never a dull (or quiet) moment. Those with younger children may spend the entire weekend traveling to tournaments or competitions. These people rush around all weekend and end up exhausted on Monday morning.

So, many of us are living life in the fast lane seven days a week. We may be used to it and think nothing of it. That’s life, right? Not really. Someday many of these people will look back and see that the blur of activities that they thought was hamster wheeltheir life was nothing more than that – a blur. They’ll ask themselves, “What happened? How did I get so old and have so little to remember that is satisfying?” Of course, it’s easy to rationalize this all by trying to convince yourself that you just were doing what had to be done to get through life. That’s what you were doing – just getting through life. As Ferris Bueller might say, “Stop, look around, relax and enjoy your life and the people in it every now and then.”

I think the key to this is pausing to keep things in your life in perspective. What is more important to you, getting that report for work done over the weekend so that you might look like a hero at work or going to your child’s ball game so that you are a hero at home? Is taking your daughter to the father-daughter dance something that you’ll put off until father-daughter danceyou’re dancing with her at her wedding and wondering what happen to that little girl that you used to give horsy rides to on your leg? As you hug your son goodbye when he ships off to service in some foreign land something that you meant to do more often when he was growing up, but just never seemed to have the time for? Do you want to wake up one morning and realize that the beautiful bride that you’ve been working so hard to provide for is now gray haired and having trouble with stairs? Where did your life go while you weren’t looking? More importantly, why weren’t you looking and living in those moments that you’ve missed?

Take a hint from Ferris and take a day off every now and then to stop and look around and enjoy your life and those in it. Even better; start each day by mentally setting aside some time for the others in your lifer and for yourself. Don’t miss man relaxingyou own life. There will be no do-overs allowed. Life is not a contest to see how much you can cram into it; rather it is there to see how much you can get out of it. At the end of your life, no one will read in your obituary about what a great employee or business owner you were. The obits usually list that you were the loving spouse of, the loving parent of, the loved son/daughter brother/sister of… Make sure that this is a long list of people whom you loved and who loved you back and you will have been a success in life. Don’t miss your life.

Have a great and relaxing weekend doing things that you enjoy surrounded by those that you love. Work will wait  for you to get back, life won’t.

Grab life by the tail

March 26, 2015

“The person who grabs the cat by the tail and holds the cat upside down for twenty seconds gets a hundred times more information about that experience than one who may have read about it in a book.” –  (Mark Twain) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

If Mark Twain were alive today he might have said that on his Facebook page and then catthe SPCA would be all over him for espousing animal cruelty. What he was saying, of course, is that really experiencing life is much more interesting and educational than just reading about it. Twain might likely also hate Facebook, Twitter and most of the rest of what passes for living today. Twain would likely be shouting at those that he found with heads down and eyes focused upon their tiny screens – Grab life by the tail!

There are always distractions that tend to keep us from experiencing life. Sometimes there are also fears or concerns that cause us to avoid life, or at least those things in life that scare us. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and go for it. I enjoy the TV show The Voice, not only because it is good entertainment, but because it shows us little vignettes of people doing just that – overcoming their fears and getting up and performing before audiences that most have never been in front of before. That is usually one of the big things that the coaches must work on with the performers. In fact, most are not performers; they’re just people who sing very well. Most have some experience singing in small venues – churches or local bars – but few have any real stage experience before appearing on this show. On The Voice they get their chance to grab life by the tail.

So, what are you doing with your life? Are you taking every opportunity to share it with those that you love, or do you sacrifice that for what you think is necessary to get aheadfirst bicycle ride and earn more money? Are you there rooting for your kids at the games and plays and concerts, or apologizing later for having missed another important day in their lives? Are you taking the time for a hug and a kiss with your significant other each day or coming home late, after the lights are all out and wishing that someone had stayed up to see if you made it home? Are you letting your life partner know what you need and want from them or just going to bed angry that they can’t figure it out?  Maybe you are letting life slip away, instead you should  grab life by the tail.

Notice, if you will, that that the little phrase, “grab life by the tail” is a very active phrase. kid jumping in poolIt is not passive, It does not say “watch life go bye.” It does not advise you to, “allow life to happen.” Twain was not a passive fellow. He lived life with gusto and his advice to others is to do the same. The picture that comes to mind when one grabs a cat by the tail and lifts it in the air is not one of a passive cat, which just hangs there and accepts the situation.  Cat’s aren’t like that and one can imagine a very active (perhaps even frantic) scene, in which there are many experiences to be gained and stories to be told in later years. Life needs to be like that. You need to be making stories today that you’ll enjoy retelling for years. Grab life by the tail.

Does this mean that you should do stupid things like you might see on “reality” TV shows? No! It means not avoiding doing things or trying things because you are stopped by Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). Living a timid life that is constrained by FUD is life in a self-imposed prison. So, rather than allowing life to happen around you, get out and make life happen in front of you. Start today. Grab life by the tail!

Be a good traveler, enjoy the journey…

February 9, 2015

“It’s good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”  (Ursala Le Guin), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

At the micro-level of a week, we often start out each week with some goals, some end that we will be journeying towards that week, or at least with a calendar of known and planned events that we intend to participate in that week.  At the end of the week, we might be able to look back with some satisfaction at having accomplished those goals or we might look back and be thankful that we survived the twists and turns that life moral compassthrew at us during that short time period. In either event what we are then looking back upon is the journey that took place during the week.

We might look back on things and, with the luxury of time to more clearly see the decision points on the journey, engage in “Monday morning quarterbacking.” We should have run the ball and not attempted the pass that was intercepted has been a favorite lament lately. That is engaging in the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” syndrome, which is largely a waste of time.

Rather, it is better to look back, if you must, and try to learn from what just transpired. What choices did you have and why did you make the ones that you ended up making? Did those choices end up playing out the way that you envisioned? Would you have made a different choice had you the time to think about it more or maybe thinking hardhave had more information upon which to base a decision? Reflecting on things is one of the more basic ways of learning and increasing your ability to deal with things in the future. It also increases your ability to lay out more clear and realistic goals for the rest of the journey ahead.

Another important point to be more aware of is that all of our journeys have the same endpoint. They all start the same way and end the same way. Some take longer than others to reach the end point, but none  (with one exception) have ever found a way beyond that endpoint.  Having said that, perhaps the goal businessman looking at watchshould be to enjoy the journey as much as possible. Enjoying the journey requires that we take the time to “stop and smell the roses” – to enjoy the people that we meet and the places that we go and the experiences that we have as we go.

Enjoying the journey means waking up each morning and being thankful for the opportunity for another day’s travel. Enjoying the journey means taking the time to stop and really listen to those that we meet, getting to know them, and sharing some stories of each other’s journeys.  Enjoying the journey means looking up from your labors to see the things around you and to appreciate the wonders that are there. Enjoying the journey means reflecting upon the experiences that we have each day, rather than rushing onto the next experience.

So, if you were thankful for the chance for another day’s journey at the start of the day; perhaps you should pause at the end of the day to savior the memories of that day. If man relaxingyou started the day thanking God for giving you another chance to travel on; perhaps you should double back and thank Him for making it memorable. You might also reflect on what you did during the day to make that day better and more memorable for those that you met along the way. Remember that, no matter what you do, the end will be the same. The differences will be found in what you do along the journey.

Did you stop and hold a door open for the next person, or just rush through the door to see what was on the other side? Did you reach into your pocket for some change to give helping handto the poor man sitting on the sidewalk or just shove your hands in your pockets and hurry by him to get to your next appointment? Did you use some of your time to help build or repair a house for another in need or were you too intent on buying more stuff for your own house? At the end of the day, is this how you would want to end your journey?

It’s Monday and you have a whole week’s worth of life’s journey ahead of you. Set some goals for yourself that don’t involve just getting ahead and making more money. Set some goals that have to do with enjoying the journey more and making a positive difference in the lives of those that you meet along the way. Then when Saturday comes along you’ll be able to look back and fondly remember the people, the places and the events of this week’s journey. Have a great week ahead!

Three little words – Not So Fast!

November 19, 2014

I posted a series based upon what I described as three little words that can change your life. I did a whole bunch of posts using three word phrases that can have great meaning in one’s life. Pastor Jack Freed, the retired pastor of my church and the author of the Jack’s Winning Words blog, often supplies the inspiration for my posts in his blog. He also sent me a whole bunch of three word phrases to think about, many of them very challenging. Today’s post – Not So Fast – is one of his suggestions.

The phrase “not so fast” is used quite often is a disciplinary way, as a warning to slow down. It may man rushingbe that the advice being given is not to jump to conclusions about things or people. It may be advising that a task or pursuit be slowed down, so as not to make a mistake. For teens it’s often an admonishment not to get to serious too quickly, usually with a sexual connotation. For children it’s often quite literally an attempt to get them to slow down, before they hurt themselves. Not so fast!

For all of us the phrase, “not so fast.” Might just be good advice on living our lives. We all tend to get caught up in the rapid pace of modern life and sometimes need to be slowed down a bit. “What’s the hurry?” is a phrase that my wife uses with me a lot. She’s right; of course, there really isn’t any need to hurry most of the time. It’s just that I’ve gotten so used to getting on to the next thing that I sometimes don’t take the time to enjoy the thing that I’m doing at the moment. Not so fast!

Sometimes she’ll say, “What else have we got to do today?” Usually there isn’t anything else that is women looking at watchall that pressing, it’s just me trying to get to whatever the unknown next thing is for the day. So, maybe it’s time for me, and perhaps some of you, too, to say “not so fast.” Maybe it’s time to slow down and enjoy what we are doing now and enjoy the people that we are doing it with; rather than always looking ahead to the next thing and hurrying to get there. Not so Fast!

There are things that we can do that almost force us to slow down. Going to a baseball game is one. Baseball just isn’t a hurry up type game. There’s no shot-clock in baseball or any hurry-up, two-minute offense. There are efforts to speed up the game a bit, so as to shorten the length of games; but who really wants to cut short a day in the stand when the sun is shining, the weather is nice and there are hot dogs to be consumed. Not so fast!

multitaskerElsewhere in life there are endless examples of things that we enjoy more when we take the time to give them our full attention and time. Even in our work lives the rush to get something done in a hurry often leads to more mistakes than good. We fool ourselves into believing that we can “multi-task”, when all we are really doing is screwing up multiple things at one time. In our personal relationships, one of the biggest reasons, I believe, that so many marriages end in divorce is that there was a rush to the altar before the relationship had been given time to mature beyond the physical ardor and into true affection, understanding and love. Not so fast!

In our daily lives we hear terms like “getting a rush on” or “being on the fast track” or “getting up to speed” and “full speed ahead” to describe success, or the path to success. We have speed dating,chasing brass ring because we need to make quick decisions and get on to the next candidate. We have Fast Food places with drive-through windows so that we can eat in our cars or carry the meal home. Many of us are now connected 24 X 7 through our ever present devices and constantly temped to take a quick peek to see if we are missing anything. We spend more time seeing that we are not missing anything else than actually doing what we might be currently engage in. Not so fast!

I have slowed my pace a bit (though not enough for my wife, yet) as I get older and I try a bit harder to focus upon the moment and not worry about the future or what else I might be missing. I still check my phone way too often to see if there are new messages; although, I do note that most man relaxingnew messages are n no importance and just get deleted right away. I wasn’t missing anything anyway. I’m trying to take my wife’s advice and slow down to enjoy the moment. In other words, I’m trying to live my life – Not so fast!

What about you? Are you still on life’s treadmill with it set for an uphill run? Are you looking past the moment to see if there’s anything else to do? Are you enjoying the people you are with now or constantly looking for someone else. Here are three little words that can change your life – Not so fast!

Eleven Hints for Life – 10 of 11

March 19, 2014

10. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. – Unknown

Some of these hints are easier than others to find a positive message to take away. This one is easy to agree with but perhaps a little harder to put into practice. The world around us is so focused upon trying to define happiness in terms of the possessions that we have – how many and how good they are – that it is easy to get swept up in those thoughts.

The key in this little hint is to be found in the words “…they just make the most of everything…” Whether it is the things that they have or the things that come their way, the happiest of people not only accept what they have or get, but they find joy in having those things and do not waste time  being jealous or envious of things that they don’t have.

“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” – Jack Londoncards

In the song The Gambler there is the line “every hands a winner and every hands a loser, it how you play the game.” Happy people take the cards that they are dealt and find joy in just being in the game. They don’t waste time and energy coveting what someone else has; instead they enjoy want they have to the fullest. Most of the time, you find these people to be the types that value family and relationships above all else, except their faith. They are happy because they don’t let the pursuit of possessions get in the way of what is really important.

And what of those who are not living according to todays’ hint? A saying from the blog Jack’s Winning Words sums it up fairly well –

“You’d be surprised at how many unhappy people there are.  They focus too much on their wants, not their needs.”  (Cayman Islander)

Somehow I have to believe that this Cayman Islander and many of the people who live the Caribbean island lifestyle actually do live by the words of today’s hint.

chasing brass ringSo, rather than spending time worrying and being unhappy about what you don’t have; spend time making the most out of what you do have and out of the relationships that you have with the people that you love who are sharing it with you. Happiness is not to be found in possessions, but rather in sharing love with other people and enjoying each other.

After all, could that new car that you’ve been focusing so much attention upon getting ever give you a hug and say, “I still love you”, at the end of a bad day?  Can that big flat screen TV that you covet so much ever hold your hand and tell you that everything will be alright when you’ve just been laid off? And try having a meaningful conversation with that new pair of shoes that you want so much or sitting on the porch swing with that new appliance that you’ve been wanting for so long. Now, re-imagine those same scenarios with the ones in your life that you love and you will start to understand that the real joy in life comes not from having things but from sharing your life with other people.porch swing

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” – Charles Spurgeon

Go back and re-read Hint # 3 and then find that someone in your life to sit on the porch swing with.