Just get up and dance…

December 15, 2021

I got this quote in an email of inspirational quotes that I get each day –

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.”  – Martha Graham

People often use dance as a placeholder for life, especially in quotes. The advice in this quote holds quite well for life. Too many people get hung up on perfection or get too concerned about what other will think of their efforts, to even try things in life. They allow themselves to be paralyzed by fear of failure or ridicule from others, so they don’t even try. Just get up and dance.

Martha Graham believed that you should just let go of your inhibition and experience the joy of moving to the music. In life we must learn to let go of the fear of failure and experience the joy of doing and trying. There is often more pleasure to be found in striving towards a goal than in finally achieving it. World-class athletes often report after having set a record or achieved a significant win in competition that it is often a letdown compared to the pleasure that they found in the focused and intense training leading up to that moment. Just get up and dance.

So, rather than sit and watch life go bye out of your own doubts or fears, get in the game. Let go of your inhibitions and fears. Stick out your hand and meet new people. Try new things, find new adventures, savor new tastes. Don’t be worried about what others may think of you or your efforts. Just get up and dance.

Maybe this advice from the 1987 song “Come from the Heart” by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh sums it up well –

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money

Love like you’ll never get hurt

You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’

It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

The important message in all of this is that nothing happens until you – Just get up and dance.

Don’t overthink it…just do it.

August 30, 2021

How many times at the end of a day have you ended up with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” over things that you didn’t do during the day? It happens to us all. There are things that we hesitate doing out of some fear of the unknown. Perhaps we avoid meeting or greeting someone because they look different from us. Or maybe we don’t go someplace because of some totally unfounded fear. Maybe we do not even attempt to do something new because we fear that we will fail.

A couple of quotes that I’ve had laying around for a while seem appropriate –

“A small act is worth a million thoughts.” (Ai Weiwei)

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” – Brené Brown

In the weekly prayer for forgiveness that we use at my church we ask God for forgiveness for “the things that we have done and for those things left undone.” It is in those things left undone that most us need to seek forgiveness, especially those things eft undone when it come to helping others. We spend too much time thinking, or worrying, about reasons not to do something and the moment quickly passes. Maybe we spend too much time thinking about how we might do something and again the moment passes. That is where the words of Al Weiwei really apply. We can have a million thoughts of doing wonderful things, but if we do not act they are worthless. One of my Mom’s favorite sayings was,” the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” You can easily substitute “thoughts” for the word intentions.

Brown’s words, too, speak to overcoming our initial fears and actually trying (showing up) new things. Each time we get through that barrier of fears we become a bit braver for the next time. Even if we show up and one of our fears proves to be true, the fact that we survived it or overcame it makes us a little braver for the next time. Hopefully we learn from the experience.

So, you have to act; you have to show up. Ending the day with the thoughts that, “I wish it had gone differently, but here’s what I learned”, is so much more satisfying than ending it with a case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” because you didn’t even try.

Don’t overthink life…just live it.

Check your baggage…

July 12, 2021

For this Sunday’s sermon our Pastor used the Scripture reading from Mark 6:7-13 on which to base his remarks. That passage concerns the instructions that Jesus gave his Disciples when he sent them out to preach to the world. Basically, Jesus told the Disciples to take nothing with them, to leave everything behind, to take no baggage with them and to depend upon the kindness of strangers for their food and shelter.

Pastor Matlack opined that we all have baggage, not just physical baggage in the form of stuff, but mental baggage in the form of fears, regrets and prejudices. He suggested that we need to leave our baggage behind in order to be able to go out in the world and share the good news of Jesus. We need to check our baggage so that we are left with nothing weighing us down. Check your baggage.

Some of our baggage, especially prejudices, may be hard to let go of, almost like a favorite possession. Many may have been with us a very long time and we find comfort in just letting them dictate our actions and reactions, rather than having to stop and really think about things. They have become our “everybody knows” safe havens for our quick decisions and bad behavior. Check your baggage.

Pastor Matlack used the analogy of going through the TSA checkpoint at the airport. We are no longer allowed to get on the plane with anything dangerous on our person or in our carryon baggage– guns, knives (box cutters) explosives, or liquids.  When you think about it, airplanes before the TSA were a dangerous place to be since fellow passengers might have been carrying any or all of those items. Now, with modern TSA body scanners and luggage scanners it is impossible to hide those items and get on the plane with them., Check your baggage.

There is no TSA checkpoint or scanner for the mental baggage that you might be carrying around, especially the unfounded fears and prejudices about other people. Instead, we must use the scanning power of prayer to search deep within ourselves to expose those fears and preconceived notions. Once you have brought them out into the light of reason, you must make the decision on what to do with them. Pastor Matlack suggested that we check those fears and prejudices with God; that we not continue to carry them around. Check your baggage.

Checking your baggage with God is as Easy as curb-side baggage check at the airport. One only has to admit that they have that baggage and then hand them over to God. We are told in several places in the Bible that if we confess our sins (and prejudice is certainly a sin) we will be forgiven and the burden (the baggage) of those sins will be taken away from us. Take nothing with you when you leave home for the day today – no unfounded fears, no uncertainty about people and no doubts or regrets about your actions. Check in with God before your travels today and check your baggage.

Have a great week ahead unencumbered by all your baggage.

Check your baggage with God.

Live up to your potential…

June 17, 2021

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself to become what he potentially is.”  (Erich Fromm)

Ironically, in today’s paper the cartoon Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis the cartoon character Pig is shone having a discussion with the character Goat. In the cartoon, Pig tells Goat, “I’ve decided to no longer let fear rule my life”; to which Goat replies, ”Good for you”. Then Pig says, “Instead I’ll choose regret.” In the last frame Goat just says, “Never Mind”, to which Pig relies, “Still bad, but so much less scary.”

It is unfortunate that so many, when faced with the challenges of living up to their potential choose to let fear rule their lives or make the choice that Pig did and live a life of regrets.

Most children are asked the ageless question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  For the very young the answer often entails doing what their heroes do – maybe being a fireman or policemen or perhaps whatever it is that their dads or moms do. At those young ages they do not understand enough about life to let fear rule their lives.

As they get older the child is exposed to the realities of life, the educational or abilities requirements to become what they had dreamed about. For many, the hard work that they come to understand is required is the scary thing that puts them off-track.

There are no free passes to success in any chosen endeavor in life. One must work at it and work hard in many instances. Successful athletes are not just born to success – they work at it harder than others. Look at successful people in any field and you will find someone who was willing to overcome their fears and work hard at being successful.  The most basic fear that they had to overcome was the fear of failure. Instead, they used failures as learning experiences and made the necessary changes to succeed the next time.

Living up to the potential of our lives is a full-time job and one with more than a few things that we could fear. Those who give up on that potential have chosen regret as a comfort zone. Get out of that comfort zone by recognizing it as the lie that it is. No matter what stage of life one is in there is still the potential to be your best and that potential should always serve as the guiding star for the direction in which you are headed.

While the profession or job that you have chosen provides a backdrop for being your best, the challenge is always to realize your potential as a human being – to be the best you that you can be. If you can look back on the things that you do at work or the decision that you made and are satisfied that you did th4e best that you could or made the best decisions that you could have, then you achieved your potential in that aspect of your life.

More importantly, look at your life in terms of your interactions with others. Are you the best husband/wife, father/mother, son or daughter or friend that you can be? Are there things that you can do differently in the future in those aspects of life to reach your potential? You need not let fear of failure dictate your interactions with others and you surely don’t want regrets to rule the day. Rather, work hard to overcome your fears of interpersonal relationships. Feed off the adrenalin that fear may release in you and use it to spur you on to success. Fear will turn to exhilaration, once it is overcome.

Pastor Freed wrote in his blog about being thankful for various people in his life who mentored him and helped him see and reach his potential. You may also have those types of people in your life or you may have to rely on yourself for the motivation to reach you potential. Remember that you also have God close at hand and you have but to call on him to receive that boost of confidence that you may need. If you believe that the path that you see as your potential is God’s will for you, how can you not succeed? Now, that is a formula for success.

Reaching your potential in life does not mean making the most money or having the most things. Reaching your potential in life means having people that you love and receiving their love back. It means having no regrets that you didn’t do the best that you could. It means ending up where God wanted you to be. Live up to your potential.

To get the reward, you must take the risk…

May 28, 2021

Pastor Freed used this Mario Andretti quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“If everything seems under control, you’re not driving fast enough.”

Mario was a winning driver in Formula 1 and IndyCar racing because he always drove fast enough and managed to stay in control at the same time. Mario’s advice is really about overcoming fears and taking risks to get ahead in racing and in life. When your life is too much “under control” it is usually because you have let fears stop you from exploring what is right beyond your comfort zone.

Here are some great quotes by an impressive array of people about getting beyond our fears –

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” (1841) —Popularized by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Not to do what you are afraid to do is to guide your life by fear. How much better not to be afraid to do what you believe in doing!” (circa 1881) —Jane Addams

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” (1960) —Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” (1997) —Mary Schmich

You might ask why you should follow this advice. To extend the Andretti thought just a little, if you are allowing your fears (and prejudices) to control and constrict your life, you are not living life to the fullest. It’s as if you never moved from black and white TV to color TV (I know many of my readers don’t even know what black and white TV was). It is as if you went to the Baskins Robbins ice cream store and ordered plain Vanilla every time. Life has more to offer than your fears allow you to experience.

Life offers many rewards in terms of new friendships, new experiences and new knowledge to those who are unafraid to reach out for those things – to take the risk of meeting someone new or trying something new, something that you may be afraid of trying. Sometimes those fears hide under the cloud of prejudice, but the real base of all prejudices is unfounded fear.

I like Mary Schmich’s quote because it is a simple pro-active challenge to think about something that you are not doing because you are afraid. There are many things that really are too dangerous to try and, in those cases, your fears are serving you well. At the same time, there are many instances in life where holding back because of some unfounded fear really is a missed opportunity to make a new friend or have a great new experience, one that you may even learn from.

If you do not take the opportunity to talk to a person who looks different from you, you have missed an opportunity. If you do not go to that sporting event or that show, because its venue is in a neighborhood that you fear going into, you have missed an opportunity.  If you turned away from the person who was dressed differently or spoke differently or perhaps had piercings or tattoos because of fear or prejudice, you may have missed the opportunity to meet the most interesting person in the room.

So, let go of your fears and allow yourself to get right to the edge of control in life. Take the risk of not being afraid and you will be richly rewarded with a life that is much more interesting and fulfilling.

Do something that scares you today.

Enter with confidence…enter with God.

February 8, 2021

Just out of curiosity, I looked all the way back to the first post that I made to this blog, back in2012. Not surprisingly the quote that I used as inspiration for that first post was from the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” (Joseph Campbell)

In that first post I wrote about letting the fear of failure prevent one from even trying to do things that are important for success in business, like prospecting or cold calling.

The same is true of many of life’s decision points. It could be the fear of rejection and humiliation that prevents you from asking out the person of your dreams. Maybe it’s a fear of not feeling prepared or worthy that prevents you from volunteering to take on a leadership position within an organization. For most it is the fear of a possible failure that prevents them from even trying.

Yet we can read story after story of people that we hold up as examples of success having gone through failure after failure on their way to that success. What is the difference? They decided to enter that cave of fear of failure and hunt for the treasure therein.

Yesterday I posted here about being fearless by accepting God into your life. That post focused upon overcoming other fears in your life once you had conquered the fear of death by accepting the love of God and the promise of eternal life – see post.

That advice applies here as well. Many people lose that fearlessness of their faith when faced with day-to-day issues, especially those that deal with their jobs or with other people. Those caves all share the common fear of the unknown. What might happen if I fail at work and lose my job? What if that other person reacts badly to the massage I am about to deliver? What if I am rejected by that other person? What if? What if? What if? But those same cave also hold the treasures of a new friendship or the reward for a job well done or even a promotion. You’ll never know if you are too afraid to enter.

The wonderful inventiveness of our imaginations take us through all sorts of horrible scenarios. It is easy to lose sight of the presence of God in your life as those possibilities play out in your mind. Yet it is imperative that you keep touching that base for the assurance that you need to face the unknown. Keep reminding your self of Romans 8:31 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So, face your fears and enter the caves that hold the treasures that you seek. You’ve got God with you. Perhaps that will bring to mind the saying that Mr. “T” used in the old TV show The “A” Team – “I pity the fool”, who goes up against you, with God at your side. Now doesn’t that make you feel better about entering the caves of your fears?

Put God in your heart and a smile on your face and get in those caves…there are treasures awaiting you.

Don’t allow yourself to be held down or back…

December 8, 2018

From a recent TV ad – “Live life anchors up” (Pacifico beer commercial slogan)

While that is a cute beer commercial slogan; it is really great advice for life. Too many people allow themselves to be held back or held down by “anchors” in their lives – guilt,baggage fears, self-doubt or perhaps the opinions of others. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t listen to common sense when it is trying to prevent you from doing something really stupid or self-destructive. That’s not self-doubt; that’s self preservation. Live Life anchors up.

Sometimes what we mistake for the restraint of common sense is really just a boundary or border into something unknown that should be explored or tried. Just because “nobody’s ever done that before” doesn’t mean that it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. Nobody ever flew before the Wright Brothers decided to pull up the anchor of gravity and break through that boundary. There are tons of examples like that. Live life anchors up.

angry accuserSome go through their life held back by the opinions of others. They may here “You’ll never amount to anything” from their own family. They may be teased or bullied at school, perhaps because of how they look or act. Some overcome that or escape those anchors to go on to become famous actors/actresses, scientists or to excel in their field. There are also lots of stories about that in the stories about the lives of famous people. Live life anchors up.

In our more ordinary, day-to-day lives the anchors or boundaries that we might hit that hold us back are many time self-imposed. We don’t ask that person out because we fear rejection. We don’t ask for that raise because we have doubts about our worth to the company or the quality of our work. We become stuck in place; anchored by our fears and self-doubt. Live life anchors up.

So, how do you hoist those anchors and live the life that you’d rather have? I’ve writtenwalking man here before that you must first love yourself before you can love others or help others or become happy with your life. When faced with barriers we must replace fear and self-doubt with hope and hard work. We must turn guilt into resolve to do better next time. We must become focused upon forming our own opinions and learning from our mistakes, rather than wallowing in self-pity. Live life anchors up.

The best way that I know to let go of the anchors that may be holding you back is to get woman-prayingright with God and go with the flow that He has in mind for you. God is not an anchor holding you back; He is the wind taking you forward. Tell God, “I’m ready to pull up my anchors and go where you want me to go. I put my trust in you. Not my will, but thy will be done.” Then hold on for the journey through life  that you’ve been dreaming about. Live life anchors up.

Conquering fear with faith…

July 19, 2017

Fear of the unknown is at the root of most of the fears that seek to control us. We don’t do things that we may wish to do because we are fearful of some unknown (and unknowable) outcome. We don’t reach out to others because we fear an unknown outcome, perhaps rejection or worse. We don’t stretch ourselves and go for that new jobtimid or try that new sport because we don’t know enough about them and fear the consequences of those unknowns.

Perhaps no unknown is more feared than death. We think about it, but we can’t imagine what it will be like and what, if anything, comes after death. That is where faith comes in. Faith in God and His son Jesus is the only real option that you have when facing death. Jesus promised us life after death when he said “Where I go there you will be also” and many other comforting passages from the Bible. Having faith can help you conquer many fears while you are here on earth; however, the biggest fear that faith can help you conquer is the fear of death.

Our human imaginations help us find solutions to many of the problems that we VR2encounter in life; however, our imaginations at too often limited by our understanding of the physical world around us and the knowledge that we might have accumulated in life. We tend to frame things, including our ability to imagine life after death in very restrictive human terms. Some religions have very elaborate descriptions of life after death that imagine things almost completely in normal human terms. Other religions define the afterlife in terms that not even they understand. Even Christian religion uses descriptions of the afterlife in heaven that the common man might relate to – a “house with many rooms”; however, it is also alluded to a “peace that passes all understanding”.

As humans we tend to define what we hope heaven is like in terms that we can relate to. We hope to see loved ones there. We hope that our past pets might be there also. We depict people in white robes with wings and halos. We see it as a bright light at the endhelping hands of a tunnel. We do all that we can to imagine it as something warm and bright and comfortable, because we are trying to overcome our fear of the unknown. If any and all of that makes you feel better about it, imagine away; however, know that it is your faith that there is a life after death, that you will be with Jesus in His Father’s House and that your earthly fears and concerns and pains will all drop away.

What will it be like? No one can know until they get there, but we can be sure in our faith that it will be wonderful. Let your anticipation of what is to come next become stronger than your fear of the transition to that next life. That is called faith and faith conquers fear every time.

Be the person that you would like to be…

March 13, 2017

I attended a very good real estate training session last week, put on my Steve Woodruff of The Woodruff Group. Steve is a well-known in the real estate world as a great motivational speaker and trainer. I came away with enough sayings from that session to last me a long time here, especially when I combine them with things that I get from Jack Freed in his blog Jack’s Winning Words.

One of the first good quotes from Steve was this one – “How would the person that I would like to be do what I’m about to do?” Some might try to substitute the little phrase WWJD“What would Jesus do?”, but I submit that doing so abstracts the process too much. These are our decisions to make and it is up to us to make them. Perhaps a better way to phrase that last saying might be to ask yourself, “What would a person who follows the teachings of Jesus do?” That at least brings us full-circle back to thinking about the person that we’d like to be – a person who follows the teachings of Jesus.

Bringing up thinking leads us to a little quote from Jack’s blog –

“Many problems in life are caused because we act without thinking or because we think without acting.”  (Unknown)

How often do we see an injustice or someone in need and just pass the situation by, thinking that we don’t have time for that right now?  That leads to the second quote from Jack’s blog –

“How soon, not now, becomes never!” – Martin Luther

Perhaps the situation is one that requires that you break away a bit from the norm and gopredjuices against the stream of what appears to be commonly accepted practice. That requires courage and a strong belief that what you are about to do is the right thing, the thing that the person that you wish to be would do. Steve had a great quote for that –

“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.” – Rollo May

It takes courage to stand up for the person being bullied. It takes courage to befriend the person in your class who is “different”. It takes courage to stop hiding in the closet and come out and live the life that you were born to live. It takes courage to admit that you need help and seek it. It takes courage to stand on the opposite side of the police line and courageprotest the treatment of people of color or ethnicity. It takes courage to stand up and say that I will not be treated like an object anymore or take any more of your abuse. It takes courage to decide that you are not going to continue to “go along to get along” anymore. Be the person that you would like to be and act now, before “not now” becomes never in your life.

Many people like to play the role of the victim. They are constantly complaining about what others have done to them or done that holds them back. Steve had a great quote for that, too.

Do not complain about what you permit – Anon

I found a great follow-on to that quote – No one can “walk all over you” unless you lay down and let them. – Maria Moore

The point to both quotes is that you control what happens to you – the situations that you life-choicesget yourself into and the reactions that you have to them. Ask yourself how the person that you would like to be would act and react in those situations. Would that person show courage or cowardice? Would that person act without thinking or think about it without acting and perhaps let not now become never?

A great way to start off this week is to take a moment before you dive into your normal workday life and think about another short series of quotes from Steve Woodruff –

Success is a choice not a circumstance – make the choice and act upon it

Take Responsibility – It’s your life and no one else can live it for you and make the decisions for you unless you lay down and let then walk over you

Attack your Fears – Fears, uncertainty and doubts are just temporary roadblocks that life throws up in front of us. Do not let them stop you. Attacked them, overcome them and move on.

Invent your Future – Become that person that you would like to be and you will have the life that you’ve dreamed of living.

Have a great week ahead.


Now more than ever…

November 22, 2016

“Cast all your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”  (1 Peter 5:17) – from a post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago.

Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

The recent election has caused a great deal of anxiety among people who voted for Hillary winner-loserClinton and against Donald Trump. That anxiety is driven by fears that President-Elect Trump will actually carry out some of the more outrageous promises that he made while campaigning, concerning things like building a wall at our southern border and deporting illegal aliens or taking harsh and discriminatory measures against various ethnic or religious groups. There would have been a similar anxiety had Hillary won from those who saw her as a threat to their right to own weapons or who fear more and bigger government interference in their daily lives. Those on both sides should step back and remember Peter’s advice – “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

There is a great deal of irrationality in both of those views. While a modern President can impact our lives in many ways, our governmental system does not allow for him/her to run roughshod over the will of the people or even that of the minority. Having rebelled against an onerous king, the founding fathers of America put enough checks and balances into the reality2system to insure that tyranny by a ruling leader would not be possible. Also at work here is the shift that President Obama has spoken about that occurs once one actually has to be the President, rather than just campaigning to be the President. We can see that already in Mr. Trump’s rapid backpedaling away from some of his more outrageous stated positions from his campaign. Some have called that being pragmatic, but perhaps the Lord is already at work and you can, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

If one lives long enough, one gets to see (and live through) the various swings of the political pendulum back and forth between the two major parties and their underlying philosophies on government. The earliest that I recall being actually aware of who was President and what they meant was during President Eisenhower’s terms in office; although I do vaguely recall early TV news reports of Margaret Truman playing a piano eisenhowerconcert for her family while in the White House. I do remember how the press seemed to cover every golf outing that President Eisenhower took and how he was called the “do nothing” president; even though he was the father of our modern Interstate system of highways and a bulwark against the spread of Communism after WW II. Eisenhower also created NASA in response to the launch of the Sputnik satellite by the USSR. He fought behind the scenes against Joe McCarthy and effectively ended McCarthyism. There were many who feared what would happen when Eisenhower was elected; but, also many who had faith enough to, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

I could go on to give examples of the anxieties caused by the elections of each of the Presidents since Eisenhower; but, here we are today, still anxious yet still hopeful. Things will change for a while as the pendulum prepares to swing back towards the other side. Perhaps it is at its furthest rightward point away from the center, but I suspect that this last election was actually a turning point and the momentum has already shifted back reality-checktowards the middle for the next few elections. Those most likely to be disappointed are not those who voted for the losing candidate, but those who voted for the winner, in hopes that all of their anger, hate and prejudices would be assuaged. For those who standing quivering in fear and anxiety at this turn of events, I can only offer the comfort of faith and ask them to, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

Now is not the time to abandon your faith; now is the time to find strength and comfort in it. Many may feel the same way they recalling feeling when they faced a bully at school or bully.pngat work. There is a lot of bluster and bravado from the winning side and some disappointment, whimpering and shame on the losing side. Both have already subsided as both now try to envision a future with this status quo. One side is focusing upon what they can actually do for the next four years and the other is deciding what they can actually prevent from happening in that same time period. The gridlock that is our Congressional arm of government has shifted from “prevent Obama from doing anything” to “prevent Trump from doing anything.” The Lord does work in mysterious ways, indeed. “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

In churches across the land the prayers remain the same – “Lord give our leaders the wisdom to lead us wisely and to do the right things” (or words to that effect). We haveman praying no power over what those leaders see as “the right things”, but God does. Now, more than ever, we need to trust in God to put into the hearts and minds of those in power the wisdom and compassion to do the right things. So pray often and pray hard for God to intervene to make the right things happen; and, pray with the conviction that you can, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

Have a great and anxiety-free week ahead.