New Year, New You…You decide

January 2, 2023

As you kick off a new year, pause to consider the words of author L. M. Montgomery -“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” If you substitute 2023 for the word tomorrow in the quote and year for the word day, you have a clean slate to star the new year with. Also consider the words of actress Mary Pickford – “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.” 

So, get up and start making your new future. Perhaps start by heeding these words – “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier.”  (Sri Chinmoy)

Forgive whatever happened in the past and forgive those who may have been involved. Especially forgive yourself, then move on. Once you have forgiven the sins of the past, resolve not to commit the sin of judgement in the future. Let the words of Pope Francis ring in your mind – “Who am I to judge.”

Finally, enter the new year at peace by following the advice of (Jack Kornfield) – “Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.”

One of man’s greatest sources of frustration and anger is believing that he can control things, rather than choosing to make the best of what happens. I have posted here many times about using the little prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done”, as a means of surrendering the illusion of control.

Once you have relinquished that illusion you may refocus on what is next as motivational speaker Dan Millman advises – “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” 

So, here you go. It’s the first workday of the new year. What are you going to do with it? Take a moment to consider the advice of Dolly Partin – “If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”

Chevrolet uses the catch-praise “Find New Roads”, maybe you can paraphrase Dolly’s advice and “Build New Roads” for 2023 and beyond.

It’s a new year. Will there be a new you? You decide.

You be you and be happy about it…

December 19, 2022

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”  (Steve Jobs) 

We all have some tendency to try to be like someone else whom we might admire, to live their life. In the end, we cannot be them and must live our own lives. Perhaps another quote from Jack’s blog sums that up very well – “Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been.” (David Bowie)

You may arrive at that point and realize that you don’t very much like the person that you have become, but there is no reason that you still cannot become the person that you wish to be. Perhaps Steve Jobs should have also said that you shouldn’t waste your time thinking about what might have been, the “couldas, woulda, shoulda’s” of life. You must find a way to accept life as it is, and to be happy about it. If for no other reason, you should be happy that you still have time to make changes in your life to become that person that you desire to become. For that to occur, another quote from Jack’s blog seems appropriate –

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” ― Lewis B. Smedes, author and theologian

We become prisoners of the sins of the past, those of others against us and those that we commit, if we cannot forgive others or ourselves. Being unable to forgive others is to allow them to control your life, to set your agenda. It is amazing how liberating it feels when you forgive them and free yourself from the hatred and plans for revenge that you had been carrying around. Try it. You’ll like it.

I have also posted here a few times about forgiving yourself as a major step to moving forward in life. You truly set yourself free to be that person that you want to be when you also forgive yourself. Time spent revisiting the disappointments of the past is wasted time and is associated with words like remorse, regrets, and failure. Time spent thinking about a better future might be called dreaming, but can also be associated with goals, planning, and anticipating – all much more positive than wasting time on the past.

So, don’t waste your time trying to be someone else or reliving the past. Forgive others and, most importantly, forgive yourself and start the journey to becoming the person that you always wanted to be.

You be you and be happy about it.

Worry about liking yourself first…

April 21, 2022

I’ve had this quote lying around in my quotes collection for quite some time. I felt that it is true, but I couldn’t seem to find the right words to describe why I felt that way.

“Remember: The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.”  (Douglas Coupland, novelist)

Then it dawned upon me that I have written about why this true several times. It involves liking yourself and being comfortable with who you are. Feeling lonely is mostly about not having someone else there to affirm and validate who you are and that is based upon doubts that you may have about yourself. Sometimes those doubts are based upon the inability to forgive yourself for a mistake in judgement or actions. I’ve posted here a few times about forgiving yourself. Most of the time forgiving yourself involves accepting that God forgives you first. You really don’t need the reassurance of others to validate yourself. You can self-validate and indeed you must; but first, you must be able to accept God’s forgiveness and then forgive yourself.

Once you accept and become comfortable with who you are you will notice that is literally impossible to become lonely, since there are several billion other people walking the earth with you. Your interactions with those that you encounter will no longer involve using them to validate yourself; but, rather, sharing life experiences with them and, by sharing, enriching your life and theirs. You don’t need them to make you feel better about yourself, but by sharing time and experiences with them you both will feel better about life and yourselves.

There is a famous business book by Antony Thomas Harris titled “I’m OK – You’re OK” that deals with how to interact with people with different personality types. The key to using these techniques in business or in life lies in that first part “I’m OK”. You have to understand and be OK (comfortable) with who you are before you can move on to dealing with someone else.

So, maybe Coupland is correct. When we feel lonely, we need to be alone so that we can get right with God and ourselves, forgive ourselves if necessary, validate ourselves and get back to the point of feeling that “I’m OK”. If you can get there, the lonely part will take care on itself.

Hey, “you’re OK”, too.

After the tears…

December 8, 2016

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote – “I like walking in the rain, because nobody can see my tears.”  (Charlie Chaplin) Most people did not know about the great anguish that Charlie Chapman had during his life. Chaplin’s life was far removed from the funny little tramp that he played on the screen.

Jack also wrote – Billy Graham has said that he often prays to God with tears in his eyes. God understands crying, as did Leonardo da Vinci  who said – “Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” 

crying-1Sometimes having a good cry is the best immediate response to something that has happened in our lives, both sad and happy things. Letting go for that moment and allowing yourself to weep provides a needed release from the unnatural control that we are all taught as we grow up. That same need for self-control also dulls the joy that we might otherwise feel from good things in our life. As Golda Meir once said – “Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”

Still, eventually life must go on, and as C.S. Lewis said, “Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” After the tears of pain or sorrow or even joy, one must put the cause of thatremorseful torment of tears into perspective within their life. Tears caused by pain, loss or sorrow most often involved another person and our memories of them. Perhaps the pain was caused by a snub or by bullying or by someone making a harsh or unfeeling remark to your or about you. In any case, life goes on and you must, too. “There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way.”  –  Libba Bray

So, what comes after the tears? I love this quote from Steve Maraboli – “Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.” There is forgivealmost always something or someone to forgive, even if you realize that it is yourself. I have witnessed people crying in anger at a deceased life partner because they felt like they left them here alone. They later have to forgive themselves for that selfish display. Perhaps the term forgive should include the thought of healing, too.

Certainly there is always something to learn from any event that causes us to come to tears – both good and bad – and we will be forever changed by that addition to our knowledge base. The memories of a lost loved one always influence our own future decisions.

The final step to take is to move on. Life goes on and so must you. It may be harder now, at least for now; but you have shed the tears that have watered your future and now it is timecivil-war-tear-catcher to make the best of that future.

Going back to Biblical times, in some cultures (ours included in the 19th century during the Victorian Era) tear catchers called LACHRYMOSA or LACHRYMATORY were devices for capturing tears of sadness and loss and saving them. Often the tears that were captured would be used in small vases into which a single flower might be placed at grave sites of the lost loved one. It was a ritualistic way to end the tears and bring a sense of closure to the cause of those tears by using them to honor the lost loved one at their grave site. Life could then move on.

Have faith that God sees your anguish and hears your cries. Psalm 56 says,

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.”

rainbowSo, go ahead and have that good cry;  whether it be in sadness or in joy, forgive and then realize in the words of John Vance Cheney that – “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” Find the rainbow after the tears and move on. God will keep track of those tears for you and makes the rainbow to show you the way forward.

Traveling light helps in life, too…

October 13, 2014

Air travelers would probably be quick to tell you that traveling light, without a lot of baggage, is the best way to man with heavy bagget through the airports. The advice to travel light, without a bunch of baggage, also works well for life.

In today’s post at the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack posted a yard sign that he recently saw – “Forgive, forget and move on!”  (Front-yard sign)

Many of us tend to travel through life with way too much emotional baggage in tow.  We insist on carrying around remorse, anger, hate, envy, sadness, and more. No wonder it takes us forever to get though the security checkpoints of life.

lifes stormsThe weight of all of this baggage not only slows us down, it effects how others look at us and deal with us. That weight tends to curl your lips down, into a frown, or case such a pall over our faces that we constantly look mad or sad. Beyond just how we look, the weight of all of that negative baggage can lead to depression; and continuing down that path leads to no good.

So, what are we to do? The advice that Jack saw on the yard sign is as good start. Whatever the wrong that you feel was committed against you; forgive the person for whom you are currently carrying the baggage of anger, hate, envy or revenge. Put that baggage down, forget about it and move on. If you are carrying the baggage of remorse for something that you did, make it right or apologize or just file away the lesson learned and forget about it and move on.

The baggage of sadness is oft the hardest to put down, especially the sadness of a the loss of a loved one. One dreams
must try to replace that baggage with the lighter and easier to live with memories of the good times when that person was still here. It’s OK to keep those bags of good memories with you the rest of your life. In fact get them out from time to time when you need to put a smile on your face.

As you start out on another week of life’s journey, check your baggage to see what you are carrying with you. Make sure to leave the negative baggage behind. Start by forgiving, forgetting about it and then you can move on. I think that you’ll find that traveling lighter makes your life more fun. I’m pretty sure that others will better appreciate taking a seat next to you on the journey, if they see that you don’t have a ton of emotional baggage stuffed under your seat.

Max Lucado put it well when he said – “The burlap bag of worry. Cumbersome. Chunky. Unattractive. Scratchy. Hard to get a handle on. Irritating to carry and impossible to give away. No one wants bag with goodbyeyour worries.” In fact, no one other than you wants to share your emotional baggage; so get rid of it before you set out on this week’s journey.

Forgive, forget and have a great trip!