What do you see in your mirror?

September 25, 2019

“Let us be thankful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.”  (Samuel Butler)  – that was the quote used in the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write that is was good that the mirror just reflects what we let the outside world see and does not show our thoughts or feelings or fears. It just shows us what we look like to others. 

However, for some, even that is not true. They look in the mirror and see their imperfections or maybe they see an overweight person when a truly thin person is standing there. They actually distort the reflection much as a caravel mirror might. Some famous actresses, who are considered some of the most beautiful people in the world, have said in interviews that they considered themselves to be ugly, or at least not very attractive, when they were young. They didn’t like what they saw in the mirror, even if the rest of the world disagreed. People suffering from bulimia have a distorted view of themselves as being fat, when in fact most are rail thin.

Can you imagine how we all might look if the mirror reflected what is in our minds and hearts? Would that be an ugly image, filled with fears, anxieties, distrust, hate, bigotry and other things that we try not to let the world see? Perhaps, it would be the image of a loving, caring, intelligent and inquisitive person who is too timid to act upon or show those feelings. In all likelihood, it might look a bit like the cartoon characterizations of people with a devil on one shoulder and an angel; on the other. There seems to be a little of both in most people, with most able to keep the devil at bay, in public at least. That is sometimes called “being politically correct”.

So, what do you see in your mirror? Look deeper than just the reflection that you see. Can you see the flaws that lurk back there in the darker parts of your mind – the unfounded fears and prejudices, the feelings of superiority or entitlement, the lack of self-love and self-confidence, the uncertainly about death and your unanswered questions about your own mortality? For many, the reflections brought on by prayer provide a mirror for their lives. They look beyond the superficial image that than one can see in a real mirror and see the reassuring hand of God in their life and in the world, the goodness in the people that they’ve encountered, and the wonders of the world that He has created all around them. They are able to visualize, in that mirror of prayer, the rewards that await them in heaven? What do you see in your mirror when you stop to pray?

As you get ready to leave for your day today, stop and look in both of your mirrors.  The one on the wall that will let you see the physical image that the world will be seeing and allow you to adjust your hair and clothes and the one in prayer that will let you adjust what you really want the world to see – the hand of God in your life. You’ll look better throughout the day because you checked both mirrors.

What do you see in your mirror? Which one are you looking at?

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What are you listening to? Time to change the tune!

February 2, 2014

I ran across this little saying in a blurb about a new book recently – The Voice You Listen to Will Determine the Future You Experience.  The saying was in the advertising for the new book by Stephan Furtick titled Crash the Chatterbox. In Crash the Chatterbox, best-selling author Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas in which negative thoughts are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. He asks, “What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?”

fearI have written in the part about FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt – which is common in the business world and is often used as a delaying tactic by larger companies to keep customers from buying from smaller, more nimble companies with new products. Just throw out a little FUD about the new product or the small company and you will freeze a certain portion of the market.

I’ve also written about the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda’s – those after the fact regrets that we all get from time to time about things left undone; especially things that turn out to have been really fun for those not so timid that they didn’t even try.

Whenever I write one of these pieces, I get feedback from new readers saying they liked what I wrote and inviting me to see what they’re up to. For the most part these are from people now well on their way to dispairrecovering from some dark period in their lives; something that drove them in places in their minds from which they may still be struggling to escape.

The good news is that most of them have made it out of their person hells, or have at least begun the journey back, and they are usually now espousing a more positive, upbeat outlook on life. Most, but not all. There are still way too many people out there, many of them spewing out words of hate or darkness and despair on their blogs. I refuse to go there with them.

Whatever the situation that has occurred to drag those people into the hole that they are in needs to be confronted as the first step to recovery. No matter what it is – it is; and once you accept that, you can ask yourself the next question – “Now, what I’m I going to do from here?”

I wrote recently about the four candles story; about the candles of peace and faith and love being extinguished, and how having the candle of hope still lit enables the other three to be relit. Sometimes preceding any effort to use Hope to relight the other candles in your life it is necessary to just stop – stop the wallowing in pity and self-blame; pause the fear, uncertainty and doubt; put aside the insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement for the moment – and accept the fact that you are where you are and that there is nothing that you can do to change that.

The next step, at least for me, is to admit that you cannot solve everything by yourself. Just admitting that will take a large load off your shoulders. For many, having gotten into this mental state is a paralyzing experience – nothing gets done because everything is feared. Others may try and try different ways out, edge of the abyssonly to find that each door just leads them deeper into the maze of despair.

Sometimes it is right at the edge of the abyss that many finally figure out that help has been with them all along. They stop. Some get down on their knees, some just look up; but all eventually say, “Not my will but thy will be done.” They offload their troubles to the only power strong enough to bear any burden. In that moment they experience liberation from the troubles and darkness that have surrounded them. They have chosen to listen to the voice of Hope and they have used the last flicker of the candle of hope to relight the candle of faith. They will see the candles of love and peace also be quickly reignited in their lives as well when they stop doing the things that have been pushing others away.

So listen to the voice of hope. That will also let you hear the voices of faith, love and peace in your life. If you can do that, the calliope of negative noise that tries to overwhelm you from time to time will be shut outlistening toi music of your life. Think of it as if you are wearing a set of noise canceling earphones and the only thing you can hear is a playlist made up of the pleasant sounds and tunes of hope, faith, love and peace. People will wonder why you are walking around with a smile on your face all the time. Maybe you’ll even have time to read the book by Pastor Furtick – Crash the Chaterbox.


Be the Daffodil…

December 12, 2013

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  (Albert Camus) from  http://www.jackswinningwords.blogspot.com/ .

The allusion to winter and summer is often used in literature when the authors are writing about good and bad times in life. We all have our “winter” times in life. It might be a time when a loved one has died or perhaps it is a time when one has lost a job and can’t see another on the horizon. Sometimes we create our own winter by letting our imagination run away with us, turning a minor issue into a huge problem. In some cases there appears to be medical reasons why some people’s brains take them off into winter. Those cases can often be help by proper medications.

For those non-medical reasons that cause us to slip into a wintry mood, we need to pause and try to find that invincible summer that is there within us all. We may have to make an extraordinary effort, but it is there.  The invincible summer is that spark of hope and faith and optimism that, if allowed to grow and flame-up within us, can get us through anything. In some cases it will be based upon faith. In some hope will provide the spark and in either case optimism will fan the spark into a flame that will drive away the darkness and cold of your winter.

Daffodil Blooming Through The Snow Stock Photo By -Marcus-

Daffodil Blooming Through The Snow Stock Photo
By -Marcus-

The images conjured up by winter are cold and darkness and perhaps loneliness. Summers bring thoughts of warmth and sunlight and good times with friends and family. I recall every Spring, when winter is giving way to summer, photos that I have seen and used in advertising over the years of a hardy little Daffodil peeking out from a snow drift, bringing its bright yellow message of hope for summer, even in the midst of winters last snowy gasp. That invincible little Daffodil is the harbinger of the summer ahead.

Perhaps you can find a Daffodil in the midst of your winter; or, better yet, be the Daffodil that brightens up someone’s wintry day and gets them started back towards summer. Taking the time to reach out to someone that you see needs help finding summer in their life can also brighten your life and help you through your own wintry periods.

So, peak out from beneath the snow of winter and let your invincible summer shine through. Be the Daffodil and bring summer on.


Looking for your incredible moment…

December 9, 2013

From the blog Jack’s Winning Words comes this quote –  “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”  (Carl Sagan).  Jack went on to talk about all of the incredible things that are happening or about to happen, such as commercial spaceflight, robotic surgery, and Amazon using robo-helicopters to deliver packages.

As I thought about it, I thought what about modifying the saying a little to read, “Somewhere, rainbowsomething incredible is waiting to happen for you.” If you go through life hoping for and expecting the best to happen, eventually they will. If you believe in people, in their basic honesty and integrity; you will not be disappointed most of the time. If you imagine and visualize the best outcome for whatever you are doing, it is surprising how many times you can make that come true. And, if you strive to find the silver lining in dark situations or the rainbow at the end of one of life’s storms, it is always there, waiting for you to find it.

 I keep a little compilation of quotes handy, in case I need inspiration for a blog post. A group of them are quotes by Robert Brault, a famous writer on optimism. One of my favorites is this one-

grim reaperOptimist: someone who notices a tall hooded figure with a scythe trailing him and thinks, “Boy, I’m sure glad I’m not a stalk of wheat.”

So, don’t be a stalk of wheat today. Be someone who takes every opportunity to find that incredible something somewhere that is waiting to happen in your life. You could just wait to stumble into it or you can look at everything in your life as possibly being that incredible moment and approach it with anticipation and enthusiasm.

One of the side benefits of being in that mood and mode is that it is contagious and those around you will see it and catch it and everyone will be a bit happier and better off because of your attitude. Maybe that is he incredible thing that you are going to do today. 


Face into the storms in your life…

November 4, 2013

“Facing it, always facing it…that’s the way to get through.  Face it!”  (Joseph Conrad) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

From what Jack went on to write, seamen know that once you are in a storm, you get through it by facing into it, not turning away or trying to run away from it. Life is like that, too. We don’t go looking for storms in life, but occasionally we all get caught up in them. Perhaps it’s a disagreement with a loved one or friend. Perhaps it has to do with dealing with a bad situation at work. Maybe it’s realizing too late that what you mistook for love for someone else in your youth turned out to be just lust and lifes stormsnow that the ardor has cooled there is little substance to your relationship left. These types of things are the “storms” in our lives and we must do as the seaman would and face into them, not try to run away.

Many people are what is labeled as non-confrontational; they just hate confronting anyone about things. That’s OK and actually not as bad as being the overbearing opposite – a bully. However non-confrontational you are, there is still the need to face the issues that are affecting your life. Acquiescing to situations that are wrong or make you feel uncomfortable, just to get along, is a sure prescription for misery. Facing those problems is not being confrontational, it’s just being practical.

One benefit of just facing the storms in your life is that it gets over with quicker that way. The more you try to run or hide from life’s storms the longer they linger and sometimes the stronger they grow. Face it, get through it and get on with life. No matter what the short term hardship or pain, you’ll be surprised how good it feels when you come out on the other side. You probably will also realize how many of the bad things that you feared might happen were really all in your imagination. Humans have an amazing ability to imagine scenarios and consequences that seldom come true.

Another thing that you can do to help you get through life’s storms is to face them with a smile. man relaxingNothing is as disarming to those who would spread hate or trouble into your life than to have their efforts be met with a smile. At first they’ll be annoyed that they can’t drag you down to their level; but, then, they’ll begin to wonder what you are smiling about and how you can smile in the face of whatever negative energy they are trying to spread. Eventually, they’ll go away, seeking someone else to infect with their problem or they may ask you how you can appear to be so happy in the face of the storm that they are trying to conjure up. You may end up making a new friend out of that conversation.

Now, I certainly don’t recommend that you become a storm chaser. Avoiding storms altogether is something that everyone should try to do, if you have enough warming about them; however, when you find yourself swept up in a storm, heed the advice of the seaman and face it. Here’s hoping that you have a sunny day with no storms on your horizon.


Playing on the one string we have…

June 6, 2013

“The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.” (Chuck Swindoll) Swindoll went on to say, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Today’s saying from my favorite local blog – Jack’s Winning Words.

I used to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about things that I just couldn’t change anyway. I still have occasional fits of anxiety-driven worry; however, I’ve tried to adopt the attitude that I’ll just let the scenario play itself out instead of worrying about all possible outcomes, especially the bad one that one’s imagination can conjure up.

Do you spend time worrying about what might be, instead of going on about the business of actually doing what will be? I saved another saying that appeared in one of Jack’s blogs that seems appropriate to that situation – “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” (Niels Bohr)happy face

Remember that “What will be will be” eventually turns into “It is what it is” and you really have little control over any of it, except how you act and react to the situation. So, don’t worry, be happy and play on the one string that you have.


YOU have to make it happen

March 12, 2013

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them. – George Bernard Shaw

I have a whole raft of sayings by Shaw that I keep on hand for inspiration and reflection. This saying is one of Shaw’s inspirational sayings. Basically it admonishes us to take action to create the success (circumstances) that we desire. It is way too easy to just look around and not immediately see the circumstances that we desire and resign ourselves to living with what we do see. The harder decision is to take action to create what we do not see.

A key ingredient to achieving success would seem to be unwavering optimism. It is hard enough to keep plugging away in the face of adversity, much less trying to do so with an attitude of pessimism. I like another saying, this one by Paul Harvey to cover that topic – “I’ve never seen a monument erected to a pessimist.” That applies whether or not what you are trying to do is deserving of a monument.

I think another; more subtle message in the Shaw saying above is that you must be looking for that success (circumstances). This gets back to the message that forms the base of most self-help advice – you must visualize what you want before you can start to accomplish it. The antithesis of success is not really failure, it is apathy. Out of failures one can learn and move on; however, apathy tends to lock us in place.

So get up today and look around. If what you see is not what you want your life to be, visualize what you want, where you want to be, what you want to be doing and get started towards those goals. It won’t just happen; you’ve got to make it happen.