Don’t look for perfection…look instead for the wonderful.

October 15, 2019

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack used this quote from Annette Funicello – “Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.”  I suspect that many don’t remember Annette Funicello, the movie actress and ex-Mousketeer. Annette died from complications of multiple sclerosis after a long battel with the disease. Certainly, her later life was not perfect, but she made the best of it. Many find themselves in situations that are far from perfect. Those who do best in those situations are those who can still find the wonder in life.

I have a feeling that, if life were without problems all of the time it would become boring and much less wonderful. Another of Jack’s recent quotes comes to mind – “Just because a path is difficult doesn’t mean that it’s not rewarding.”  (Danielle Thralow)

In fact, it is in overcoming difficulties and challenges that most people find the most satisfying feelings of being alive. There may be some real, physical reward at the end of a struggle, but just the feeling of accomplishment and victory over the problem is the best reward. For most in their “prime” years, life is too intense to be boring. They work heads-down to make the living that allows them to play hard in their few moments of off time. The demands of job and family life fill each day and seldom give boredom a chance to creep in.

When they retire, it is the dramatic reduction in the daily challenges at work that leave many feeling bored and less useful. Some actually channel the energy that they used to use at work into their retirement hobbies. Many just go back to work, perhaps in some other field than the one that they retired from, or in volunteer work. They crave the challenges and feelings of reward for a job well done. I personally find the thought of sitting around with nothing to do to be completely alien. Therefore, I work at two jobs part-time and do quite a bit of volunteer work.  

Whatever stage in life you are in, it is important to look for the wonderful in life, instead of hanging on the imperfect things. Looking for and finding the wonderful things in your life isn’t that hard, but it does require that you stop for a few moments to stop and look up from your daily routine (some use the word grind) and think about all of the things in your life that you love. Stop and think for a moment about your family, maybe about your home, possibly about your job and certainly about all of the things that God has given you. It may not all be perfect, but it certainly is wonderful, when you really think about it.

Sometimes just taking that pause to wonder at all that you have allows you to stop worrying about things that you don’t have or to let go of things that are not perfect. Ignore the imperfect and look instead upon the wonderful in your life.

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Seeing love in your mind’s eye…

October 9, 2019

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack told a wonderful little story that used this quote as it’s headline – “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”  (Shakespeare) Go read Jack’s post.

There is a little phrase that people often use – “in my mind’s eye”. They use it to describe the ability to “see” things in our minds. Athletes use this ability to visualize a shot or a play ahead of it actually happening. Most of us use it to give form to our imaginations and conjure up images of the good or bad things to come. It is interesting that vision is the primary sense that we imagine in our minds and not touch or smell or sounds (although most dreams, which also take place in the mind, involve sounds as well as things that we see).

So, how does one see love in the minds eye? I would submit that is less visual than it sounds and involves the “mental” sensations of various of our senses all at the same time. One does not so much “see” love and they sense it, they experience it. You can watch love (or experience it yourself) as a child (or adult) plays with a new puppy. There is unconditional love coming from the puppy and the new owner is returning that love. You also see it many times with young couples interacting when they think no one is watching (or they don’t care if anyone is watching).

Trying to put the experience of love into words gets complicated. It is a feeling of warmth and safety and surrender and reciprocation and comfort and appreciation that washes over you all at the same time. There are alliterative phrases that have been used by authors, poets and song writers trying to describe this feeling, like “melting into his arms” or “a warm embrace” or “swimming in the pools of her eyes”. Whatever words one chooses to use to describe the feeling of love usually end up describing a very satisfying experience or state of mind.

How do you “see” love in your mind’s eye? What words come to your mind when you think of someone (or something) that you love? Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Imagine how great you would feel is you could love everyone that you meet. That is what Jesus asked us to do in Luke, Mark and Matthew when he stated the Second Great Commandment – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” What a great place to live this world would be if instead of meeting people with judgement or fear or prejudice or hate, we met them with love in our minds. The next time you meet a stranger, trying seeing them with love in your mind’s eye.

Have a great and loving day. I’ll be seeing you.


It is your house…what will you do?

October 7, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote from teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg:

“I want you to act as if your house is on fire.”

It is common wisdom that when threatened most people react one of two ways – flight or fight. The flight response can take many forms – actually running away, lying to yourself and others, or just pretending not to notice. The fight response usually takes the form of some action to deal with the threat.

I would submit that the “house” that Greta alluded to is one that we all live in – the planet Earth – and the threat is not a fire but the effects of climate change. The response of many to this threat has been to ignore it or to create and spread the lie that it is not happening. That is a flight response. It is real. It is happening. Our house is on fire.

The flight response has not worked, nor will it ever work. We must turn and fight this fire in our house. Making that choice can leave you feeling a little like those pictures you see every now and then from California when wild fires are raging. Perhaps you’ve seen the ones with the homeowner standing there with his pathetic little garden hose trying to save his house by himself. It is a feeling of helplessness and being alone in a futile battle. That does not have to be the case.

You are not alone. There are many organizations out there that are rallying support against climate change. Some focus upon trying to get big companies to change their polluting ways; others focus on the political process and back candidates who get it and are committed to making changes to save the planet. Still others primarily focus upon educating the public and changing the mindsets of citizens who are still in flight mode by fighting against the misinformation being spread by the polluters themselves.

It’s time to take a stand and fight! It is your house. It is on fire! What will you do? Flight or fight?

Maybe it’s time to listen to the child – “And a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6 ) – and join Greta in her fight against climate change.


Don’t abuse yourself…Get the help that you need!

October 4, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote –

“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.”  (Jim Rohn)

One of our local Chamber of Commerce members is Nancy McDaniels, who is a personal trainer. Nancy uses a tag line that is similar – “Remember that your body is the only place that you have to live.”

While today’s post title may sound like I’m talking about active self-destructive behavior in which you abuse your body, it is just as much about just letting your body (or mind) go to pot as anything. Doing nothing is a popular option when contemplating following the proper diet and doing the exercise that you should be doing routinely. However, doing nothing is not a benign option; it is a destructive choice that too many people allow to rule their lives. Doing nothing is as abusive as doing obviously harmful things.

The body needs regular exercise to maintain muscle tone and to retain balance and flexibility. Up until he was on his deathbed, my grandfather had a daily morning routine in which he ran through a series of stretching and movement exercises to maintain his body. He lived to be 98. My father did not follow that example and only lived into his mid-70’s. Unfortunately, lately I have been more like my father than my grandfather. I need to get back to a regular routine of exercising.

Sometimes we all need someone else to prod us into doing the things that we should be doing. In the case of your physical health that somebody is often a personal trainer. Just joining a gym or health club isn’t really enough, just like buying an exercise bike for your home isn’t usually successful either. Both are easy to blow off when you have no one to hold you accountable. That’s one of the roles of the personal trainer.

In addition to abusing your body by not exercising regularly, one can abuse themselves mentally by getting down on themselves all the time or allowing themselves to be mentally overwhelmed into a state of depression. Often the root cause of alcoholism this feeling of being overwhelmed and seeing alcohol as the way to feel better. That is not the answer!

I’ve also posted here a few times about the importance of loving yourself – See https://normsmilfordblog.com/2019/02/18/start-your-day-with-love-and-the-rest-will-take-care-of-itself/ or

https://normsmilfordblog.com/2019/04/25/look-within-first/

The point of these posts, and others that I’ve done on that topic, is that you must deal with your own self-image and get comfortable with who you are, in order to keep yourself mentally healthy.  Only then will you really be able to deal with the things that life throws at you that initially may seem to be overwhelming.

The feeling of being overwhelmed can quickly spiral into depression if you can’t deal with it. Depression can be as debilitating as an injury or physical illness.  Dealing with depression requires that you have some ability to identify it and I posted about that.

See – https://normsmilfordblog.com/2016/11/24/what-does-depression-feel-like/

Depression is seldom something that you should try to deal with alone; so, knowing when and how to ask for help is important. Maybe you will be on the other side, providing that help.

See –  https://normsmilfordblog.com/2016/12/12/get-help-give-help/

The take-away from all of this is that one needs to be proactive in managing both their physical and mental health. In both cases, there is positive impact to be had from engaging an outside party as your coach or councilor. Both your physical well being and your mental state can severely impact your body and that really is the only place that you have to live.

Don’t continue to abuse yourself; get the help that you need to keep your mind and body in great shape, whether that is a personal trainer or perhaps a mental health counselor.


You can’t deny it, so deal with it…

September 18, 2019

The first stage of grief is often defined as denial, the “I can’t believe that he/she is gone” or “I can’t believe that this happened” stage. That is also the first stage (maybe the precursor is a better description) of dealing with problems in life. Recently this quote appeared in the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“When you confront a problem, you begin to solve it.”  (Rudy Giuliani)

Zig Zigler put it slightly differently – “ The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.”

I’ve posted here a few times about problem solving (see Problem Solving 101) and there are lots of great posts and article on line about how to resolve a problem, once you have identified it. There are fewer things devoted to recognizing the problem in the first place.

Confronting the problem means acknowledging that it exists. For many it is that first step that is missing. They can’t see the problem, especially if it is them – how they are acting in or living their life.  Spousal abusers seldom see what they are doing as controlling or manipulative, much less as abusive. Addicts become too focused upon the next high to deal with their addiction. Sometimes it is hubris, as much as anything else that clouds the judgement of the problem; the arrogant and self-important people of the world see things that are considered wrong by others as rights or entitlements. For these people, who can’t see that they have a problem or that they are the problem, interventions by family or friends is often the only way to get them to confront the problem.

If denial is the first stage precursor to dealing with a problem, many times it is quickly replaced by excuses. The immediate response to any threat is fight or flight and excuses provide a little of both by providing a way  to deflect blame for the problem by claiming that it someone else’s fault or caused by someone else. The wife beater may blame the actions of his wife to justify the beating with the comment that “she deserved it”. It is also easy to shift the blame for ones actions on some nebulous entity, such as society or everybody.

Do you remember what your mom told when you used the excuse that “everybody is doing it” to justify something stupid that you did as a youth? That advice still applies to your adult life. You can’t ignore or deny a problem that you might have by citing that excuse. Maybe the “everybody” that you know and to whom you are referring to is a big part of your problem.  Recent Chevrolet commercials have used the tag line “Find new roads”; maybe you need to “Find new friends”.

Perhaps the third stage as a precursor to solving problems in your life is the feeling of isolation or loneliness that overcome you. It is a very lonely feeling when you have that “aha” moment and realize that you have a problem and that problem is within you. All of a sudden, everyone else seems to drop away and you are standing there by yourself with your problem. Or are you? That is the time when your faith can provide you with the support and strength to carry on. You are not alone. You are never alone. God is always there with you and ready to help. You just need to ask.

If you can get to that stage, where you ask God for help with your problem, you have broken through the stages of denial and blame and started to deal with the problem. That is huge!  It is likely that the problem is not resolved just because you have taken that first step, but you are on your way in a new direction (the right direction).  You have taken ownership and sought help. It may be that you need the help of others – therapists or councilors – but you already have God at your side, so that part is easier.

When you reach this stage, you should feel good about yourself, maybe for the first time in a long time. You may still find the next few steps in the problem solving process to be difficult, but they are rewarding as well. The problem is no longer in control of you. Now you are in control of the process to resolve it. Congratulations.

Start your day by asking for God’s help with whatever problems you have (or have been denying). Your day will go much better.


And for all the times in between?

September 13, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack got philosophical with this quote from Wolfgang Goethe – “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” 

However, what about all of the times between the joys and the not so enjoyable things, which must be endured, i.e. your normal day-to-day life? The philosophy embodied by the British saying, “Keep Calm and Carry On” seems most applicable to those times and actually serves the highs and lows of life very well, too. For a Christian that British saying might be translated into Pray and Persist.

We often pray when we are under the duress of a problem or loss and we pray to thank God on the occasions when we have something to celebrate. But what of the time in between? We find guidance in the Bible –  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)  

Prayer has a calming side effect, because it serves to offload from the practitioner the sole responsibility for resolving the issues that you are facing, whether they be things that must be endured or just common, everyday occurrences. Once you bring God into the picture through prayer, you no longer bear the weight of resolving those things by yourself.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Since, before starting out on each day, one cannot predict the occurrences or tribulations that might happen; perhaps a short prayer for God to give you the calm and wisdom to make good decisions is a good way to begin each day. At least it puts you in the right frame of mind to face the day, with God on your side.

So, thank God for the things that you enjoy, ask for God’s help with the things that you must endure and pray for Him to guide you and be with you in all of the time in between. Pray without ceasing and have a great day!


Don’t let the uda’s get you…

September 11, 2019

Some people always seem to let the uda’s take over their lives …the propensity to keeping saying I coulda or woulda or shoulda, when they don’t do something. They should heed the advice of the quote in today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog – “The six W’s…Work Will Win When Wishing Won’t!”  (Todd Blackledge)

The law of Inertia in physics states that a body at rest stays at rest unless some external force is applied to it.  Usually what is holding it in place is friction or maybe just gravity, so the force applied must be great enough to overcome whatever is holding it in place. In the frictionless environment of outer space, even a very small force applied to an object will cause it to move.

We face many cases of mental or emotional inertia in our daily lives. We are most often held in place by fears, prejudices or simply ignorance. We avoid someone who does look like us and thus never meet one of the most interesting people we may ever encounter. We don’t go to certain places or attend certain events because we are afraid of some imagined outcome and our lives are less rich for the loss of exposure to those experiences. We don’t try new things because, well, we just don’t try new things… we go with what we know. We let the uda’s take over our lives.

So, how can we apply the advice of today’s quote to this situation? The key is found in the first word – we must work at it, so that we don’t end up wishing that we had done (or sometimes not done) something. For many the best way to work at overcoming their personal inertia and spring into action is through prayer.  Long before Nike adopted it as a slogan, the bible had this to say about prayer –

Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out… The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. – Matthew 5:4-6

Pray for the courage to try. Pray for an open mind to accept others as they are. Pray for patience and persistence in difficult pursuits. Pray for the willingness to accept temporary setbacks and learn from them. Pray, most of all, to be the person that God wants you to be this day.

You may find that the days go a lot better for you when you start them out in the right frame of mind by taking that time to pray before you set out for whatever is ahead. You will sense His grace throughout the day and that grace will take away the friction that preventing movement in your life.

So take the advice of Matthew or maybe of Nike and Just Do It! The laws of physics also state that a body in motion stays in motion. Overcome your personal inertia by starting your day with a little prayer to get you moving. Don’t let the uda’s get you.