Sometimes achieving your dream turns out to be disappointing…

April 25, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s thought –

“It hurts to find out that what you wanted doesn’t match what you dreamed it would be.”  (Randy Milholland)

That quote sort of goes along with the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” The origins of that saying are somewhat obscure but may have come from a Spanish proverb.

We often romanticize things in our dreams, seeing only the beauty that we hope is thereman daydreaming and none of the warts that may go along with it. That is often the case when we dream about things, owning things or doing things. Somehow we have this belief that we would be happy, if only we owned that thing that we don’t now have. It could be a car, a house, a boat, whatever; we’re just sure that it and owning it is the key to our happiness. Then we finally get it and guess what; it’s just a thing. Owning it may make us feel happy for a few moments, but then something else out in the distance that we don’t own catches our attention and acquiring that new thing becomes our obsession.

The same issues arise when dreaming about people, or maybe about Mr. or MS. Right. Our fantasies are encouraged and fed by the world of advertising and the entertainment industry, both of which tend to show us only images of beautiful people with apparently perfect lives. Of course the drug store tabloids have headlines that scream out that all is not as it seems in those perfect lives and Hollywood divorces certainly seem to outnumber the success stories of married famous couples. So, it would seem that being married to Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie isn’t all that we might have imagined it would be.

mother with childHow do we avoid the disappointment of reality not matching our dreams? One could just say stop dreaming; but that is not realistic either.  Perhaps rather than stopping dreaming about some ideal person we’d like to or about things that we wish to possess, we could start appreciating what we already have in life and the people that we already know. Maybe the next step it to see a path to achieving our dream that is comprised of small steps in the general direction of that dream, maybe we could buy a newer car, with some of the features that we’ve been dreaming about; rather than buying that ultimate dream car. Maybe going out with Mr. OK is a step in the direction of finding Mr. Wonderful, and at least you have someone real to talk to and not just another lonely night with a dream. Life is full of compromises and you might even find that Mr. or Ms. OK turn out to be better than you had thought. You might even find love. Dr. Seuss even had an interesting observation about that – “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

So, go ahead and dream; but, dream with your eyes open to the reality of life. Making the most of your life by appreciating those people and things that surround you on a daily basis is much better than moping about those things and people in your dreams that you don’t have. If you find that your commitment to achieving your dreams is strong enoughgoal and persistent enough to pursue as a goal in life, then start turning your dreams into plans and start working away at them. Your dream has now turned into your vision of where you want to go in life and what you want to achieve and you are now on a journey to turn those dreams into your reality.  Mark Victor Hansen put it this way – “You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.”

Let’s hope that you are not disappointed when you get there.


Make a decision today to change your tomorrow…

April 20, 2017

Two recent quotes from the Jack’s Winning Words blog make sense to use together –

“None of us can change our yesterdays, but all of us can change our tomorrows.”  (Colin Powell)

And

“You’re always one decision away from a totally different life.”  (Unknown)

Did you ever stop and think about how things change in your life? We all get used to doing things the same way each day, it becomes our daily pattern and we become comfortable with those patterns because they don’t require new decisions from us; we can just continue doing what we’ve always done and there’s a sense of comfort to be found in that. Staying in your daily routines/patterns can also become restrictive. One doesn’t stretch at all and learn new things or meet new people if one does the same things in the same ways each day.

I recently posted about improvising and putting a little jazz in your life. That is a decision to take your life in a different direction. It definitely will impact and change your tomorrows. Maybe you start with a few small decisions like taking a different way to work or finally saying hello to the co-worker that you’ve been meaning to meet. Maybe smell-the-rosesyou decide to finally accept that invitation for coffee or a date with the person who has been trying for so long to ask you out or maybe you finally decide to ask out that person whom you have been secretly wanted to go out with. Maybe you just decide to take some time out of your hectic and busy schedule for some “you” time – time in which you aren’t trying to “accomplish” anything other than to have some time for yourself. That may be what you need right now.

Perhaps the decision that you will make today that changes your life is to get back to church and to re-establish your relationship with God. Many wander away from organized religion as they grow into adulthood and get caught up in the demands of day-to-day life. It is easy to push religion and church down your priority list, maybe afterchurch soccer or hockey practice or below going shopping; until it falls off the bottom of the list and is no longer a part of your life. You can rationalize it by saying, “I still believe in God, but I just don’t like churches and going to church.” You may even think that you’ll maintain your relationship with God through personal prayer time; but, that, too, falls by the wayside. Just like going to the gym is the only real way to have the discipline to do a good workout, going to church each Sunday is the best way to add time (and discipline) for your religion into your busy schedule. It is a habit that you need to keep in your life.

You might be thinking, why should I make any changes in my life; I’m happy with where I am and what’s going on in my life. I go to church each week and even read my bible on occasion. That’s great that you’ve achieved a state of contentment in the routines of your life and have religion as a part of that routine; but, I would challenge you with the question, “Are you achieving your potential in life?” Each of us has a God given potential to not only be happy with our own lives, but to help make the lives of others better, too. Maybe that’s the next level in life that you can strive to get to. If you can say to yourself, I’m happy with who I am and with what I have and with my life in general; then perhaps it is time to consider what you could be doing to help those around you, who are not as fortunate as you, get to that same place. Why?

Consider this – “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to havehelper faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17

So, maybe the decision that you make today that will change your life is one of devoting some part of your life to the service of others. It doesn’t have to be your full-time job; but, it should be a commitment that you make with what time and resources that you have available. Maybe it starts with weekends at a shelter serving soup or perhaps making visits to shut-ins in your community. Maybe you join a community group in a food drive or volunteer to help with a charity event. There is always need in every community for those willingseerving othersto devote some time and effort to help others.

Don’t get hung up on what you haven’t done with your life in the past. Remember Colin Powell’s opening quote and focus upon changing your tomorrow. You are just one decision away from changing your life for the better. No matter how good your life may seem, there will always be something missing until you fill that void with God and start serving Him and serving others. Only then will you be able to experience the peace that passes all understanding. Have a great day and think about making that decision that will change your life.


Against the wind…

April 18, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this inspirational message – “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”  (Henry Ford) Jack also mentioned the Bob Seger hit “Against The Wind”, which he commented was inspired by Segar’s days as a cross country runner and running into the wind.

Going against the wind, into the face of adversity, can be something that lifts us like the airplane, to new heights. There are lots of inspirational sayings about how dealing with adversity makes us stronger or better people. It’s easy in the midst of a crisis to lose sight of all of those sayings and advice about the thought that what doesn’t kill us make us stronger.

depression3Perhaps the best thing to think about in moments of crisis, when you are struggling into the wind, is that you are not alone. Most real crises in life leave us feeling alone, like it is us against the world or maybe that no one else in the world can know and understand what you are going through and how you feel about it. Yet we are not alone. God is there with us through everything, waiting patiently for us to acknowledge Him and turn to Him for help. Why would he wait for us to ask? He gave us free will and he is waiting for us to acknowledge that we cannot help ourselves in this situation and to finally say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

No matter how steep of a dive you are in, spiraling down into the abyss of despair and depression; if you hand God the wheel and let Him take control of your life, he will pull you back out of that pit. You are acknowledging to God that, “I cannot save myself; but Ireading-bible believe that you can save me.” The two main thoughts there are letting go of your ego and the struggle to find the solution by yourself and putting your trust and belief in the power of God. You may still be buffeted by the winds that you are facing and there may still be pain; but, you will also feel the power of God to take whatever the winds may throw your way and use it to lift you up.

Once you hear God say to you, “I’ve got this”, you can let go of those things from your past that have been causing you pain and start to look forward to a brighter future. Life can once again become a journey of endless discovery and new joys and not the dead-end path of despair that you were traveling. You will also find it much easier to use the little sports phrase, “little help here” when appealing to God for guidance and help with future adversities. It becomes easier and easier to turn to Him when you have woman-prayingexperienced His hand in your life in past crises; and the good news is that the result is always the same – He lifts you up whenever you are running against the wind.

So, no matter what the current crisis is in your life; take a moment to stop and invite God back into your life and embrace the help that He can give you. The problems that you have may be bigger than anything that you can deal with, but noting is too big for God to handle, if you let Him take control. If you have to run against the wind, at least take along God as your running mate. It’s amazing how the wind parts in front of you when He is running interference for you.

Have a great rest of the week and don’t fear the winds that may be swirling around you. God will use them to lift you up.


Improvise and put a little jazz in your life

April 13, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Wining Words blog come today’s inspirational saying – “Life is a lot like jazz.  It’s best when you improvise.”  (George Gershwin)

Improvising is basically doing something that is out of the ordinary or the expected. Jazz musicians may have no idea where they are going or where they’ll end up when they take off on an improvise riff, but it often ends up being something great sounding. Life jazz-1can be like that if you are willing to head off into a new adventure, not sure where you’re going or where you’ll end up but just improvising as you go. Put a little jazz in your life.

The same thing that makes Jazz work can work in our lives. The brains of the Jazz musician have enough understanding of music principles and progressions to keep the musician from getting off into the weeds of just sounding like random notes. When improvising in life we need to trust what some call our instincts and others would call our common sense. We don’t usually do things that are really stupid just to try something new; however, too often we let misplaced and unwarranted fears hold us back from trying new things or meeting new people. Change up your life and try to improvise from time to time. Put a little jazz in your life.

Improvising is trying something new. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it well when he said – “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” Yet many people sit and wait for something to happen in their life that will somehow magically change it. Germany Kent said, “Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are new-way-forwardin.” Making the most of that moment is trying something new, putting a little jazz in your life.

For some people the way to try something new is to go somewhere new, to travel. Alex Day put it this way – “If real, regular, normal, boring life, (when you’re at home every day, seeing the same people, doing the same things) is like sitting at home on the floor surrounded by toys… traveling feels to me like going to Toys R Us with your toy box and getting to trade stuff in and buy new things and explore whole new ideas.” I don’t think you really trade in your old toys (or memories) but rather add to your memory toy box. Put a little jazz in your life.

Trying something new or even going someplace new will always involve some risk and that’s a good thing. Rita Wilson said – “Be fearless in trying new things, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, since being afraid can challenge you to go to the next level.” And Roger von Oech aid this about risk – “Everyone has a ‘risk muscle.’ You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don’t, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day.” So, take a risk, improvise and put a little Jazz in your life.

You can certainly find new things to do in life without looking like an episode of Jackass from TV. Just think of things that others have told you that you can’t do or maybe you convicted yourself that you couldn’t do and then go do it. Pablo Picasso out it this way – “I’m always doing things I can’t do. That’s how I get to do them.” Don’t end up life with a bad case of the coulda, wouda shoulda’s. Like the Nike ad says – Just do it. Improvise and put a little Jazz in your life.

mime in boxLife without some improvising and trying new things can begin to feel like the world that the mime is trying to portray when he mimes being in a glass box – there are walls everywhere that prevent you from going beyond some self-imposed limits. You can see through the walls and some things look appealing, but you hold back, afraid to try something out of the ordinary for you.  There is comfort in the familiar, in staying within the box; but a feeling of confinement, too. Break out of your self-imposed box and put a little jazz in your life.


Age is number, but old is a state of mind…

April 6, 2017

I seldom think about aging, although I am now more often reminded by a new ache or pain, about the fact that it is happening to me. I really like a couple of quotes that appeared not too long ago in the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“Whenever I complain that things aren’t what they used to be, I always forget to include myself.”  (George Burns)

“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”  (Victor Hugo)

Victor HugoVictor Hugo was before my time, but I have fond memories of watching George Burns and Gracie Allen on TV when I was younger. I don’t spend much time complaining about how things aren’t what they used to be. For the most part things are better. Our modern conveniences would have been unimaginable in the “good ole days”; and life is generally better for them. Perhaps, of the two quotes, Hugo’s is most applicable to me.  While good genes have prevented a complete white out on my head, my age does show a bit there. Fortunately, I am able to experience eternal spring in my heart because I still find day-to-day life to be so interesting and way too much fun to let age slow me down.

The main thing that I find so much joy in is meeting and interacting with new people.handshake There is so much to learn from everyone that we meet that is it a shame when some people allow age to trap them into isolation. For some it is not their desire to be isolated but their physical disabilities that prevents them from getting out and interacting with others. There are many people trapped in their own homes or in care facilities who thirst for human interactions. That is why I have recommended in the past that people volunteer for jobs like Meals on Wheels or to visit care facilities and just talk to people. Drivers for Meals on Wheels will tell you that many of the people they serve are as happy to be able to talk to someone as they are about getting the food.

Back on topic; I’ve written here before about trying not to lose the ability to play ( see my post – Reclaim your ability to play) ; to get lost in the wonder of something; to be young at heart. It is that ability that Hugo was writing about. The story Peter Pan was about that same thing; how we lose our childhood ability to fly (if only in our minds) and live with Peter Pan in Neverland. It is something that is actually stolen from us by those older than us who have already lost it themselves. It is the need to “grow up” and “act like a man”. Childlike wonder at life and the ability to enjoy it without reservations is never really lost; but we are taught that we need to suppress those things; that it is not acceptable to behave like a child anymore. Life, after all, is serious stuff.

I’ve also written here about not losing that ability to sneak back into that childlike mode of pure fun from time to time or as needed. I called that post “Put a Little humor in your life” but it was really about being able to get back to that childlike state of mind that can allow you to laugh at yourself and at life by making a funny face in the mirror in the smiling dogmorning. Sure, real life is serious stuff; but, that doesn’t mean that you have to be serious about living it every single moment – you’ll serious yourself into old age and death that way.

In addition to keeping your ability to let go of seriousness every now and then and just playing (if only in your mind); the other thing that can keep getting old at bay is to never stop learning. I read recently in BusinessWeek that a recent trend is for retirees to go back to school to learn a new skill or even a new trade. It is apparently a big thing with people retiring who have risen to important positions in their business life and now face the prospect of life without the challenges that they so enjoyed in that success. Many chose to take their business skills and apply them in non-profit or charitable organizations, but a growing number chose to change directions completely and head off into a second career in fields like health care or education – field where they can be of service to others. For them it is a way to avoid getting old, no matter what their age. Henry Ford understood this concept years ago when he said, “Anyone who brain mapstops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

So, never stop learning and never lose the ability to play, to have fun in your mind. Age is just a state of mind; and, as Mark Twain said – “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Have a great day and stay young – make a funny face in your mirror this morning.


Add diversity and add perspective to your life…

April 4, 2017

I recently saw an ad for a diversity training course that is being offered by one of the local real estate associations. If one takes the course they will receive a designation that they supposedly can use in their real estate advertising that somehow is supposed to increase their business by certifying them as being diversity aware and sensitive. It just looked to me like someone has thought up a new way to make a buck selling a training course.

In my prior life in the corporate world, I attended several diversity training courses over the span of my career. The early ones focused almost entirely on racial diversity but eventually they evolved into ethnic and gender diversity and more recently into sexualembrace diversity orientation/preference diversity. One thing that all of these courses had in common is the us vs. them mentality with which they approach the topic. It is always taught from the perspective that we (the us in the equation) don’t understand and appreciate the other group’s life experiences and thus don’t understand their lifestyle or their perspective on life. There is certainly truth in that statement, but I always wondered why it had to start from us vs. them and not to find a way to start with just “us” as a whole, as humans, and go from there.

Of course, the other starting point perspective was the “we” are the white majority and predjuices“they” are in whatever minority that the course is focused upon.  Current demographic trends will soon make that statement false. Most of these courses try to teach the attendees how to “value differences”, which is to say how to accept and embrace those differences as good things and not just odd things. Companies that have truly embraced diversity have prospered and people who individually embrace diversity will do better, too. Why? Because their lives will be richer because of understanding, experiencing and assimilating those differences into their own lives. Understanding and embracing differences also serves to remove the unwarranted fears that the unknown always brings with it.

The latest group to demand and deserve to be the subject of of diversity acceptance is the GLBTQI community. This group has also faced rejection by the so-called “moral lbgtqi-symbolmajority”. Imagine the moral outrage that would be caused in that group by encountering a black, transgender person from the middle east living as a woman. One wouldn’t know where to start discriminating against that person. It might send the moral majority into apoplexy in North Carolina, if they asked to go to the bathroom.

I think one of the things that pulls us towards understanding diversity is our innate curiosity to understand people and what makes them tick. That’s one reason that I wrote the post Trying to understand others without a frame of reference.  That article referenced a very interesting blog post by Lori Sealy, a young lady who lives on the Autism spectrum. Lori related some of her day-to-day experiences and how she sees and feels things differently than most people (the “us” in that case) do. People with needs that are different from the normal needs of the vast majority of the people also bring a different (nee diverse) perspective that deserves attention and understanding.  So now our worst case example might be an autistic black transgender person from the middle east living as a woman. It boggles the mind of a bigot.

There is great potential value in diversity since it brings with it ideas and perspectives that you will never have on your own, based solely on your limited life experiences. You may not like or agree with all of those ideas and perspective, but at least you will now know that they exist and that there are people who do like and embrace them. You may also find yourself challenged to be able to respond the question “why don’t you try it” when asked about a food or a clothing style or a type of music or whatever else comes along with the diverse background and culture of the person that you have met.

timidDon’t panic. They aren’t likely to ask you to do something illegal or totally out of character for you; but, they may challenge you to stretch your comfort zone a bit, so that you can share an experience from their perspective or their culture. Go for it on the things that you can and be polite when declining the ones that you just can’t bring yourself to try. My wife and I never could quite convince ourselves to try the wonderful fish heads that a Jamaican friend of mine years ago wanted us to try.  Sometimes I wish I had at least tried it.

The bottom line is that no one is asking you to become something that you’re not, just to try harder to understand the perspective, the feelings and the needs of something that you’re not. You might just find value from that effort and perhaps even add a few new things to your experiences and knowledge base. You will almost certainly have become a better person for having overcome the knee-jerk reaction (emphasis on the “jerk” part) to discriminate against that person. You may eventually get to the point where your viewfacing new day of diversity starts with the perspective that we are all humans just trying to make it through life the best way that we can. While some travel paths that are more difficult than others, we all end up at the end of the line in the same place.

Have a great and diverse day.


Remember; but, you can’t live in the past…

March 31, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Some days I wish I could go back in life, not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice.”  (Unknown).  Jack went on to say – “Thank God today for a mind that allows us to feel some things…twice.”  😉  Jack

In an earlier post, Jack had quoted Charlie Brown from a Peanuts cartoon that he remembered – “There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.” 

 Often when someone is gone you hear people say (and I have said this to others myself) that, “They will live forever in your memories of them”.

 Quite often I’ll stumble upon a picture that I’ve used in a post here of someone who is now gone. Often those may have been people that I had no relationship with, but just remember seeing on television sometime in my past. Many are people who were long forgotten TV or boredmovie stars whose brief term of fame and glory happened well before most people living today were even born. Every day I’m reminded by pictures in my house of the key people who were in my life and who have passed away – parents and relatives. It is easy to pause and let a fond memory flood into my mind and that’s a good thing, but not something that I dwell on for too long. I take to heart a quote by Ken Kesey – “Loved. You can’t use it in the past tense. Death does not stop that love at all.” That is certainly true of those we have loved and continue to love who were a part of our lives.

Some have more trouble that others letting go of the past and that can negatively impact their lives in the present.  Jan Glidewell put it this way – “‎You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” Many people who lose their life partner end up in that state, still clinging so tightly to their memories of a life together with that loved-one that they now cannot live a full life in the present. Others cherish the memories of their departed partner and go on to fulfilling lives, sometimes with new partners.

I like the very descriptive way that Jason Versey describes the state that one can get into when dog chasing tailthey cannot let go of the past – “Chasing your tale? Sometimes we relive past accomplishments, failures and or past relationships to the point of exhaustion. When we do this, I liken it to a dog chasing its tail, just spinning round and round and going nowhere fast. Constantly chasing our own tales has the same effect on us. It leaves us in a state of dizzying immobility. When we wrap our arms so firmly around our past we leave little room to embrace our present future and that, my friends, is a sad tale to tell.”

 So, we must let go of the past and get on with life. We may fondly (or maybe regretfully) revisit the past from time to time, but we cannot let it push aside the present or dictate the future.  In the words of Michelle Cruz-Rosado – “Letting yesterday affect today will only destroy the excitement of tomorrow.”

Sad or angry or regretful memories of events of our past can be especially debilitating, if you let them consume you. It is better to head the advice of Mandy Hale – “To get over the past, you first have to accept that the past is over. No matter how many times you revisit it, analyze it, regret it, or sweat it…it’s over. It can hurt you no more.” It’s not the past that crying-4hurts you, it’s the constant reliving of things that you cannot change and the tendency that we have as humans to beat ourselves up over those events or the decisions that we made at the time. It’s over! Learn from those mistakes and then let them go.

So, maybe the best way to deal with the past is to separate your memories into those that are fond and involve people or events that you love or that cause you to be happy when recalled; and, keep those that cause sadness or conjure up memories that are painful in a separate place, one that you seldom, if ever, have reason to visit.  You often hear the phrase “I’m going to my happy place”; well, maybe that is the place where you store all of those happy placehappy memories of people that you still love and who loved you and those events that brought you joy.

You can’t change the past, but you can control how and what you choose to remember about it. Choose to go to your happy place when you are revisiting your past. Have a great weekend and, if you must revisit the past, at least go to that happy place that is full of happy memories.