Get going in a different direction…

November 15, 2017

Thaccess deniedis little quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog got me to thinking about the rejections in my life and how that changed my direction.

“Sometimes rejection in life is really redirection.”  (Tavis Smiley)

Rejections in life can come in many forms. We tend to remember the bigger moments of rejection, like being turned down for a date or being passed over for a promotion; however, life is full of little moments in which something that we want to do is somehow rejected or, at least that path is blocked and we must go in a different direction.

 

 

How we react to rejections in life and what we choose to do in the new direction says a bored2lot about us. Some don’t deal with rejection very well and may slip into anger or depression every time things don’t go the way that they and planned and hoped. Some are so flighty that rejections are quickly forgotten and they flit off in a new direction, seemingly oblivious to the rejection. Do you know people who react to rejection in those ways?

For most of us rejection is just a temporary bump in life. They may stop us for a moment, as we internalize what just happened, but we go on. What few of us take the time to do is to think about that rejection as a redirection in our lives. I wonder what would happen if woman-prayingwe paused and thought to ourselves, “OK, God didn’t want that to happen to me or for me; I wonder what direction He wants to take me in now?”

By taking that moment to attribute the rejection/redirection in your life to God’s will, you remove the need to seek an answer to the question of why that just happened. You also excuse yourself of the need to find blame in yourself or others. It was God’s will, not your will or actions that brought about the rejection, so use it as a redirection and seek His will in which way to go next. Maybe start off with a little prayer like, “God I know that you have something else in mind for me; please help me see the path that you wish for me to take.” Do that, knowing that God has only the best outcome in mind for you; and you will joyfully start off in your new direction.

Dealing with rejections as redirections from God in your life will allow you to keep a positive attitude towards life, no matter how and many or what types of rejections you hit. Sometimes God may throw a rejection at you to help re-ground you on the important things in life, like family vs. possessions. A rejection may force you to realize that you had begun to value the wrong things and to pursue the wrong things. Sometimes that rejection is a wake-up call that says that you have become too complaisant and too expectant of success; that you have become full of yourself and God needed to take you down a peg and remind you of who is in charge.

man prayingMaybe you can start each day with a variation of that little prayer that I suggested earlier. “God, I don’t know what you have in mind for me today, but help me accept the things that happen and see the new directions that you have laid out for me; trusting in You and your love for me, through your Son, Jesus Christ.”

Then get out there and get going in those new directions.

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Creative Destruction…a part of life

November 8, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this gem of understanding from an unlikely source –

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”  (Marilyn Monroe)

In the world around us there is a process called Creative Destruction, which is defined as the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”. Sometimes the changes take place quickly and sometimes it is what seems like slow motion. A prime example that we can all relate to is the Creative Destruction that took place in the retail world when Sam Walton started Walmart. At the time Walmart was created the big names in so-called big box” retail were Sears, Montgomery Wards, K-Mart and Penney’s. Today it is Walmart, Target and Kohl’s. The old gave way to the new sears store closing(although Penny’s has held on longer than the others). These days stores like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Kohls are fighting to remain relevant in the on-line world of Amazon, Ebay, ETSY and Wayfair. Things continue to evolve and Creative Destruction continues to change our landscape.

I suspect that Marilyn’s little quote may have had a more personal meaning, since she had a few marriages fall apart and she moved on to new men in her life. That seems to happen all too frequently in marriages these days. One of the reasons that companies fail, especially retail companies, is that they don’t evolve as the world around them changes. Tastes change. Fads come and go. New generations have different desires in cloths and other things. The retailers who can keep a sense of those changing tastes survives, while others fail.

couple-looking-at-phonesPersonal relationships also evolve and change over time and it is the couples that can’t seem to keep up with those changes that end up in divorce. Many marriages are based almost solely on the relatively narrow base of physical and sexual attraction. Once that ardor cools a bit, if there is no underlying foundation of friendship and common interests, the “love” that was professed cools and creative destruction can take over. Cheating in a marriage is a form of Creative Destruction.

For some couples Creative Destruction in their marriage starts when the first child of the marriage is born and the man discovers that he is no longer alone at the center of his wife’s universe. The passion that once obscured all else may cool and faults that went unnoticed or overlooked before may bubble to the surface and become issues of contention or conflict. It is harder for that to happen, or at least for it to have destructive consequences, if one can also say that they truly like the person with whom they live. How many times have you heard, “the sex was good, but I couldn’t stand to live with him/her”?

What can be done to ensure that a marriage doesn’t end up on the dust heap of Creative soulmate1Destruction? I think it takes a mindset that realizes that a marriage is something that will evolve and must be constantly invested in to keep it relevant and growing. The birth of children must be viewed as a new opportunity to share new things together and not as a threat to the relationship. The sharing of responsibilities and work in a marriage must be viewed and an investment in the relationship and not as a burden to be borne.

The continued development and strengthening of the friendship aspect of the marriage must become more and more important as the sexual relationship runs its course over time. Viagra is not the answer. Working upon your friendship with your spouse will insure the longevity of the marriage. Sharing common interests. Doing things together. Sharing the parenting load and the household chores. Showing love to one another, in ways other than sex, all become more important over time. Things need not fall apart in

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“Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

your marriage, in order for things to get better. However, things will change and you need a more solid base than just the sex that was there upon which to base your future together.

You can look at the changes that have occurred in your lifetime and come to the conclusion, “Yes, things changed, but I’m still here.” Those in a good marriage will say, “Yes, things changed but we’re still here, still together.” Jobs come and go, along with the people who were there. Old friendships from school or sports or other things in life may come and go. In the end, when you look back on the pictures of your life (real or in your memories) the one constant is that person standing next to you in most of them – your spouse. Remember that and work on that relationship as it evolves over time. What you’ll achieve is not Creative Destruction; but, rather, Creative Growth of your marriage.

Have a great rest of your week. Kiss your spouse and say “I love you” at least once every day and think a reason that it is true when you say it.


Every story is unique and really does matter…

November 2, 2017

Two quotes from recent posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to go together –

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.”  (Margaret Mead)

-and-

“Everyone has a story.  Every story matters.”  (Nicole Wedemeyer Miller)

If everyone is unique and has a story, then it follows that every story is unique. That is one of the values that we all gain from diversity in our society; and, that matters. That we don’t take time to listen to every story or to try to understand the unique perspective from which they come is our loss.

The knee-jerk reaction from #POTUS to the recent terrorist act in New York was to state that he would try to end the Diversity Visa Program that was put in place a few years back by the Obama administration to encourage diversity in migration to the U.S. fromexclusion underrepresented countries around the world. What a shame it would be to limit our experience of the different contributions to our society that could come out of that program.

The term diversity is a broad umbrella which embraces differences in ethnicity, life style, sexual preference, gender and many other things that can go into making each individual unique. To wall off any one of those things and prevent people who possess that characteristic from interacting with our society would be a loss. That loss comes out of the denial to experience and react to those differences. It is the same as saying that we will only allow certain kinds of distorted viewmusic to be played or certain types of art to be displayed. We become the poorer by restrictions limiting or censoring our experiences. In many countries experiencing the truth is limited by government censorship and in some, such as North Korea, reality itself gets distorted.

So, the take-away is that we should embrace diversity in our society and try to learn from the differences that we encounter in the unique people that we meet. We need to substitute wonder and understanding for the fear and loathing that too often drive us away from those who are “different.” We need to approach our interactions with those who are different from us with the goal of learning and understanding, rather than avoiding, judging or condemning.no judgement

It may well be that you will find the point of view of someone else to be something that you cannot understand and certainly don’t accept; but, at least, you will then better understand why and how they may act about things. Understanding the other person’s point of view will help you choose the best way to react to them. Perhaps, just by trying to understand them better, you will engage in a dialogue that slightly changes both of you and brings you both closer to some common ground.

It is important when engaging with others who have very different points of view to keep in mind another saying that was posted to Jack’s blog recently –

“I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.”  (Sent by Don Sunshine)

The opposite is also true; that the other person doesn’t have to be wrong, either. It is the tendency to stand on the supposedly high moral ground of saying “I’m right and you’re wrong” that continues to cause many of the problems that we have in our society today. diversityYes, black lives matter; and yes, all lives matter. So where is the real conflict there? Which side is excluding the other? I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.

So, let us as a nation continue to welcome unique people and their stories. Let us try to learn from them. Let us find ways to integrate the value that they bring with them to our common good. We are the richer as a nation because we have always welcomed the poor of the world. I can’t wait to hear the next story.


Are you sitting or standing?

October 31, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “It’s easy to sit up and take notice.  What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”  (Honore de Balzac)

Last week Detroit hosted a bunch of women who have decided to stand up and take action. This Women’s Convention in Detroit grew out of the Women’s March on andrew-robles-295224Washington, which was itself a protest against what many women felt was a more than just a macho attitude in Washington about women or just boys and men behaving badly. The movement grew out of the decision of one woman to stand up and take action, rather than just sit watching the TV and lamenting the news in Washington D.C. as it unfolded.

The fact is that we are all confronted on a daily basis with many things that we need to evaluate our reactions to and take the appropriate actions. We see bullying and walk bully.pnghurriedly on by; we see acts driven by racism or homophobia and look away in hopes that now one saw us; we pass by the beggar and avoid eye contact; we make it a point to avoid the person who just ended a relationship because we really don’t want to hear about it; we don’t go to visit the sick person in the hospital because we just don’t have the time to waste; we don’t correct the person making inappropriate remarks or touching us inappropriately because we just want to “get along”.

The fact is that we all sit by and take notice of many things that we should be standing up and doing something about. I do. You do. We all do. Does that make it right? No! The coulda woulda shouldaexcuses are all the same. “I don’t want to get involved”.” “It’s not my problem.” “I don’t have time for that.” I would posit that as a fellow human being you are already involved, it is your problem as soon as you recognize it and there is nothing more important that you could spend your time on that helping a fellow human being. In Mark 12:31 Jesus told us that the second Great Commandment is, “Love your neighbor and you love yourself.” You cannot love your neighbor if you ignore him and his problems.

Now, obviously, you cannot spend all of your time seeking out and solving the problems of those around you. That is not what is meant by “getting up and taking action”; however, you can decide to stop avoiding or ignoring what is going on around you. Just like the women who have use the hashtag #MeToo, you can decide to start speaking up about the injustices or prejudices that you experience or see in your day to day life. You may get thrown off a plane, like the women on the News recently who complained about being racially targeted for reassignment of a seat on the plane. You may be passed overstart-with-me for some promotion or reward because you won’t “play ball” with your boss; however, in the long run right will win out.  Being in the right and deciding to stay on that side and take action, not only means never having to say you’re sorry; in many cases, (especially those involving high profile lawyers) being right and standing up and doing something about it is rewarding in more ways than just emotionally.

So, take stock at the end of the day and look back on the things that were wrong that you took notice of. Did you stand up or sit by passively and hope that they would quickly pass? How does that make you feel? What can you do differently tomorrow? Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t just sit up; stand up for what you know is right. Stand up and have a great week.


Withhold consent…

October 27, 2017

From my little list quotes comes this thought for the day –

“Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

To which I would respond, withhold consent. Do not give others the power to controlarrogant your life, your emotions, your actions or reactions. Withhold consent. Take charge of your life and decide that you, and only you, will determine how you feel about yourself and about life.

I’ve posted here many times about the need to love yourself before you can love others (see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2017/03/15/first-of-all-be-happy-with-yourself/ ). A strong belief in yourself and comfort with yourself is the base upon which you can begin to build relationships with others. You will not get positive results if you enter into a relationship with the thought that, “I don’t like me, so you probably won’t like me either.” That will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. As Jack Freed posted in his Jack’s Winning Words blog recently –  “If you keep saying that things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.”  (Isaac Singer) Don’t become a prophet about yourself. Withhold consent.

It is not about bragging or being cocky; it about being self-assured and self-confident, this-is-mebecause you like yourself. It brings with it a radiance in your personality that makes women look more beautiful and men look more handsome. If you can get to that state of liking yourself and feeling comfortable with who and what you are, you will notice that what others may think of you, or say about you, takes on much less meaning. What they think or say cannot make you feel inferior because you withhold consent.

And when you encounter those who would try to drag you down to their level by being judgmental, petty, or just plain nasty; just ignore them. I’ve noticed in life that nothingthumbs down makes those people more frustrated than your refusal to rise to the bait that they are using to try to lure you into self-doubt or worse. It is for some a nasty game and for others a way to try to bring others down to their level of misery and self-loathing. Withhold consent.

Perhaps one way to reinforce your positive feelings about yourself is to start each day with a little prayer asking God to be with you throughout the day. If you believe that He man prayingis with you; then, when you encounter someone who is trying to make you feel inferior, you can quickly bring up this thought from Romans 8:31 – “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Indeed. With God in your corner, it’s relatively easy to withhold consent.

Have a great, self-assured and empowered day.


You decide what kind of day to have…

October 25, 2017

From a list of quotes that I keep on hand came a really meaningful one from Stephen Covey – “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

I’m sure that we all know someone, (perhaps it’s you) who is always lamenting their bad luck and complaining how life seems out to get them. They blame their state in life on the circumstances that have befallen them. Perhaps you also know someone who is athis-is-me Pollyanna-type who always finds a way to make lemonade out of the lemons that come their way. Which are you? Which would you rather be?  The one has decided to be unhappy with life and the other will not let life ruin their happiness. You decide what kind of day you will have.

Let’s face it; stuff happens. Life does not always go as we had planned or hoped. failuresSometimes we just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and something bad happens. Sometimes we actually make the bad decision to be at that place. Whichever it is, you are then faced with more decisions about how to react to things that are happening or that just happened. Perhaps another quote sums up your situation best: “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” —Charles Swindoll. Since your day is made up of events that you will react to; you decide what kind of day you will have.

I’ve posted her before about reacting to things and problem solving, so I won’t rehash those bits of advice. I think the main thing to focus upon is recognizing that you are reacting to things that are happening around you or to you and that you’re making decisionsdecisions about what to do next, instead of letting some knee-jerk reaction control your future. By being conscious of your situation, you can choose to react in a positive way, rather than a negative way. You can choose to move forward with your life in a positive way, rather than shrinking back or retreating into depression. You can be in control; not of the situation, but of your reaction to it. You decide what kind of day you will have.

In my post – Life is lived somewhere in between – I mentioned a little prayer that I use almost daily to put myself in the right frame of mind for the day – “God help me make good decisions today.” Keeping that little prayer in mind forces me to acknowledge that, right-and-wrongwhile I may not be in control of the things that are happening, I am in control of the decisions that I make in reaction to what is happening. Realizing that causes me to take a little pause and ask myself, “What is the right thing to do?” Just that little pause and that thought will allow you to see what God is telling you to do and you will make better decisions. You decide what kind of day you will have.

Maybe you forgot to say that little prayer this morning and life has already thrown you a curve ball. Maybe your initial reaction to that situation was a knee-jerk response thatwoman-praying took you off in a bad direction. It’s never too late to turn back to God and say “A little help here”. Maybe you need to ask for God to help you recover from a bad decision. God will always be there for you and it’s never too late to ask Him for help. It’s as simple as this little prayer – “Not my will but thy will be done.” You decide what kind of day you will have.

Have a great day! It’s your call.


Question it before you act upon it…

October 16, 2017

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this little piece of advice – “It’s a healthy thing to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”  (Bertrand Russell)

We all have things in our lives that we take for granted, that we have long believed to beworries true; sometimes with no actual basis in facts. Most prejudices are based on things that we hold to be true with no actual facts to back them up. They are based upon unfounded hate or fear of something or someone. All of our fears, uncertainties and doubts are also baseless in facts and mostly founded in our own imaginations.

Even your faith practices may be based upon some things that you’ve long taken for granted without ever questioning why you do some things in certain ways. Asking yourself those questions is not really questioning your belief in God; but, rather, questioning the practices that have been implemented by men. Martin Luther questioned the practices of the Catholic Church hierarchy in his day, martin-lutherbut he was not questioning his faith, just the practices of the men who were the religious leaders of the Catholic Church at the time.

Faith, like patriotism, has never been based upon blind acceptance of whatever direction the leaders of the church (or the country) were taking at the time. Questioning the rules that are promulgated by those leaders does not make one a heretic or any less the patriot, if they are remaining loyal to the principals upon which the institution was based – the Bible or the Constitution, depending upon which one is being discussed.

Children have a natural tendency to question things; to ask why something is the way it is. Often they may run up against the answer from an adult that sounds like this, “that’s just the way it is” or maybe “because I said so.” Some of those things they just file away as things that they take for granted, without further questioning. Some of those things become the prejudices that they carry around with them in adult life. As adults, we all carry some amount of that type of baggage; things that’s we’ve just accepted or stoppedmystery head questioning long ago and taken for granted.

All of those things that we take for granted should set off little warning bells in the back of our minds and force us to question why we believe them to be true. What proof have we ever had for disliking (sometimes even hating) or fearing certain groups of people, people who are somehow different from us? Absent any proof, what sustains those beliefs? Is it just the laziness of mental momentum that keeps those fears or that hate in our minds?  Why not question those beliefs and seek the truth? Why not, as Jack’s quote today suggests, hang a question mark on every fear and prejudice that you carry around? You really have nothing to lose and perhaps quite a bit to gain in terms of new experiences and new friendships.

In your faith, God is the answer, not the question. It is fair to question the practices that men have tried to build to govern the practice of faith. All religions have created structure and rules to try to guide and control the practice of the religion by the believers.  Some have even created elaborate set of rules for day-to-day living and try to control all aspects of one’s life. Some have perverted the teachings that are the basis of the Bible in order to support their personal views of morality. None of that comes from woman-prayingGod, just from the minds of men. At its most elemental level, your faith is your personal relationship with God. All of the rest of the trappings of the various religions are the works of men. So question those trappings if they don’t seem right to you; but, not your relationship with God.

In Isaiah 41:10 God said – “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Having God and the teachings of Jesus at your moral core will give you the light up to which you should hold every other thing in your life that you “believe”. Prejudices melt away when held up to that light. Hate fades into the background when that light is shined upon it. Fears cannot withstand the light of belief in God and his care for us. Evil slinks back into the darkness from which it came when God’s light shines in your life. Uncertainty is replaced with self-confidence when God’s light shines through you.

So, question everything else in life, but hold fast to God as the center of your life and the rest will take care of itself.