Great things are possible in October, too.

May 16, 2017

As seen in a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “All things seem possible in May.”  (Edwin Way Teale)

Whether Teale had this in mind or not (I suspect that that he did), the metaphor for life in that saying says that all things seem possible as you look at life from the front end of it – in May, so to speak. Too many people get to September or October on life’s calendar and seem to give up on most things that they may have had as dream on the front end. There are probably a few things that one must let go of as  we age, but I was encouraged by George H. W. Bush jumping out of and airplane when he was 90 years old. He didn’t let go of that dream.

There are obvious physical limitations that age imposes on all of us, some more so that others; however, I suspect that many restrictions on our activities are more self-imposed zip linethan forced upon us. Sometimes we become overly cautious, because we let the fear of what could happen prevent us from even trying new things or things that we have dreamed about doing. One can only hope that our base of wisdom, that we’ve built up over a lifetime, serves to protect us by giving us a better ability to plan to avoid the risks involved, rather than to let them stop us.  That’s why I like that recent ad with the older guy going down the zip line, having taken the necessary precautions to make sure that he doesn’t fall out, rather than not doing it at all based upon fear or the trepidation of others.

Certain things in life take on a different meaning, and sometimes a deeper meaning,

ID-1009082

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

inthe Autumn of one’s life than they had in the Spring. Love and marriage are two that come to mind immediately. As we age, the heat of youthful passion in a loving relationship may give way to the warm and mature glow of friendship and contentment and the attraction for a spouse may mature from the physical to a deeper level of commitment, understanding and sharing.

The Fall and Winter of one’s life need not be lonely or boring times of inactivity, just based upon the physical constraints imposed by age or infirmities.  While there will be things that one is physically no longer able to do, there are so many other things that require more mental than physical ability that one should never become bored or inactive. Every community has tons of volunteer opportunities, so there are always ways to serve others, while staying active yourself and giving you opportunities to meet other people.

So, as you wind down the career that you embarked upon in May of your life, find ways to shift your time and energy into other things that will be rewarding and keep you busy. One can only play so much golf every week or whatever you initially had in mind for your retirement. Travels can provide some entertainment and may even be educational; but even that can get old rather fast. The unfulfilled urge that you may keep feeling is caregiverreally a call to continue to feel useful and needed. You can find fulfillment for that urge by serving others and giving back to your community. You may well find that the simple “Thank you” that you’ll get from the elderly shut in that you just delivered a meal to feels more rewarding that all of the plaques and awards that you may have garnered over the business career that you had.

So, turn the page on your life calendar and look forward into the Fall and Winter of your life in anticipation of all of the great opportunities that still lie ahead for you. You still have two of the three seasons of life ahead of you and there’s no reason not to enjoy them and get as much out of them as you did in the first two. If nothing else, take to heart this little saying by Hans Christian Andersen – “Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead.”

Maybe you should wake up each morning, thank God for another day, and get busy being helpful by serving others. You may find that you are living by the philosophy, “I don’t have time to be dead, there’s too much still to do.”

Have a great Fall and Winter. Great things are still possible.

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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.


Experience the joy of service.

February 25, 2014

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” ― Kahlil Gibran

I like that little saying. This is the time of the year when churches observe Lent, the precursor to Easter. During Lent our church, like many others, holds a soup supper. We do a round-robin exchange of soup suppers with several other churches in the area.

For the last few years (I can’t even recall how many now) I volunteer to be what is washing dishesessentially the busboy during our church’s turn to host the soup supper. I originally did that because no one else wanted that job. I quickly discovered a great sense of fulfillment and joy out of taking that little role of service to others and have volunteered for that role ever since.

For me and for many people whom I have met over time, there is real joy to be found in serving others. There is an even greater sense of satisfaction to be found in taking on roles of service that no one else wants to do. Usually those are the jobs in the background in which the people toil away and never get any recognition for their efforts. They don’t do it for recognition; they do it because it must be done and someone must do it. Why not them?

There is another saying that I’ve struggled with how to use in a blog post, this one by George Bernard Shaw – Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness. I guess that I disagree with Shaw on one point; doing what must be done, especially in service to others can also be happiness.

helping elderlyThere are a great many of these little, unheralded or behind the scenes jobs out there just looking for someone to do them. It could be visiting with a shut-in or someone in a nursing home with no family nearby. It could be serving meals at a homeless shelter. It could be offering to shovel off the walk and drive for an elderly neighbor. Maybe it’s standing out in the cold with a bucket and collecting for a charity. Maybe it’s picking up the morning paper from the drive an placing it on the door step of an elder neighbor. One program locally that can always use volunteer help is the Huron Valley Youth Assistance Program, which provides counseling and mentoring to at risk youth in the community. See my earlier post on that program.

Not every job is the one that the newspaper prints a picture of or that makes the evening tutoringTV news. For every one of those there are a hundred jobs in the background that must also be done. Look around and find those little jobs, especially the ones that no one else wants to do; and take them on. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel about it and it will put a smile on your face that others will see and respond to with a smile back.

This saying by Mahatma Gandhi – “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”  – points to a side benefit of serving others. You may well find yourself in the process, find out what you are made of and find purpose in your life. Many people go through life with much material success – money, homes, cars, etc. – and yet live with a nagging sense of emptiness a lack of the sense of fulfillment. Committing yourself to acts of service to others, without any expectation of reward or remuneration, can go a long way towards filling that void.

Finally, I found this quote, which I thought is an appropriate way to sum this up – “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  ―  Martin Luther King Jr.