042: Mauricio in Cuba May29

042: Mauricio in Cuba...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/42-Mauricio_in_Cuba.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 35:49 — 12.3MB)During a recent trip to Cuba, I recorded this interview with Mauricio, a young man who wants to be a positive influence in the future of his nation. As a graphic designer, Mauricio and other volunteers produce a small magazine for young people. He also helps develop young people in other ways by introducing them to critical thinking and resources that help them connect to ideas and healthy ways of living. Be inspired by Mauricio’s life and hear some fascinating inside knowledge of life inside Cuba during this historic time. Thank you for your patience as the audio quality on this one is not up to our standards. Like everyone who lives in Cuba, we had to be creative and make due with what we...

Examining Relationships...

With whom do I have the closest relationships? What connections are those relationships based on? How can I re-evaluate the depth of particular relationships to know where to put my energies? These are some of the questions I asked myself while sitting in on a course called, Your CrossRoads. Working with a non-profit for much of my career, I had considered literally hundreds of people to be friends. A belief is that the mission is held together by relationships and shared ethos. Consequently, I had almost no mental map to differentiate various relationships. However, when I left the group, it became more obvious who were my friends and who were relationships of convenience. True friends follow you in life; friendships of convenience or circumstance fade away. Now a couple of years out, I find myself thinking about my relationships and considering the differences between friends, acquaintances and colleagues. There are differences. In her CrossRoads course, creator Victoria Jeffs challenges participants to identify the foundations important to healthy relationships. The model helped me identify how I relate to various people in my life. The foundational pillars are touch points we have in common with others. Upon examination, I found that my closest friendships are with those people I share several touch points. They are: Intellect Emotion Social Spiritual Financial Physical Cultural Some people are in our lives due to circumstances. These include family members, work colleagues, and others we know through various groups in which we participate. The close relationships in our lives are those we have invited in. Like me, you can use the seven pillars to examine your closest relationships. This simple exercise can help you identify what aspects of those relationships are healthy and also what are unhealthy. Healthy relationships are life-giving....

Legacy

What will you leave behind? That was the focus of a discussion led by my good friend Jack Woloshun. We were there to talk about the many crossroads in life and the people with whom we share the journey. Have you thought about what you would like to leave behind? What will remain once your flesh and bones no longer walk this earth? How will you be remembered? To demonstrate what’s possible, Jack pulled out a book his daughter assembled for his 60th birthday. She had contacted the many family and friends from Jack’s life and invited them to express their sentiments. The words were anything but shallow, very unlike canned drugstore greeting cards. Rather they were lengthy letters of affection, memories and hope for the future. Jack only read 3 or 4 letters from the book, but what he shared demonstrated what it means to leave a legacy. Jack has spent his life giving to others; he has chosen to be a giver instead of a taker. The letters reflect a lifetime of memories, influence and impact. I think that is what it’s all about. Legacy is something you may or may not have thought of; I think the answer is likely dependent on your age and to what extent you consider your life in the grand scheme of humankind. Legacy is not about leaving a hospital or street with your name stamped on. It’s not about things you did that elevated your ego. It’s not about how many toys you collected. It’s not even about how much money you left to charities or your kids. Legacy is fundamentally about who you are. Your legacy is a replica of how you live your life every day. What would happen if people were asked...

Make a Difference

Do you long to make a difference but find it harder than it seems? Here’s a lovely guest article by Amy Roemer that may convince you it’s easier than you think: On a recent cross-country trip, my family stopped in the tiny village of Folsom in northern New Mexico. The ranching community only has 55 inhabitants and almost no businesses, a shadow of what it used to be. Once it had the largest stockyards north of Fort Worth, Texas, but the town never recovered after a devastating catastrophe. It’s such a small place that when we arrived, we had to call a number to get the museum unlocked. The docent came and was so proud of the museum’s legacy that she eagerly shared local stories. We expected the museum to be about the primitive Folsom people, one of the earliest people groups in North America, but we were in for a surprise! We saw many antiques—from milk jugs and saddles to a dynamite detonator—from the founding and pioneer days in the late 1800s. Many of these were tagged with information—whose house it came from, and which family member had donated it. The sense of community was strong. But what struck us was learning about Sally Rooke—who was the local telephone switchboard operator—and how she made a difference during the Dry Cimarron River flood of 1908. Miss Sally received a call that a massive wall of water was heading down the canyon toward Folsom. She started calling friends and neighbors, warning them to head for higher ground. Eventually, the flood hit and wiped out the town. Sally was washed away from her post at the switchboard; her body was found some 12 miles down river along with livestock and only 16 others. Her phone calls...

All That Jazz

April is jazz appreciation month, which the Smithsonian (a U.S. National Museum) calls both a historic and living American art form. Since jazz is the most free and flexible of all musical genres, this seems like a good time to examine those characteristics in our lives. Acclaimed trumpet musician, Herbie Hancock said, “The spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness.” I think that’s what many people find so fascinating about the musical form. It is by nature, open. It’s open to ideas, changes, improvisation, expression, collaboration, and creativity. I find it interesting that in playing jazz, a musician can be both part of something, yet unique at the same time. There is the whole, but there is the distinctiveness of individuals. But some people don’t like freethinking, creative expression, or new ideas. No wonder jazz was outlawed in various times and places like Nazi Germany. The Soviets didn’t outlaw it, but they openly criticized it. Even in the U.S., at least 60 communities banned jazz from being played in public dance halls in the 1920s. One has to ask what people were afraid of! Which begs the question, what you YOU afraid of? Like much great art, jazz came out of tremendous suffering. It is the product of slavery, oppression, and struggle. Sounds like the great themes of life, doesn’t it? Sometimes we are tempted to let the hard knocks of life close us down and make us hard. But if we let tough times change us, we can actually become more open, honest and trusting, and graduate to a new level of personal maturity. If musicians had been satisfied to maintain the status quo, we would never have experienced jazz. Rather, many transformed their pain and struggle into life, beauty, and openness; they continue...

041: Changing Your Mindset Apr15

041: Changing Your Mindset...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/41-Changing_Your_Mindset.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 32:19 — 29.6MB)A lovely chat about relationships, theology, the universe, kids, mistakes, regrets, struggles, personal worth, turning a life around, finding positivity and purpose.  Laura Thompson is a wife, mother, and owner of small businesses. Mostly she’s a happy, peaceful, articulate, fun and normal person who thinks about what is real and good and is trying to live life to the best she can. Laura’s essential oils website: http://www.iomaioilers.com A short video on Denmark, named the happiest place on earth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_jo69ZTwbE  ...

Tea & Consent

Leave it to the Brits to come up with a clever message about sexual consent. Here is a little video used by British police to explain safe sexual boundaries using a most British staple,...

Know Thyself

How well do you know yourself? We tend to have a view of ourselves we think is accurate and complete. However, it’s just not true.

Fear or Love?

Every now and then you stumble upon a life-defining truth that is simple yet profound. I found such a concept in Neale Donald Walsch’s book, Conversations with God. I hope you too find it helpful in sorting out your motivations and actions. “Every action taken by human beings is based in love or fear, not simply those dealing with relationships. Decisions affecting business, industry, politics, religion, the education of your young, the social agenda of your nations, the economic goals of your society, choices involving war, peace, attack, defense, aggression, submission; determinations to covet or give away, to save or to share, to unite or to divide—every single free choice you ever undertake arises out of one of the only two possible thoughts there are: a thought of love or a thought of fear. Fear is the energy which contracts, closes down, draws in, runs, hides, hoards, harms. Love is the energy which expands, opens up, sends out, stays, reveals, shares, heals. Fear wraps our bodies in clothing, love allows us to stand naked. Fear clings to and clutches all that we have, love gives all that we have away. Fear holds close, love holds dear. Fear grasps, love lets go. Fear rankles, love soothes. Fear attacks, love amends. Every human thought, word, deed is based in one emotion or the other. You have no choice about this, because there is nothing else from which to choose. But you have free choice about which of these to select.” So I ask along with the great wisdom of the universe. Will you think and act from a place of fear or love? Walsch, N.D. (1995). Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue. New York:...

Do It Anyway

Today I share from the wisdom of Mother Theresa: “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa   Royalty-free image by Amy Burton; retrieved from...

How are you doing?

2016 is now officially ¼ over. That’s right; we just passed the 3-month milestone. So I figure it’s a good time to think about the goals I set for myself this year. I set four. Looking at my list, I can measure my progress. I realize I made progress on two and didn’t do so well on two. What is my response? Well beating myself up won’t do any good. Do I need to adjust some actual goals or do I need to alter my approach? I challenge to you ask yourself: Which goals have you achieved? Tell somebody of your accomplishments! Pat yourself on the back. Which goals are still in process? Are you making progress on them? Which goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps your goals weren’t SMART enough. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Is it possible you’re not focusing on the right areas for now? (Click on Rate Your Life to see if you’re putting energy into the parts of your life that need the most attention now.) Success is not just about accomplishing all your goals, but also seeing where you need to adjust, setting new goals, or tweaking your approach.  Don’t beat yourself up for your failures. Rather focus on your accomplishments and make adjustments to continue moving forward. It’s not too late. After all, you still have ¾ of the year...

What is Easter, really?

According to The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Hirsch, Kett & Trefil, 1988), Easter is a holiday that every American needs to know about. Easter is a social construct, too.  That’s right; it is a made-up holiday celebrated differently by diverse people around the world. It’s considered a most holy day, along with Christmas, for Christ-followers, but people make up how they choose to celebrate it. When I first read Berger and Luckmann’s landmark social science book, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, I had a hard time accepting that much of our reality is socially constructed. I am a huge proponent of free will. But as time went on, I realized the theory holds much truth. How we live life—largely what we believe and why we believe it—is passed on to us culturally. That’s right, we make stuff up! We make up our culture, values, customs, ways of life, language, and to a large extent, our thought patterns. For the most part, we accept what we grew up with. We live life through social constructs I contend that the social construction of reality is not a bad thing, and does not make the reality behind a celebration or practice any less true. Easter is not just a holy day, it is a holy season. Coinciding with spring in the northern hemisphere, (where most of our Easter traditions came from), it follows a 40-day period called Lent, which since ancient times has been set aside as a season of penance and reflection, where believers are encouraged to make sacrifices and engage in acts of goodness. In this way, Christians are prepared to remember the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ who was both God and man in one being. Lent culminates in Holy Week, which starts with Palm Sunday (remembering Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem), then continues with Maundy Thursday (remembering the Passover supper Jesus had with his disciples and his washing of their feet), and Good Friday (remembering when Christ was executed), and finally celebrating Easter, when Christ rose from the dead. Lenten and Easter practices seem to be very ancient. In his “History of Lent” (2002), Fr. Saunders cited a letter to the Pope written in A.D. 203 commenting on the differences between how Easter was celebrated in the East and West: “The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their ‘day’ last 40 hours on end. Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers.” Many Christian customs were either borrowed from other religions or simply made up. The use of incense, visual depictions (crosses, crucifixes, icons, painting, sculptures), church architecture and many other things were used to help people connect to God. As someone pointed out, the use of “bells” and “smells” helped illiterate congregants throughout history connect with a God who isn’t tangible. Like the rest of the church calendar, dates were set aside to remind Christ-followers of many of the important aspects of the New Testament, which chronicles the life of Jesus and the beginnings of the early church. Other “holy days,” which we have come to call “holidays,” include Advent and Christmas (leading up to and celebrating the birth of Christ), Epiphany (celebrating the incarnation of Christ and the visit by the Magi), and Pentecost (remembering the outpouring of God’s spirit on early believers shortly after Christ’s return to God the Father). A basic tenant of Christianity is that God is made up of three distinct persons, designated Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. These three do not exist or operate in an authoritarian structure, but by relationship and communication. Unlike Christmas,...

What Does It Mean?

These few days are undoubtedly the most important in the Christian calendar; they are centerpieces of the faith. But there is no one-way to view the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. That said, I think it’s important to think about. I contend that how you view Jesus’ death and resurrection reflects on your view of God and how you related to the Divine. In his book, Across the Spectrum: Understanding issues in Evangelical Theology, Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy devote an entire chapter on “The Atonement Debate.” There they outline the three main perspectives: The Christus Victor View (Christ destroyed Satan and his works) The Penal Substitution View (Christ dies in our place) The Moral Government View (Christ displayed God’s wrath against sin) Here, in a nutshell, is an overview of these perspectives. Then I will make a case for something more simplistic that may work even better for you. According to Boyd and Eddy, the Christus Victor view was the most popular until the Middle Ages. It was based on the idea that, “Jesus’ death and resurrection defeated Satan and thus set humankind free from his oppressive rule” (Boyd & Eddy, p. 114). Later John Calvin and Martin Luther developed the Penal Substitution view, that Jesus took on the punishment that humankind deserved. One must understand, however, that Calvin was an attorney, so he saw everything in legal terms. For him, there was a debt to be paid, and Jesus paid it. The problem I have with this view is that it turns our relationship with God into a transaction. A transaction is that I put down money at the store and I get to take the milk home. However, everything about scripture tells me that God is interested in transformation,...

The Invitation of Grace...

The follow is a devotional from Monday, March 21, 2016 written by Richard Rohr, founder and director of Center for Action and Contemplation. His writings are always good, and some just have to be shared. “As I shared earlier this year, the Bible is “a text in travail.” Sometimes the biblical writers catch a glimpse of God’s true character–love, mercy, and justice–and sometimes they lose sight of it. Old Testament scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann traces the evolution of human consciousness through three sections of Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah (the five books of the Pentateuch), the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature (including Job, the Psalms, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes). Just as children must begin with structure and rules, religion starts with setting boundaries, rituals, and rules about who is in and who is out. It’s all about protecting the status quo, our tribal and egoic identity. But eventually we have to develop the capacity for self-criticism, as the prophets did, which is the necessary second stage. If we do both of these stages well, we will normally be catapulted toward wisdom and holiness. Another way to look at this is a series of Order > Disorder > Reorder. Most conservatives get trapped in the first step and most liberals get stuck in the second. Healthy religion is all about getting you to the third, Reorder. There is no nonstop flight. You must learn the wisdom of both the first and second stages before moving on. Much of the chaos and instability of our time stems from many young and sophisticated people now beginning life in the second stage of Disorder and criticism, without first learning deeply from Order. It appears to be a disaster. The three stages must be in proper sequence for...

Mama Knows Best

“Some people come into your life for a lifetime and some come for a season; you have to know which is which. And you always gonna mess up when you mix up those seasonal people with lifetime expectations.” So says Tyler Perry’s mama character, Medea, in this clip from one of his stage plays. Staying in character for this entire 5-minute clip, mama Media gives some of the most sound advice on relationships you will hear...

Who Was St. Patrick?

Who was Saint Patrick, the patron saint of the Irish whose name represents all things green? Because of the holiday—St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated every March 17th—you might think this historical figure was an Irishman who drank green beer. In fact, neither is true. Saint Patrick was actually born in Scotland or Wales to parents who were Romans living as colonial bureaucrats in Britain! Born around 385, Patrick is surely to have drunk beer, or ale as it was called then. People drank a lot of beer back then because it was cleaner than water (that could give you nasty parasites and diseases). But as everybody knows, ale is more of a meal in a glass, and generally much darker than the standard pilsners and lagers from my Germanic ancestors and other Europeans. I don’t think they had green food coloring then; making beer (and rivers) green is an Irish-American invention meant to celebrate ethnicity. Patrick would have grown up with some privilege, as his parents worked for Roman occupiers. However, in his teens, a raiding party (that’s what they did back then) invaded and kidnapped Patrick off to Ireland, where he was made to heard sheep. It was as a slave in Ireland that he encountered God. There is nothing like captivity or other unpleasant circumstances to get you on your knees. He later wrote, “The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same…I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.” After about six years...

040: Pushing Through Pain Mar14

040: Pushing Through Pain...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/40-Pushing_Through_Pain.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 42:02 — 38.5MB)What do you do when you’re hurting? Do you self medicate? Try to ignore it? Talk to someone? Fall apart? We all experience all kinds of pain througout our lives. In this episode, personal developer Jack Woloshun sits down again with Dr. Deb to discuss strategies for responding to pain and practical steps to ensure that we not only recover, but grow through the process. Quotes mentioned: “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” – Basketball coach, John Wooden. “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell How you do anything is how you do everything.” – Franciscan Richard Rohr...

How do you start your day?...

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”  So said author, pastor and leadership guru, John C. Maxwell. We all have a morning routine. Of course it includes things like brushing your teeth, getting dressed and enjoying your favorite beverage. For some it also includes getting the kids ready, making lunches and ensuring everyone has what they need for the day. No matter who you are or what roles you rill, you need time to quiet your soul. And how you start your day can determine not only how your day goes, but how your life goes too. I used to get up and turn on the television to hear the morning news. But what I found over time that it was a terrible way to start my day. The chatter and stress of world events set me up to carry noise in my head throughout the day. What I discovered was key to changing my behavior. I realized that how I start my day influences the rest of the day…and my life. We all have to find our own path—our own routine and practices that work for us. I want to share what has worked well for me. Reflect. Read. Resolve. Reflect – A mark of our fast-paced “always on” lives is that we forget to take time to be silent and reflect. My morning routine involves making a lovely espresso drink and sitting in my favorite chair. I reflect on recent events, issues I’m dealing with, and the status of my relationships and goals. It means being silent and giving myself space to just be, think, process and feel. I give myself permission to just reflect. Read...

Friendship

Do you have good friends? I really mean outrageously committed, better-than-you, willing-to-go-the-mile friends who love you at your best AND your worst? I often reflect on my life that has been so enriched with quality and diverse people. Yet the longer I live, I get to experience even more awesomely unconditional, profound levels of friendship. Every time I think I’ve reach the pinnacle of what friendships can be, I find another level. I was recently going through some particularly deep, troubling and emotionally disturbing issues. The cool thing is I didn’t have to go through them alone. I met with several close friends who helped me talk through and walk through intense pain, helping me come to new levels of freedom and release. But how seldom we allow ourselves to go to such depth. In my recent crisis, I was desperate, as the issues I faced were a long-time coming and connected to years of “stuff.” Isn’t that when we reach out? It’s often in the pain and suffering that we come to the end our ourselves and find ourselves in the arms of loving friends who not only comfort us, but help us graduate to the next level. I am blown away that so many people love me. They really, really love me. This makes me reflect on what had to be in place for that to happen. Have friends who are better than you. Don’t always be the smartest, most loving or wisest one in the room. Invest in others. Love them. Be generous with them. When you are in need, you’ll likely be surprised who steps up to love on you. Be vulnerable and open. When we open to others who are worthy of our trust, they can help us navigate...

Escaping Pleasantville...

“Unless there is some pressure, social or parental, pushing [an] infant the beyond pleasure principle, human nature tends to largely take the path of least resistance. We really do need prods, goads, ideals to help us think outside of the little boxes we all create for ourselves.” So said Franciscan and spiritual leader, Richard Rohr. We only know what we know. Unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know. If someone grows up in a house where daddy beats mommy everyday, the kids just thinks is normal. We naturally think that what we experience is what is real; it just is, and until we are exposed to an alternative, we think it’s normal. So unless we are exposed to different ways of thinking and living, we are destined to repeat the realities we previously experienced. Too often we prefer to live in the certainty (but very small town) of Pleasantville than face the uncertainty of a really big world full of wonderfulness. Pleasantville is a film released in 1998 about two modern-day kids who escape into the idealist 1950’s, black and white town of Pleasantville. If you haven’t read my post about the film, please click here. Unfortunately, we are often destined to do the same things over and over, expecting a different outcome, or maybe even happy with the same ole same ole. We get stuck, really stuck. A car stuck in the mud is useless. Muscles that are unused atrophy; they become dead weight. And a world that never changes succumbs to chaos and death. Do you really want a piece of you to die everyday? Do you want to grow increasingly irrelevant? Do you want to be the person you are today to be the you in ten years? Change can...

Pleasantville

It seemed everything was perfect. Kids were happy, fathers got a fully cooked dinner after a long day at work, the streets were clean, and there was no crime anywhere to be found. It was the idealized American 1950s. It’s all the residents of the small town knew. But life turned messy when two teenagers from the next century invaded their perfect space. You see, the place was a fictionalized town inside a fictionalized movie called Pleasantville released 1998. The film starred Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels and Don Knotts. The film began in the 1990s. Tobey’s character David longed for the simplicity of the 1950s. The victim of his parents’ failed marriage, a stressed-out mother, and an absent father, David escaped his painful reality by watching old re-runs of a 1950s TV show, Pleasantville. And Reece’s character, Jennifer, was obsessed with being popular at school and sleeping with every high school boy she could seduce. Her value was based on being liked by others. One day, while fighting over the television remote, David and Jennifer were magically transported into the 1950s world of Pleasantville, only to find the town residents living in black-and-white, just like the TV show. What they found were isolated, ignorant and shallow residents. While everything seemed wonderful on the surface, the reality was that the townsfolk knew of nothing outside their tiny world, and were ignorant to the beauty of art, the mind-expanding knowledge of books and the intimacy of deep relationships. David and Jennifer could not help being who they were (their selves from the 1990s). As they interacted with Pleasantville’s residents, things began to change. As folks experienced beauty, choice, knowledge and passion, they began to change from 2-dimensional characters in black and white, to...

039: Get Past Stuck Feb15

039: Get Past Stuck

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/GCOYL-039-Get-Past-Stuck.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 51:05 — 46.8MB)An interview with Mark Tuggle, author of the new book, Get Past Stuck: How to Take Control of Your Spiritual Journey and Experience Full Life in Christ. This podcast is for anyone who not only feels stuck, but also anyone who is questioning beliefs they grew up with or who has thrown out religion all together. The author discusses why church and other institutions keep people from asking hard questions and developing into mature thinkers. He also offers very practical steps in reclaiming your spirituality and developing your own unique faith journey. The book is available in paperback or Kindle version from Amazon. Tuggle suggests making 3 lists: Crap I no longer believe Things I’m not sure I believe anymore Things I still believe to be true You might also be interested in a related article by Richard Rohr on Cosmos Instead of Churchiness....

It is well

  Pain. Anger. Frustration. Disappointment. Loss. We all experience the vast range of human emotion. And sometimes our feelings get the best of us. I recently had a frustrating week. Nothing seemed to go as planned. I felt trapped. I REALLY started to lose perspective. I have friends going through really bad stuff: life-threatening illness, divorce, economic troubles, and all the other “surprises” life sometimes throws our way. When we are in the midst of distresses, it often seems impossible to regain sanity and feel normal. We start going down what I call the toilet of despair, that sinking feeling of going in circles and threatening to disappear. We have our problems. But often, when we glimpse into the troubles of others, we see how relatively insignificant our little problems are and can get a bird’s eye view again. I’m not minimizing personal struggles or even tragedies. But I do think we sometimes need help adjusting our perspective. The video below helped me do that. In my morning devotional a few days ago, I thought about the old hymn that has been so meaningful from time to time. “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.” So I did a quick Google search to find the song. Then I came across this video. Not only did I get to listen to the beautiful words and music, but I also learned the tragic story of the author. Horatio Spafford was a prominent lawyer in the 1800s who seemed to have it all…and loose it all. But he never lost his faith. Turns out his lyrics transcend time and space. I found we...

For the Birds

Birds of a feather flock together. The saying came to mind when I recently drove by a park where a couple of hundred Canada geese were resting comfortably in the cold. Research shows that it’s not only birds that hang out with their own kind. People do too. It’s a myth that opposites attract; in fact, similar do. Multiple studies and simple observations show this. I even found this when I studied audience reactions to an African film. Even though the film was made in a completely different culture and region, audience members were drawn to the characters and story because of the cultural proximity. One person said, “They’re African like me!” In a time and place lacking locally made films, seeing people like them on a screen was significant. If you give cameras to budding photography students, and they go and shoot people who look like them. Whites photograph whites. Polynesians photograph Polynesians, etc. Ask people with whom they socialize and they will likely tell you about friends from their church, neighborhood, work or kid’s school. They tend to be of the same ethnicity, economic strata and education level. They also tend to be the same religion. We are quite naturally drawn to those who are similar us. But we don’t have to limit ourselves. We are not birds! We have the sophistication to be driven by factors other than instinct! We have free will, live in complex social networks, and have the ability to create new realities. We can actually rise above the narrow limitations of our social groups and actively seek out new ones. But it takes intentionality. I used to work with a very close-knit group. Even though group members were spread around the world, we had a pretty narrow...

Get Control Of Your Money Jan06

Get Control Of Your Money...

  With the New Year comes lots of attention on starting over and getting things in order. Try finding a parking spot at your local gym! And check out the closet organizing systems on sale in January! One area worth evaluating is your financial life. If you’re like me, you need a system to keep track of your income, bills, spending, and budgeting. For the past four years I’ve used a great piece of software called YNAB, short for You Need A Budget. Even though I’m still working on the budgeting aspect, YNAB has certainly helped me keep better records and track my spending. Now YNAB has taken its method and software to a completely new level. Instead of relying on a downloadable software package, YNAB has now become an online tool that connects all of your devices with your banks, credit cards and other financial institutions. Being web-based, it can more easily updated, and improved, and not rely on your precious storage of Dropbox. I can access YNAB on my computer, smart phone or tablet, all perfectly in sync and up-to-date with your banks and each other. Reconciling is not longer a much-dreaded, tedious process, rather a simple matter of assigning imported expenses to your priorities. YNAB‘s founder, Jesse Meecham, says he and other early adopters of the new YNAB are actually reconciling more often because it’s less work, making them keep on top of their financial activity more than ever. I am currently taking advantage of a free 34-day trial, using YNAB to sync with my financial institutions and give me a birds-eye view of all my accounts in one screen. No more logging onto separate bank websites to check on balances; I can even see my current mortgage status! In a...

resolutions #2

In my last article I opined that setting SMART goals is much more systematic and effective than making resolutions.

rezəˈlo͞oSHəns #1...

The dictionary defines a resolution as a firm decision to do or not to do something. It’s a word that is mostly used this time of year. It’s an abused word.

The Power Of Habit

My whole life I drove manual transmission cars. Shifting was almost as natural as breathing. I hardly had to think about pushing the clutch with my left foot and changing the gears with my right hand. It was a habit…that is, until two years ago, when I bought my first automatic. The funny thing is, I still sometimes reach for the shifter and insist on putting on the emergency brake when I park. Though driving an automatic car is easier, I still find myself occasionally resorting to old habits. Habits are like police characters in TV shows. Just like there are good cops and bad cops, there are good habits and bad habits. Some we want to break; others we want to develop. By understanding how habits work and what triggers them, we can make conscious changes and get control of our life! That’s the theory behind, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. I listened to the book over the holidays, which seemed like a timely addition to my toolkit for the new year. The book is a fascinating study into why we do what we do, with real steps on how to change. The book isn’t a pipedream; Duhigg read hundreds of studies on habit formation from social science, neuroscience and psychology, to come up with his theory. What he offers is both insight and practical. His basic premise is that habits involve 3 key steps: cue, routine and reward. Learning to recognize and manage these 3 steps can empower us to make lasting changes. Check out this short video review that reviews the concept. I encourage you to pick up the book (available in hardcover, paperback, Nook, audio CD, Kindle and downloadable...

Enjoying The Holidays...

I could have titled this article, “Surviving The Holidays,” but that had such a negative tone! I also thought of, “Staying Safe Over The Holidays,” but that sounded so pessimistic. How are you planning to enjoy the holidays? Will you enjoy them, or be stressed out? What would it take to actually ENJOY them? I realize this article is mostly for Americans, for where else do people get their panties in such a wad over a season that should be meaningful, sweet and relaxing. This is the time of year we can be vulnerable to potential pitfalls. It is important to enjoy time with friends and family, explore spiritual celebrations, and a get a break from the routine. Here are a few tips to keep in mind: Let it go. People are busy driving, shopping and preparing for Christmas. Some drivers seem to be going especially slow. Others are obnoxious shoppers with whiny children and attitudes. Family members know your buttons and are likely to push them. Let it all go. Don’t take offense. Don’t get frustrated. Let it go. Take a deep breath and relax. Do you really have to have 5 salads for Christmas dinner when 2 will do? What is the worst that might happen if you don’t get everything on your list done? Will you die? Will the world come to a end? Probably not. Watch your back when you’re out shopping. Thieves look for opportunities. Be mindful of your surroundings, keep your keys out and ready, and hug your belongings tight. Never leave a purse or other valuables within sight in your vehicle. NEVER leave your purse, even if you don’t think there is anything of value there. Even a driver’s license or ID card can help someone steal...

The Right Gifts Dec16

The Right Gifts

Gift giving at Christmas has its roots in remembering and commemorating two actions: First is the gift of God’s Son, Jesus, to make right all that had gone wrong in the world. The second is in remembering the gifts the wise men took to the Christ child after traveling far and wide to find him. But manufacturers and merchants have turned this into the most profitable time of the year. You are likely thinking about what gifts to purchase for your friends and family this year. And some of you are tempted to go into considerable debt to do so. How can you celebrate Christmas differently this year? How can you say, “I love you” to those who mean the most in your life without causing harm to them or yourself? Here are a few things you might think consider: 1, Check your motives. Are you really trying to bless others and truly love on them? Or are you trying to impress, outdo, and otherwise spoil? Exercising unhealthy behavior around others is never a good idea, and it likely does more harm than good, even if you don’t intend it. Model sensible behavior that is ripe with good intentions; people will pick up on the love behind the gift, no matter how small. Better to give something small but personalized, rather than something expensive that may go to waste, or even embarrass the recipient. See Dave Ramsey’s article on “4 Competitive Pitfalls To Avoid This Christmas.” 2. Ask yourself if you can afford the gifts you want to purchase. Someone recently wrote nationally-syndicated advice columnist, Amy Dickinson, asking how to handle a mother-in-law who routinely overspends on multiple gifts for her grandchildren, yet who is chronically behind on her mortgage and routinely asks for...

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