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...

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...

Quantum Entanglement

We are all connected in ways we are oblivious to. So I am immensely interested in the cross-section between science, social science (the study of humans) and spirituality. I love subjects of inquiry such as that surrounding quantum entanglement, which attempts to explain the ways that we are, indeed, connected. So I have to share this most recent article by Franciscan, Richard Rohr: Just as different ways of interpreting scripture and various types of truth (e.g., literal vs. mythic) are valuable for different purposes, so scientific theories have different applications while seeming to be paradoxical and irreconcilable. For example, we have the Newtonian theory of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and quantum theory. Physicists know that each of them is true, yet they don’t fit together and each is limited and partial. Newtonian mechanics can’t model or predict the behavior of massive or quickly moving objects. Relativity does this well, but doesn’t apply to very, very small things. Quantum mechanics succeeds on the micro level. But we don’t yet have an adequate theory for understanding very small, very energetic, very massive phenomenon, such as black holes. Scientists are still in search of a unified theory of the universe. Perhaps the term “quantum entanglement” names something that we have long intuited, but science has only recently observed. Here is the principle in layperson’s terms: in the world of quantum physics, it appears that one particle of any entangled pair “knows” what is happening to another paired particle–even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which are separated by sometimes very large distances. Could this be what is happening when we “pray” for somebody? Scientists don’t know how far this phenomenon applies beyond very rare particles, but quantum entanglement...

Nonverbal Communication...

A  guest article by Jennifer Larson “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” Peter Drucker We all have an invitation to honor people in our lives. Our ability to respond to those we cross paths with is endless. It is through our silent and subtle gestures that we offer the most to each other. A simple smile, wink, or nod can promote positive energy and positive change. Nonverbal Communication is defined as behaviors and characteristics that convey meaning without the use of words. It includes how we say things (pitch, volume, etc.) as well as facial expressions, artifacts (like rings, clothes, tattoos, architecture, etc.), gestures, smell, touch, use of silence, personal space and the like. Nonverbal is an important aspect of human connection. It is essential to our relationships and interactions, no matter how brief, with others. One of the most powerful books I’ve read on nonverbal communication is by Geoff Blackwell. Humanity: A Celebration of Friendship, Love, and Laughter, with countless images from all over the globe. It is a book that doesn’t need captions, as the emotion is felt with the turning of each page. This extraordinary book displays gestures of tenderness, intimacy, love, curiosity, surprise, and struggle. The images in this book expose simple and casual gestures, however, the meaning is powerful. The book is an intimate reminder to all of us that communication is more than the words we speak. We have an essential need for nonverbal communication on a daily basis. This includes both the abbreviated interactions as well as the lengthy meetings with people that share our day. It increases opportunity for a productive workplace and reduces conflict in our relationships. When we engage with people nonverbally, we communicate their significance in our lives...

Life’s Teachers...

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller How willing are you to learn from others? Here is a lovely guest article by Jennifer Larson. Our interview rooms were side by side down the last aisle in the Kansas City Department of Children & Family Service Center. I was a new caseworker and Kimberly was a ten year seasoned worker. Our duties included interviewing clients face to face for state and federal assistance programs. Kim had a remarkable way of reaching out to clients in their time of need. I leaned on her knowledge and expertise when I needed another set of eyes during moments of uncertainty. At the time, I had no idea her mentoring would reach far beyond the workplace. I think we gain valuable insight and courage from the people with whom we cross paths. They help us face adversity and change when we need it the most and when we least expect it. The term “teacher” should not be reserved for academia; teachers are, in every sense of the word, our family, friends, partners, coaches, coworkers, and, sometimes, even strangers. Who are the teachers in your life? How magnificent would it be if you could gather all of the mentors from your life into one room – all of the outstanding souls who have inspired your passions, your talents, and your dreams? Think about all the unforgettable people who help guide you towards the things you’re the most passionate about. Competitive coaches, determined teachers, relentless parents, and unfiltered partners. Though often unforeseen, many of these people have a hand in helping you navigate your way through life. They influence and assist both your personal and your professional growth. Our friendships and our romantic...

We’re All Connected...

This week I went back to school…not as a student, but as a teacher at a community college where I’ve taught for almost five years.. I teach communication courses, so it’s vital that I connect with students the first week, help them feel excited about the subject, and let them know they are going to learn AND have fun. This time I had a new tool in my arsenal.; it’s an energy stick sold by a goofy Denver-based scientist named Steve Spangler that I heard speak last week. The device is a simple contraption that lights up and plays a noise when the circuit is completed. How do you demonstrate it? You touch another person, then make contact again to complete the electrical circuit. It’s a perfect demonstration of the reality that we’re all connected. That’s right, WE’RE ALL CONNECTED in ways we are oblivious to. In fact, all living things are connected. I demonstrated this to my classes by having everyone form a circle and join hands. Then when they least expected it, I slipped the energy stick to a person standing next to me (instead of grabbing their hand) and the stick lit up and made a noise. But the moment anyone in the group let go of the person next to them, the stick would cease to entertain. Just one person had to disconnect for the circuit to be cut. We are all connected. This reminds me of one of my favorite documentaries. I AM was produced by Tom Shadyac, a director of films that made Jim Carey a household name (Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, etc.). After a nasty bicycle accident, Shadyac set out to explore deep truths about the universe, what make us happy, what it all means,...

Messy part 1

How comfortable are you with “messy?” I’m not referring to your desk or house, but rather people, life and society. I attended a worship service on Sunday that was full of “messy” people. Some clearly had mental illness. Others were homeless. Still others dressed funny. And (OMG!) some were gay. Most of us were raised to think with clear distinctions and a sense of who is acceptable and part of our “IN” group and who is “OUT.” (We usually define acceptable and “in” the same.) We divide people by race, economics, social status, religion, sexual orientation, and a million other categories. The in/out, us/them mentality is surely a fitting descriptor of our fallen world. We can learn from the great mystics and spiritual leaders of history. Jesus, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, the Dali Lama (and so many others) were transformed from the inside out and filled with compassionate love; they let go of judgment and were freed TO LOVE. In fact, they were very comfortable with “messy” on a very regular basis. How could Mother Theresa have served the poor like she did if she was constantly grossed out? We may not like tattoos, people of irregular size, other religions, or folks who do things we consider vile and outside the norm. However, life is messy. People are messy. And what seems to matter is our response. After the church service I attended with “messy” people, I ate lunch downstairs where even more “messy” showed up. They were homeless, coming on Sundays to eat a weekly meal they can always count on. I was surrounded by people who smelled bad, engaged in strange conversations, and even held their pets while they ate. A lady at my table had her less-than-sterile, “Homeless, please help” sign laying right...

Listening part 1

There are many myths about listening—mostly that hearing and listening are the same thing. Wrong; there are key differences. In this two-part series, we will focus on developing more effective listening skills. Great listening skills are essential for relationships and careers. Yet many of us are oblivious to how to do it. When we truly listen to someone, we ascribe value to them. Even if we don’t care about what they’re talking about, we can be motivated to listen because we care about the person. Watch this short video by Willard Barth on Improving Your Active Listening Skills. He shares some great principles, despite describing a person of faith vs. an open-minded person; they don’t necessarily have to be diametrically apposed (thought they sometimes are). Enjoy. On the next post I’ll share more principles for developing becoming a better listener. Royalty free image by Ben Earwicker – Garrison Photography, Boise, ID – www.garrisonphoto.org. Retrieved from...

Friends

There are friends by convenience. There are friends by blood. There are TV, Friends. And there are friends you deliberately choose to share life with (that make TV Friends look like playing house.) We’ve all experienced all of these. I am so glad to have a group of friends that see each other twice a month. We actually schedule it. And while some in the world might think it’s a strange thing to have to schedule a meting, by American standards, we find organizing ourselves on a regular schedule is great. We like it that way. It works for us. I started the group 2 1/2 years ago because I felt the need to form a group to go through life with. And apparently it struck a cord with the others as well. Relationships and groups can form over many touch points. They can share similar interests, like golf or cards. They can form because of a common faith. They can organize around almost anything. My group had two prominent things in common: They knew me. They were all in the same decade of life sharing similar challenges and goals. We decided to meet twice a week to see how it went. While I tried to introduce an agenda several times, the group has mostly just enjoyed the social aspect. They know it’s a place where they can eat and drink, relax and just share their lives. And everyone seems to think it’s really good thing. How is your social life? Have you considered being very deliberate about starting a group centered on something in common? Do you feel there is a group of folsk who could use a friend, enjoy a place to fit, and just do life together? You have much to give....

Multiplication

We’ve all heard the term, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Didn’t God say that to the first humans in the beginning? Jeannette and I (Dr. Deb)  agree that multiplication can take place in many forms. Neither of us have had children. Yet we have both deliberately spent our lives investing in others and multiplying ourselves. Here is the 2nd in a series of life and growth principles by Jeannette Slater. When we look at nature, we can quickly identify the principle of multiplication at work. Nature in all forms continues to reproduce and most of the time it is in multiples and many times it is in abundance. Rabbits are infamous for their ability to multiply. And consider plants. They scatter their seeds abroad in abundance with the goal of multiplying themselves. They know that not all their ‘offspring’ will survive, so ensure survival and growth through multiplication. Even the largest of organisms, whether plant or animal, do not grow endlessly. Rather they replicate themselves for life to continue. The California redwoods are some of the largest plants; yet they too reproduce. How does that translate to our lives? In some ways it’s obvious. If we spend all our time on one effort or a small circle of influence, we will likely fail to thrive. And we are certainly limiting the investment we COULD be making in others. Rather, we must cultivate multiple relationships in order to reap the fruit down the road. Utilizing the principle of multiplication means that we have to think differently. Instead of thinking about how we can add another leader or another client, we need to think strategically about how to invest our energy so that the result is multiplication rather than addition. If we simply add and replace what is lost, we...