Light Bulbs

“Imagine yourself sitting in a dimly lit room, reading a book with wires connected to your brain, and every time you understood a new concept or made connections between the book and your personal life, light bulbs literally lit up.” So wrote one of my students after reading a particular textbook chapter in my interpersonal communication class. I thought, what a great analogy that perfectly illustrates my topic! How long has it been since you’ve had a light bulb go on in your head? How long has it been since you had a new thought, asked a question, or ventured into a novel experience? I think we are always growing. That can mean many things: Growing up Growing mature Growing fat Growing old Growing younger Growing stale Growing cobwebs You get my drift. So even if you’re not growing as a person, you are growing somewhere, even if it’s towards decay, rigidity and death. I think a central law of the universe is that growing is good. That is if it’g going towards better. Every time you have an “ah-ha” moment, something in your mind and soul lights up. You discover something you didn’t know before, see something from a new angle, or generally get transformed. Imagine sitting in a dimly lit room, when suddenly, your personhood lights up. Everything in you says YES! Different analogies have been used to describe this experience throughout the ages. Jesus used the language of “born again” to describe a transition from what was to what can be. Though the term has been bastardized in recent years, the concept behind it is very real; it’s about opening one’s mind and heart to new things. Its about getting unstuck and embracing growth. It’s like being born again! Some people...

036: Get Control Of Your Emotions Sep20

036: Get Control Of Your Emotions...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/36-Terry.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 39:50 — 36.5MB)Security expert Terry Blevins shares techniques for controlling your emotions in volatile situations and stressed relationships. Recommended Resources: Humble: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein Article on Emotional Intelligence Article on the Johari Window Two articles on Listening part 1 and Listening part 2...

Self-concept

Who do you think you are? Who are you (really)? How do you think others see you? Your self-concept is likely a combination of all of these. It is, in essence, your identity. If you ask a Westerner (someone from North America, Europe or other whites in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) who they are, they will likely to tell you what they do for a living and what they like to do in their spare time. That is great, but fairly shallow. This of course if very different than non-Westerners (the rest of the world’s population) whose identity is much more tied to their group (ethnicity, tribe, region, etc.) yet sometimes lacking the specifics of an individual. Your self-concept is something that changes over your lifetime, or it should be if you are growing as a person. So your self-concept is obviously fluid. Who you think you are is a subjective view of yourself, including strengths, weaknesses, personality, abilities, talents, character and so on. And it may actually (unfortunately, too) be tied to who you used to be. It is also a subjective view of who you think others think you are. So if you think about it, your self-concept has nothing to do with who you really are. It’s the perception of who you are. We could break it down like this: Who you are Who you think you are Who others think you are Who you think others think you are Good grief! According to academics, your self-concept is influenced by personality, culture, biology, gender roles, and of course what we’ve already mentioned, self-reflected appraisal, and social comparison. It completely makes sense. I tell my students all the time that they have to figure out who they are and what...

What Would You Do? Sep14

What Would You Do?

Would you kiss butt to get a promotion? Enjoy a guest post by Terry W. Blevins: When in high school, my son told me that his personal ethics prevented him from getting a job because he would be required to blindly follow someone else’s ethical rules and not his own in exchange for money. I laughed at the time. But if I analyze that statement, it causes me to think. Would you compromise your personal standards in exchange for success? I’m not only talking about doing something dishonest, illegal or immoral, but also about those personal preferences that each one of us have regarding what we will do or won’t do in order to increase our chances of career success. Have you ever heard anyone say “I don’t care if they fire me, I’m not going to kiss anyone’s butt?” Of course the definition of “kissing butt” (aka: “kissing up to”, “kissing ass” also known as “being obsequious”) will mean many different things to each of you. In my experience, “kissing butt” means lying or exaggerating about something to impress your boss in order to gain their favor. (I think this is the generally accepted definition.) From thefreedictionary.com: kiss someone’s ass– Sl. to fawn over someone; to flatter and curry favor with someone ob·se·qui·ous (ŏb-sē′kwē-əs, əb-) adj. Full of or exhibiting servile compliance; fawning I think most of us would agree that “kissing butt” is something that is demeaning, and not something we are likely to do. But consider this scenario: Your boss asks what you thought of his presentation, and although you thought it was really bad, you know that you can’t be honest with him or her because they will be upset with you. If you sugarcoat your response in order to...

Honey

The old saying is that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I think that is not only true for flies, but for us too. Father Richard Rohr’s devotion on Sunday, September 6, 2015 was somewhat on this topic. See the excerpt below: “Rather than making dogmatic statements about how to get to heaven, Jesus modeled and taught how to live on earth in a loving way, and he said that this was indeed heaven! But Christians have all too often pushed heaven into the future. We’ve made Jesus’ death and resurrection into a reward/punishment system for the next world, which creates tremendously self-absorbed and self-preoccupied people. It doesn’t transform anyone into compassionate, loving individuals. Instead it leads to a kind of morbid self-analysis in which people feel guilty, inferior, and inadequate or superior and self-righteous. “This dualistic approach has corrupted the true meaning of the Gospel. I would go so far as to say that by sending Christians on a path of well disguised but delayed self-interest, we prostituted the entire spiritual journey from the very start. You cannot easily get to love when you begin with threats and appeals to fear. The driving energy is completely wrong. Rather, you come to love by attraction. Change must begin with positive energy or the final result is never positive.” To this I say YES! That is why I’m so glad to find a path to God that is marked by love and acceptance instead of fear and manipulation. But oh how may people have experienced the latter instead of the former. The irony is that LOVE drives the universe. God is not far away; the loving Divine is closer than our breath. God is sweeter than honey; and He/She is always...

035: Finishing Well Sep06

035: Finishing Well

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/35-Finishing_Well_-_9_5_15.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 46:43 — 42.8MB)A powerful story of love, end of life issues, dealing with aging parents, doing the right thing, taking risks, perspectives, letting go and finishing well. Jack and Stacia Woloshun talk about walking through the final year with Sally Woloshun, Jack’s mom (and guest on Get Control podcast #24: Timeless Wisdom). It may not be for everyone, but is especially for those who may be walking by someone with a diminishing...

Believing and Doing

Are we meant to BELIEVE or to DO? Have you thought about it? Which is more important, what you believe or what you do? Can you have one without the other? This question goes back a long way and has roots in both philosophy and theology. It helpful to introduce two terms that link the spiritual nature of being and doing. Orthodoxy is doctrinal correctness; it’s about theory, belief and conviction. It’s about believing the right stuff. Orthopraxy, on the other hand, is about doing or right practice. So is it important that we seek truth and try to believe good stuff? Or is it important that we work out our beliefs and values in acts of service? We might ask, what is a glove without a hand? (One might respond, not very useful at all.) I was brought up in the Lutheran church, a denomination that was founded on the radical (at the time) convictions of 16th century reformer, Martin Luther. Despite Luther’s belief that even doing simple tasks like housework are as important as the work of monks and nuns, he was overwhelmed with revelation of and the urgent need for an understanding grace. (We might define grace as the undeserved acceptance, love and assistance of the Divine.) In a historical period where salvation was all about “earning” one’s redemption, Luther’s voice was counter-cultural. He latched onto the Apostle Paul’s writing that “We are saved by grace” (Ephesians 2:8). We might pause to ask ourselves if it is enough to just believe the right stuff. Perhaps like me, you have encountered people who seemed to believe the right stuff, yet their behavior was deplorable. In the name of religion, they seemed to be doing “the work of the Lord,” yet didn’t have...

Try This!

A moving car is much easier to steer than a parked one. So says the cliché about moving forward in life. But personally, I think it’s a good one. While some of us thrive on change, others of us would rather get a root canal. That said, it seems all of use can be resistant, closed or even defensive to opportunities for change. Our egos can get in the way. I firmly believe we all need outside influences to get us moving. On our own we get stuck. We resist. We balk. Oh how often we miss out because we remain in our comfortable lives. We hang out with the same people, eat the same foods, watch the same TV shows. I think the following from Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, is worth sharing. “The Dalai Lama said it well: “Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.” I would add: ‘Every change of heart is soon a change of mind.’ This is the urgently needed work of mature spirituality…Many folks over the years, even very good-willed people, have read and listened to my presentations of the Gospel yet have actually done very little–in terms of lifestyle changes, economic or political rearrangements, or naming their own ego or shadow selves. After all, “Isn’t church about believing ideas to be true or false? Isn’t religion about attending services?” Most people just listen to my ideas and judge them to be true or false. They either “like” or “don’t like” them. But thinking about ideas or making judgments about what is moral or immoral seldom leads to a radically new consciousness. Transformative education is not asking you to believe or disbelieve in any doctrines or dogmas. Rather it is challenging you to “Try...

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,...

What my dog teaches me about God...

I have two dogs. One is a neurotic, co-dependent Schnauzer named Moxie. But despite her quirks, I love her. The other is a Cairn Terrier named Penne. (Hence I have a Moxicillin and a Penicillin.) Though I know the Divine exists in all things, I am particularly struck by how my Penne models God. She loves me unconditionally. I don’t have to earn her trust of love; she just accepts me. She is affectionate. She likes to snuggle and licks me with great affection. (I know she likes the salt on my skin in the summer, but I also think it’s her way of saying, “I love you.”) But the strongest attribute of my little black pooch is that she is keenly aware of me. I get busy and forget all about her; but she keeps tabs on me. When I walk from one room to another (including the bathroom), she follows me; I look down to see the little Penne at my feet. I think it’s amazing that one being can be so acutely aware and in touch with another. Even as I wrote this last sentence, she walked up and gave me eye contact. I guess it’s her way of “checking in.” I do think the Divine is acutely aware and attentative, always in touch and never far away. Like the affection of an amazing little creature, how much more the thought that the creator of the universe not only knows my name, but follows me around wherever I go. Wow. That’s pretty...

034: Life Stages & States Aug22

034: Life Stages & States...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/34-Stages___States_-_Jeannette_.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:06 — 27.6MB)Jeannette Slater & Dr. Deb discuss personal growth in light of what some have identified as life stages & states. The conversation was somewhat sparked by a brief article published by Father Richard Rohr on May 3, 2015. He builds on the work of philosopher, Ken Wilbur who described the differences between life stages & states. Here is a section of the article, though we encourage you to click on the link above and read it in its entirety: “Your stage of human development has to do with your location in time, your culture, and your education. It has to do with your level of intellectual maturity, how much you’ve been able to integrate thought patterns in a consistent and informed way. Most of us in our lifetimes have grown through a few stages, eventually seeing the limits of each previous stage (both in our own lives and within history), and moving to the next: in general, the ideal tangent is pre-rational, through rational, and on to trans-rational. The trans-rational stage builds on the other two and thus has endless horizons. This is the full trajectory and direction of human growth, with many intermediate stops and starts in between. “Your state of consciousness is more about your level of inner awakening than mere correct information. How much do you live connected to self and others and the Whole? How much have you overcome your sense of separateness and superiority? How much do body, soul, and spirit work together as one? Have you moved beyond simply reacting? Can you act and think in pure inner freedom? In traditional religious language, how much do you live in union with God? “Your state is your inner aliveness....

What do you see?

What do you see when you see people? A problem with living in a world filled with judgments and classifications is that we don’t always look at others in positive ways. We have a tendency to not only compare, but stereotype and make strong conclusions about others. We don’t always deal well with different and messy. Most of us are socialized to have strong opinions about others. So it is often challenging to look upon others in the best light. We fail to see the Divine in them. We fail to celebrate the uniqueness. I recently read this quote by the mystic, Thomas Merton from his Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. . . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being [hu]man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now [that] I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this!”* This reminds me of a similar experience I had; I could have written Merton’s piece myself one day while visiting Kuala...

Excellence

Last week I went to an awesome concert. It was at one of the top venues in the world, the Red Rocks natural amphitheater in Colorado. The setting was almost perfect. The sun set as we watched distant showers over the Denver skyline. Our skin enjoyed a perfect temperature. And then we got to hear musicians who are the best of the best perform from their hearts. The bands? Eclectic Pink Martini from Portland, jazz pianist and vocalist, Diana Krall and her band, and the Colorado Symphony. Wow. The audience was treated to mind-blowing performances by exceptionally talented musicians. The genres played were diverse: jazz, bossa nova, opera, pop. I was on row 48 clapping to the beat, mouthing some of the lyrics and kept saying wow, wow, wow. Excellence has a way of blowing your mind and leaving your speechless. There is something special about being around people who are doing what they were made to do and have perfected their craft. Would anyone question whether John Lennon and Paul McCartney were meant to write songs, or Steve Jobs was to innovate technologies, or Michelangelo was to paint and sculpt? My 16-year old niece is visiting. She’s a competitive swimmer, so I asked her why she swims. She said being in the pool is not only a stress reliever, but also a place where she can be alone with just her and the water. She competes because it helps her work towards her goal of getting a college scholarship and maybe even going professional. She competes against others, but I think she mostly competes against herself. She is convinced she was made to swim. She’s got three things that are necessary: talent, motivation, and discipline. She’s probably still working on her 10,000 hours,...

Pain Lessons

You can’t always get what you want. So said the great musical poet, Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones classic song. How do you respond when you don’t get what you want? How do you respond to obstacles, or what best-selling author, Seth Godin, called “the dip?”* When you hit a roadblock (which could be an illness or any tough situation), you have choices. Do you ignore the problem, go around it, push through it, surrender to it? These past few weeks, I’ve had a health issue that has seriously cramped my style. And by style, I mean it has made it impossible for me to get much done. I am a doer and tend to judge the success of my day by how much I accomplish. At the beginning of the summer, I made a long list of tasks I wanted to accomplish during the warm weather and while I was less occupied with teaching. But time got away, and I’m not sure where the summer went. As a result, as the summer started to wind down, there were extra expectations I put on myself for one last push before school starts. And then I got a foot infection. Not only did it swell up, hurt and make me limp around. It also made me incredibly tired, and feeling like I had the flu. It’s been a real drag—for what seems like a long time. I realized I had a choice in my response. I could do the usual and stress about what I hadn’t accomplished. I could get angry at the illness. There were various emotional states and thoughts I could engage in. However, through this, I found myself mostly able to let expectations go and do what I could from my chair. After...

Nagasaki

It dropped from the sky just three days after the other one. The first was an atom bomb, the equivalent of 15 thousand tons of TNT that exploded above Hiroshima, Japan. The second was a plutonium bomb that fell on less than 200 miles away on Nagasaki. Never in the history of humankind had a single weapon—two it seems—created such mass and catastrophic devastation. About half the population of these two cities died instantly as their bodies evaporated into nothing or their flesh was ripped or burned off. In the weeks and months that followed, others died from their burns, radiation sickness, malnutrition and other injuries. And for years, other victims, and their offspring, suffered a variety of cancers and birth defects. By any account, it was horrible. We will not discuss the justifications here; people all over the world can justify what they do to fellow humans in the name of whatever they are preserving or fighting for. As we remember these events 70 years later, perhaps we can take away some lessons. I heard on a news report this week that the Japanese people are not bitter. Hmmmmm, not bitter? How could this be? Then I heard the name of the memorial at Hiroshima is not called a war memorial, it’s called a peace memorial. Wow. I don’t recall ever seeing a peace memorial in America, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, if you Google “peace memorial,” the first several hits you see are for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Compare this to the attack on the twin towers in New York on 9/11/2001. Americans were incensed that they would a) be attacked on their home soil, and b) innocent civilians would be the target of the attack. Home soil...

033: Boundless Aug08

033: Boundless

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/33_Boundless-Bryan_Bishop.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 36:36 — 33.5MB)Bryan Bishop has been writing stories for many years but is new to the book scene. After conducting interviews and doing research around the world for almost 20 years, he has just released his first book, Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Teach Us About Following Jesus. In it, he shares stories of faith that have emerged from unexpected sources—hidden movements of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others who are experiencing and following Jesus outside of traditional Christian channels. These are people that have likely never even met a Christian or learned how to look for God in culturally Western fashion. In researching the fascinating expressions of other cultures and religions, Bryan found an ability to not only learn from others, but identified some fascinating keys to spirituality that can inform the rest of us. From the book’s back cover: “If you want to grow in areas where you feel stagnant or disillusioned, if you are concerned bout friends who have left the church behind, or if you chafe against the European-American cultural box into which we force Christianity, you will find in this book a liberating view of what it looks like to follow Christ.” Boundless is about rediscovering cultural diversity in Christianity that has been stifled for centuries. It’s also about Westerners who are increasingly fleeing the institutional church in record numbers. From pages 29-30 in the book: “I wonder if there’s a parallel with the appetite in the West for ethnic cuisine. Could it be that Christianity, as it grew up in Europe and America, developed its own kinds of flavor? I has become like good old European meat, potatoes, and gravy. Or to Americanize it, like the hamburger. Christianity basically smells...

Hiroshima

This week we “lament, and grieve our own complicity in the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 on the Feast of the Transfiguration. The atomic bomb became a symbol of humanity’s capacity for negative transfiguration.” So writes Father Richard Rohr, keenly aware that he lives near “Trinity Site,” where the bomb was tested before it was used to destroy two cities in Japan. “This is a reminder to me,” he wrote, “that my capacity for evil is as close as my backyard and my own shadow [myself].” Transfiguration marks the time when Jesus climbed a mountain with two of his disciples—Peter and James—and was transfigured before their eyes. It was a profound spiritual experience when “dazzling brightness which emanated from His whole Body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity.”* Whether or not you are American, I thought Rohr’s devotional on the subject was both timely and universal enough to share portions with you. May the anniversary give all of us us pause to remember and reflect. In considering the life message of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun who lived just over a hundred years ago, the contrast between WHO WE ARE and WHO WE COULD BE is stark indeed. Rohr went on: “What if we had studied the “science of love” in the Little Way as she did? Harnessing the energy in the smallest interactions, moment by moment, we might have found that, indeed, “Love is as strong as Death” (Song of Songs 8:6). What if we had practiced confidence as Thérèse did–as deep trust in the mercy, love, and goodness of God? Maybe we would not have found ourselves in the position where good people participated in the continual “sin of the world” (John 1:29), which I am convinced is ignorant killing. Endless...

Stop Saying You’re Fine!...

According to motivational speaker, Mel Robbins, one of the worst words in the English language is, “fine!” We get stuck and fail to move forward because we tell ourselves (and others) we are fine. We fail to lose weight, make more money or all the other things we never achieve. The solution, says Robbins, is to stop screwing yourself over and activate your energy. It’s simple, she says, but not easy. Watch this very liberating and encouraging TED Talk video to help you get unstuck. Robbins principles? Force yourself: Out of your head Past your feelings Outside your comfort zone Practice the 5 second rule (act within 5 seconds of getting an idea)             You can purchase Mel Robbin’s book, Stop Saying You’re Fine here. Royalty-free Stop image by Pat Herman. Retrieved...

032: Spiritual Influences Jul29

032: Spiritual Influences...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/32-Spiritual_Influences_.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 45:18 — 41.5MB)Dr. Deb and Jeannette Slater discuss their faith journeys and the many spiritual leaders who have influenced them. Life and faith are meant to be a journey that is always expanding and growing. If your faith has not changed, or if you have not felt free to ask deeply felt questions, take courage. There are places you can go and voices you can hear that will help you escape the smallness of faith. Get unstuck and inspired in this most personal, yet universal conversation. Here are the spiritual leaders we mentioned that have most deeply influenced us: Richard Rohr – Here you can read about Father Rohr, the Center for Action and Contemplation, and sign up for daily email devotionals. https://cac.org Rob Bell http://robbell.com The Robcast is Bell’s fantastic podcast; it’s available on iTunes. Shane Hipps http://shanehipps.com Ask Science Mike http://mikemchargue.com/ask-science-mike/ The Liturgists http://www.theliturgists.com Mirabi Starr http://mirabaistarr.com Winkie Pratney http://www.winkiepratney.net Gregory Boyd Blog: http://reknew.org Podcasts: http://whchurch.org/sermons-media/sermons Shane Claiborne http://www.redletterchristians.org/shane/ Ilia Delio http://www.ilia-delio.squarespace.com Phyllis Tickle http://www.phyllistickle.com Book: The Great Emergence http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/great-emergence-the-phyllis-tickle/1111409784?ean=9780801013133 Youth With A Mission (YWAM)...

You Need A Budget Jul28

You Need A Budget

I am on a quest to be financially healthy. And for me to be successful in any area of my life, I need a SYSTEM that helps me accomplish my goals. It must be easy to use and convenient. At the beginning of 2012, I began looking for a program to keep track of my money, and was so pleased when I found You Need A Budget, or “YNAB” for short. My readers can get a $6 discount  on the software by linking from this site. And students can get the software for FREE with proof of school registration! I had used Quicken to balance my checkbook for years. But when a computer upgrade made the program unusable, I was forced to find an alternative. What I found does so much more. And Lord knows I needed more. YNAB has software for both your computer (Mac or PC) and smartphone (iPhone, Android or Kindle Fire), syncing all your devices effortlessly via Cloud Sync. Not only does it keep track of your checking account, but ALL your accounts including savings, credit cards, and Pay Pal. It also contains your budget, so you can keep track of what comes in and what goes out. Reports show you exactly what your money is doing. YNAB money management so simple, even I can do it! And I’m numerically challenged! However, YNAB is much more than software. The company offers free live and recorded classes to teach you how to use the software and the method. They teach a four-rule method to help you stop living pay check to pay check, get out of debt and save more money. They are: Rule #1 – Give every dollar a job Rule #2 – Save for a rainy day Rule #3...

What took me so long?...

Did you ever do anything, and then wonder why it took you so long? I’ve lived near the Rocky Mountains for almost 20 years; I’ve wanted to go camping—real camping—for most of that time. This weekend I finally did it! Now that I’ve done it, I realized doing it the first time wasn’t such a big deal, and doing it again will be much easier! I’m over the first-time hurdle! It did take a few things to fall in place. I needed someone to go with. I could go camping with just my dogs, but going with a friend who also wanted to go was a real help in organizing and also feeling safe. Resources. There is all the camping gear you need. Another friend gave me her old camping cooking stuff (pots, dishes, etc.) plus a water container and lantern. This was a huge help; guess I didn’t even know where to start before that. After that, I picked up a very warm sleeping bag and tent on sale for really cheap. Watching for sales and bargains is key if your income is limited like mine. Learn from others. I got online to find camping packing lists to figure out all the stuff we needed to have on hand. Why reinvent the wheel when you can learn from others? My experience did have to have a convergence of several things. These are likely things you need to do what thing you’ve wanted to do for so long. Vision: Picture yourself doing it. Desire: Want it enough to put in the effort, including planning and putting together what you need. Resources: Get creative. Watch sales, borrow, think about how to re-purpose what you have. Time: Take time. You will need to carve out time to...

Messy part 2

In the last article, I discussed something we all know: life is messy. We sometimes don’t want to face people or problems we can’t relate to, and we are likely to RUN Forrest RUN! This time I want to write about internal messy. Yea, sometimes we want to run from that also! We all have stuff, baggage, issues, shit, whatever you want to call it. It’s the ugly part of our human experience, brought on by personal failures, warped views of reality, skewed perceptions, hurts from others, the dark side of our cultures, and a lot of other factors. It’s so easy to go through life and just coast…to not really deal with our “stuff.” It seems we tend to grow and transcend in two ways: Experiencing profound, unconditional love Suffering–facing and working through our pain (facing it head on and dealing with it!) It is the later we address here. It takes much courage to engage in deep self-evaluation. We might be afraid of what we will find. Or we are tempted to run away from the pain. Who likes pain? Given the choice between an ice cream and a root canal, healthy people will usually choose the ice cream, unless of course they have a lot of tooth pain and are desperate to get help. I was talking with someone recently who discussed his experience with addiction and dysfunction. He moved to get away from his pain, but of course, the pain came with him. He tried avoiding his issues, going around them and getting in front of him, but he finally realize he had to go THROUGH them. It’s what I heard Father Richard Rohr describes as: Construction – how you develop our life, only to realize some of it wasn’t working...

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...

031: Strong & Fruitful Life Jul19

031: Strong & Fruitful Life...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/31-Strong_and_Fruitful_Life.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 14:31 — 13.3MB)In this podcast, we asked several people what they think it means to live a strong and fruitful life, the purpose statement for Get Control Of Your Life. It was recorded at Conspire 2015: “A conspiracy for God conference.” Interviews include Richard Rohr, Sister Simone and Mirabi Starr. Here are the guests who commented in the order in which they appear; the public figure names appear with their websites: Chris & Phileena Heuertz – Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism Sister Simone Campbell, General Director of the Sisters of Social Service and Executive Director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby. She is author of Nuns on the Bus, and featured in a documentary of with the same title; see the trailer and read about the film here. Justin Osterman from Lincoln, Nebraska Mary Frances & Robin Cunningham from Kansas Ele Clay, seminary student in Texas Mirabi Starr, Professor of Philosophy and World Religions at University of New Mexico-Taos, inter-spiritual teach­ings of the mystics, and author of multiple books including Teresa of Avila: The Book of My Life and Saint John of the Cross. See her website here. Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of the Center for Action and Contemplation Richard Rohr is a Franciscan Priest, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, author of multiple books, and an ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. See Oprah’s interview with Father Richard here.  ...

Identity & Cultural Bridges...

Dr. MelindaJoy Mingo was a guest on the Get Control Of Your Life podcast. It’s #25 on the topic of identity. (Click here if you missed it!) We recorded the podcast around a time that I asked MJ a dreaded question, one that is a ‘bit tiring’ to women of color. After being taken aback and laughing, she had a gracious response. Then she wrote this article: My friend Deb asked me the ultimate question that most Black women will understand…”Is that your real hair?”  My unspoken thought was “Here we go again with the ‘hair thing’ and  did she just reach over and touch my hair without asking for my permission!’ Now I must tell you that Deb and I have been friends for years but…,the ‘hair question’ – well, it touched a nerve. Yes, the proverbial question about Black hair. While it is a bit funny that a simple question can ignite such intense emotions, I learned a lot about myself from my response, and what God was teaching me. (not Deb) I was polite after I swallowed hard and said “Girl, if I was going to wear extensions, weaves, braids, wigs, clip ons, snap ons, sew ons, etc., it would look better than this mess! This IS my hair.” My friend looked at me with all the sincerity and innocence of a little lamb and said, “Should I not have asked you that question?” As I think back over my intense response,  I realize that it wasn’t really the question of hair. If I am honest, it is a deeper issue of my journey in the area of embracing my identity and coming to a place of valuing who I really am – not the perception that I want people to have about...

030: Reinventing Yourself Jul04

030: Reinventing Yourself...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/30-Reinventing_Yourself_-_Regina_Hopewell_-_7_4_15__12.04_PM.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 13:12 — 12.1MB)Change is an inevitable part of life and how we negotiate change makes all the difference. Transitions in career and relationships as well as life-altering events give us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. In this conversation, Dr. Regina Hopewell shares her life story and highlights principles she’s learned to make successful transitions. The Center on Just Living site explains Regina and her husband Mark’s work on sustainability and justice issues. They also offer a list of fantastic resources. Resources Regina shared include: Living on Purpose by Tom & Christine Sine Walking Gently on the Earth by By Lisa Graham McMinn and Megan Anna Neff Everyday Justice by Julie...

Listening part 2

Most of us come out of the womb knowing how to hear. But we don’t come out knowing how to listen; THAT is a learned skill. Listening is getting harder everyday. With all the noise of our world, it’s tempting to shut down and tune out. Learning when and where to do that is essential, but so is essential listening; Unless you live as a hermit in a cabin in the woods by yourself, your likely interact with people everyday. And interaction, relationships, business and the core of it all—communication, is dependent on listening. While I’m not usually big on lists, I do want to share ten principles to consider for improving your listening skills. Even if you don’t care about the topic, listen because you care about the person. Think about how you feel when you talk with someone you know is not listening to you. Do you feel devalued? Caring for another person is good motivation to give anyone a listen. Consider where to have conversations. Today’s pubs and restaurants are very noisy places. Trendy establishments are decorated with lots of hard surfaces (like concrete and steel) that do not absorb noise. If you need to have a deep conversation, carefully pick where you go. Think about places that will facilitate good conversation. Deal with the noise in your own head. Besides dealing with noisy environments, we have as much chatter inside us. We may be thinking about all the stuff we have to get done, whatever current challenge we’re dealing with, or some other life issue. And when we focus on ourselves, we leave no room for listening to others. Concentrate on not letting your mind wander with all the busyness of your own life. Seek first to understand before being...

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...

Fruitfulness

This is the sixth and final article in a series on growth force principles identified by German biochemist, Frederic Vester who found six principles that lie at the heart of all living and growing things. By applying these principles to our lives, we can increase the health and potential for growth in all that we do. The final growth force principle is fruitfulness. “Be fruitful and multiply,” is a well-known passage from the book of Genesis. We can assume its intent was deeper and more profound than just keeping humanity going! We pack our days with a lot of activities. But sometimes we confuse a manic schedule with making a difference—being fruitful. And the only way to know the difference is to stop, breathe, think and evaluate! Bible teacher Joyce Meyer once talked about the difference between being busy and being fruitful. “Did you ever stop to think that just being busy – running around in circles all day but not accomplishing anything – is the same as wasting your time? It’s frustrating to expend so much energy and time and not have any fruit from your effort!” The fruitfulness principle (found throughout nature) says that every aspect of our lives should produce discernible results in line with its intended purpose. This, of course, assumes we know our intended purpose! In nature, fruitfulness is obvious. Either a fruit tree bears fruit, or it’s ornamental! An organism is alive as long as it continues to function the way it was designed, with appropriate outcomes. But when an organism is no longer ‘fruitful,’ it dies and makes way for others. Vineyards are a great example. Each vine must produce grapes. So if a vine fails to produce grapes (of expected quality and quantity) its issues must...

Quit loving the sinner...

Love the sinner but hate the sin. So goes the old Christian saying. But it is really a good saying? Is there is a good philosophy behind it, or might it need some significant tweaking? I came across a very provocative article on this and knew I had to share it with you. Get Control Of Your Life is not only about generating new content, but sharing great stuff we come across. The post is by mom, Beth Woosley, published on her blog titled, 5 Kids Is A Lot Of Kids Woosley claims the saying, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin,” is not in the bible and actually originated with Augustine of Hippo (whom some people call a Saint) and his Confessions. I’ve read the 4th century theologian’s treatise and actually done a fair amount of research on the man. Augustine was a tortured soul who, before converting to Christianity, lived a morally depraved life and was a member of a wacky cult. He brought many neo-platonic ideas into Christianity as well as his guilt-driven views of the material world. While Augustine’s influence on Christian theology is undeniable, reconsidering some of his positions is clearly appropriate. Please take a few minutes to read this important article: http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/10/3-reasons-i-quit-loving-the-sinner-and-hating-the-sin/ Feel free to leave a comment below or on Beth’s...

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