Life Tweaks

How do you finish this sentence? If at first you don’t succeed take a step back, maybe a nap and have some ice cream. redefine success reload and try again try doing it the way your spouse told you fuggedaboutit (give up and never try again) Of course the old saying is, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But then again, Albert Einstein said, “ Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Sometimes we need to make adjustments. OK, MOST times we need to make adjustments! Even a little piece of information or help can make all the difference. Today I spotted my first backyard humming bird. I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to attract the little critters for years. Then recently, the owner of a birdfeed shop told me to put out my feeder earlies–on April 15th (tax day in the U.S.)–so the early scouts will find it. Sure enough; it worked! I’ve also tried vegetable gardening with limited amounts of success. Recently, I learned some important tips while attending some urban gardening lectures. Now I know I can’t put out my tomatoes until it looks like the 10-day forecast shows temperatures at night above 55 (Fahrenheit). I also learned never to transplant anything into a dry hole; always fill it with water first. I anticipate these minor tweaks will help me have a more successful garden this year. When we do things and fail, we often assume our complete strategy is flawed. Or we make up silly excuses like, “it was never meant to be.” However, we usually just need to find some additional information and inspiration. Even a little tweak can make all the difference. Are you constantly looking for tweaks?   Hummingbird photo by...

Emotional Intelligence...

What makes for a successful life? That is a central question behind this blog, as well as many research studies, books, leadership seminars and general conversation. For years educators and managers focused on IQ—how SMART people are. But since the early 1990s, another quotient has arisen—EQ—emotional quotient. Instead of measuring mental capacities, EQ measures social capacities. It refers to one’s ability to identify and manage emotions, both in themselves and others. It has to do with our emotional responses to various life experiences such as stress, challenges, grief, conflict and diverse social situations. If you have a high EQ, you are able to recognize your emotional state and that of others. You know how to engage others in ways that draw them to yourself rather than alienate them. You use your emotions to achieve success, built healthy relationships, achieve goals and lead a fulfilling life. If you have a low EQ, you become easily overwhelmed by situations, are unable to read other’s emotions, and find your goals sabotaged by emotions you can’t control. You can take a short test to measure your EQ. The good news is that no matter how developed our EQ, we can all grow in our social and emotional learning (SEL). We can develop emotional and social skills. SEL programs in schools have helped raise both academic achievement and social behavior. According to a lead EQ researcher, Daniel Goleman, schools that teach SEL experience better attendance, see grades improve by an average of 38% and report misbehavior drops of 28%. Learning to be in touch with one’s emotions and know when, where and how to adequately express them, is key for life success and emotional well being. In his book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman wrote that preliminary science is showing the...

Eat Your Veges

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” That’s what I heard growing up.

Fingerprints

Oprah Winfrey said, “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” I completely agree. However, it’s not always easy. We think life is going one direction, and it suddenly changes course. If the world would just let us be the nice people we really are and let us make our mark! If we do 99 things right and one wrong, we tend to focus on the one we screwed up! The truth is, you bring things to the world no one else does. When you walk into a room, the room is different because you are there. I just finished the book, The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. It’s a book written for people like me who want to influence others in positive ways by writing and speaking. But I found their conclusion to have universal appeal. Brogan and Smith wrote the following that I thought was worth sharing as you begin yet another week of your brief but significant life. “The curtain opens, you have your moment in the limelight, and you say your lines. The audience applauds during your solo, there’s a love interest side story, and everything ends up happily ever after. Unfortunately, almost nothing happens this way. This is life, not a movie. So there are no credits that roll after a crisp, simple ending. In fact…your life is messy. Not everything fits in quite right. There are mistakes, missteps and mispronunciations. Thankfully, as long as you’re doing at least something right, almost no one will remember them. Instead they will remember your home runs and big hits. They’ll remember the work that helped them achieve a breakthrough, reach many other people, or make a million dollars. Along the way...

Save Real Money Online Apr22

Save Real Money Online...

I like to shop online. It’s convenient; saving time, gas and money. There a many tools to help you shop, like aps and website that compare models, prices, and offer discounts. It’s a great way to save a ton of money! Just in the past two days I saved more than $51! I need an electronic ball valve (really). Locally they are almost $400. So I decided to look around online. First I did a simple Google search for the part and found websites that compared models and prices. I was able to find comparable product for $185 at a particular online store. Upon checkout, I decided to Google “discount codes” for the store I was buying from. Sure enough, I found a code for $25 off from another website. I plugged it into my cart and VOILA! I saved $25, bring the price down to $160! Then I needed to order something else at Lowe’s. At checkout I decided to try another Google search, this time for “Lowes promotional codes.” And SHAZAM! I found a code for 10% off my order. That translated to 26 bucks! Seriously, 26 bucks! So without trying very hard, I saved $51 in hard cash and even more if you consider what shopping around did for me. Whether or not you like to shop online, if you GO online, doing a little research can help you save more of your hard-earned money. It just takes a little tenacity and belief that you can get the best deal if you try just a little! (I’m amazed at people who never shop around. Ugh!) The following lists are a some great sites, though only a drop in the bucket. As I mentioned, a simple online search using Google, Yahoo or...

Serving

Serving sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s tempting to think that servants are somehow lower than the people they serve. It’s just not so.

DEATH And Taxes

They say they’re the only two things you can count on. We don’t like to talk about either; but they are inevitable. Few of us voluntarily sit down and think about what will happen when we die. It’s just not a comfortable scenario to consider. And yet death is the one certainty we have; preparing our ‘estate’ (no matter how small or big) is the right thing to do. Taking care of all your stuff can be a real pain for others if you haven’t expressed your wishes. I like what Dave Ramsey says, “To die without a will is just plain rude!” Do it for the people who care about you. You don’t have to hire an expensive attorney; you can download a form from Internet sites like legalzoom.com. But making a will is only one thing that should be on your list. At the time of this posting, you can get a will from U.S. Legal Forms for only $15. In preparing for the (someday) inevitable, you might consider the following questions: How will I leave my earthly affairs? Would my loved ones be scrambling to find out know how to handle my physical remains? Would they know how to deal with my bills? Less dramatic than death might be a critical illness or robbery. If I fell ill, would those around me know my doctor and insurance company? If my home was broken into, would I know what items were taken? These are unsettling questions to consider when things are going well. But if we don’t, we end up dumping a huge responsibility and hassle on our loved ones at the time when they are dealing with grief. When my dad suddenly passed away, we were so thankful that he had created a system so we could locate his critical information. So the question then is, What information do I need to gather or create so my loved ones have peace of mind on how to manage my affairs? How old do I need to be to start this process? The answer is NOW no matter what your age; if you start now, it will be easier as your life becomes more complex. (For a little encouragement not to procrastinate, see the article on getting A Round Tuit.) If you have ANY assets, you should at least write up a simple will and sign it in front of a notary public and a couple of witnesses. But there is other information you should collect. Here’s a starting list. It may seem daunting at first but if you get started now with just one item, you will eventually collect everything you need. Emergency contact info Last Will and Testament Durable Power of Attorney Living Will (dictating the kinds of heroic measures you would or would not like to be take for you) Health Care Power of Attorney Primary Doctor and other health care professionals Health/life insurance Donation of body/organs after death Immediate Action Steps after death Funeral/Burial plans/Obituary information Other notifications (work, school, clubs etc.) Investments and banking info Credit cards and outstanding loans Real Estate holdings and mortgages Life insurance/pensions Income tax info Passport/driver’s license and other certificates Family contact information Passwords (see Dr. Deb’s blog of Sept, 14, 2013) Inventory of valuables Contents of Safe box or location of critical information If the list seems overwhelming, just think of how confusing it would be for your family or friends to track down this information without you. If you are married, think about the peace of mind you would have knowing that if something would happen to your spouse, you would know what to do and where to find critical information. I would suggest beginning with things you already have such as credit card and bank information and collect it all in one place. The program I’m using to collect my passwords also has a place...

Contemplative Doodling...

What tools do you use to focus your mind and overcome adversities? Do you walk, pray, listen to music? Below is a guest article by my friend Shini Abraham. Shini has medical conditions that cause her to be in pain all the time. She has discovered that doodling is therapeutic and deeply spiritual; others are finding it helpful for their own...

Volunteer

It’s National Volunteer Week in the U.S. It is set aside to recognizing and inspire people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. “It’s about demonstrating that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.” So states the opening paragraph on the Points of Light website about the week. The week was established by American President Richard Nixon to highlight the importance of volunteerism in making society better. It’s a fact that many organizations could not even exist without volunteers. These include hospitals, soup kitchens, non-profits working to improve individual and corporate lives, neighborhood associations, relief and development organizations, and many, many more groups. In fact, volunteers are the most valuable resource many community and international non-profits have. Volunteerism is good for everyone. It helps people in need, builds community and improves the lives of real people. It also helps those who volunteer. It’s a great way to get your eyes off yourself and your problems, help you have unique experiences, build new friendships (and social skills), and gives you the satisfaction and fulfillment from doing something that matters. It can strengthen self-esteem and self-confidence, combat depression, and help you be physically fit. The truth is, THE WORLD NEEDS YOU. SO DOES YOUR NEIGHBOR AND YOUR COMMUNITY. Think you’re too busy? Think again. Don’t know where to start? There are multiple organizations in your area looking for help. There are thousands of websites with ideas on how to get started. There are probably millions of possibilities, from folding newsletters to babysitting to building houses to delivering meals. As retired surgeon Ben Carson said, “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we...

You Are Contagious

Most of the world has an identity that is tied to their group. Africans, Asians, Latinos and Middle Easterners have a sense of connection; they know they need each other, so effort is put to the common good. However, those of European descent tend to have a very individualistic view of life. Self-identity tends to be self-contained; we like our independence. Science is beginning to back up the non-Western view of life, that we are all connected in ways that we are only beginning to understand. I recently watched the documentary, I AM, that journals Tom Shadyac’s search for meaning. He is a successful filmmaker whose credits include Bruce Almighty, The Nutty Professor and Ace Ventura. After a head trauma that limited his his life, Shadyac set out to find true significance. In searching for what’s wrong with the world, he actually discovered much of what’s right. His film contains interviews with remarkable men and women who work in science, philosophy and faith (including Bishop Desmond Tutu). One unlikely finding is the extent to which we’re all connected. Really. You may think you’re an island, but you’re not. You are connected to other people, atoms, plants, people, and even yogurt. Yes, he showed one experiment that registered the effects of his thoughts and emotions on YOGURT! The thumbprint of a common designer is on everything in our world. And it seems to be our heart that drives us, not our brains. Did you know you have heart intelligence? Shadyac learned that cooperation, not competition, is in our DNA. And the world operates better when cooperation is in full-blown action. The film’s website says, “I AM shows consensus decision-making is the norm amongst many species, from insects and birds to deer and primates.  The film...

Going Green Mar14

Going Green

Everybody wants us to be green. What I found is that as I started to become green (environmentally responsible), I also got to keep more green (as in saving money)! All of the tips below are lifestyle changes I have personally made. They are both good for the environment and your...

Spiritual Adjustment

Self-reflection penitence are long-standing traditions in many faiths and cultures. There seems to be a common understanding that human beings are flawed and need periodic adjustments to live good and faithful lives. This week marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Lent includes the 47 days leading up to Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It is actually 40 days plus seven Sundays. (Remember that 40 is the number of days Jesus fasted and spent time in the dessert seeking God.) Other faiths have similar traditions. Muslims celebrate Ramadan, a month of fasting, charitable giving and prayer in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is also during this time that many make their pilgrimage to Mecca to participate in the Hajj, a trip every Muslim must make at least once during their lifetime. During the Hajj, Muslims engage in purification and unity. The Arabic word Tawbah literally means, “turning around.” In addition to celebrating Passover, Jews participate in the Days of Awe, ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is a time for serious reflection, a chance to consider the previous year, and to repent. The Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament) concept of repentance means to literally a 180-degree turn towards God. According to the website, Judaism 101, “Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.”* During Lent, many people (especially Catholics) give up something they enjoy, like sugar, alcohol or movies. These are types of fasts. Lent is not a time to prove to God that you love Him (or manipulate Him to love you–because She/He already does), rather it’s a time to reflect, search your soul, and make amends. If fasting is something that is meaningful to you, then do it. But more important is to reflect, pray, and perhaps engage in rituals (such as Lenten services). It might be a good time to go on a spiritual retreat. Take time. Find a resource that will be helpful for reflection and meditation. It’s good to take time to reconnect with your spiritual center, reflect on the past and renew your soul.   * http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday3.htm Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostration...

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Get Control Of Your Life! In that time we have posted 80 articles to help you succeed in your life. My guest writers and I care about you being healthy in every aspect of your life, including your career, health and fitness, money, relationships, spirituality, and most especially, personal development. I always have ideas for new articles running around in my head. I want to explore more personal development tools, like various the Myers-Briggs and Strengths Finder. I’m always on the lookout for fresh spiritual expressions, tips on having a healthy body, and suggestions for succeeding in vocation and relationships. The blog is not about quick fixes, so we avoid lists of surface tips. Instead, it’s about fostering and encouraging personal growth for a happy and fulfilling life. You can only give out as much as you’ve got. And each reader has incredibly profound contributions to make to the world. I want this site (and the upcoming podcast series) to be successful and beneficial. Which articles have you found the most helpful? What would you like to see addressed? What recommendations do you have for more resources? Please take a moment to make a brief comment on the site or Facebook page; your feedback is valued. It takes time to build an audience. In one year, we’ve only had 3248 visits by 1636 unique visitors. Because of budget constraints, a few bumper stickers, business cards and Facebook posts have been the totality of our promotional efforts. The site relies on word –of-mouth promotion by those who like it. What suggestions do you have to increase traffic? Make a great suggestion and you could win a prize!   Image by Michael Lorenzo; retrieved at...

Personal Checkup

How are you doing on your 2014 resolutions and goals?

The World Needs You

“You have something to give the world that no one else does.” That’s what I tell groups when I teach or give inspirational talks. “Our job is to figure out who we are and what IT is, then get on with it.” Unfortunately, we often get in the way of our own success. We have fears, insecurities, lack creative thinking, yada, yada, yada. We fail to see possibilities or look for opportunities. And then there’s that thing we have to deal with–CHANGE! How do you feel about change? Some people hate it; others thrive on it. Depending on our personality and experiences, we have varied levels of comfort with the “C” word. Some will avoid risk at almost any cost. They prefer every day to be similar and predictable. That’s ok. The world needs these faithful, reliable people. Others (like me) can’t stand any two days that are the same, and may even change the route going home just to mix things up. We love new things, new foods, new ideas and surprises. But it doesn’t mean we are always successful. Like it or not, change is part of life. And in a digital world going faster than we ever imagined, change is constant. I picked up a little book by Seth Godin, titled, Graceful: Making A Difference in a World That Needs You.  I got this little ebook for my Kindle for $2.51;  iTunes and Nook have it also. In case you’re not familiar with him, Seth Godin has written 12 best-selling books and blogs at http://sethgodin.typepad.com. I mentioned his book, The Dip, in my article, I Quit. In this quick read, Godin lays out 30 ideas for making a difference in the world. He discusses grace, a character attribute in short supply,...

How Costco Is Making Me Healthier...

We’re always being told we need to eat better. At least in America. 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (F&V) sounds like a lot! At least that’s what I thought before. I used to go into the regular grocery store, look at the fresh produce (and the prices), and leave with very little in my basket. It was just easier to heat up frozen dinners and go through the burger drive through. Then I realized my assets were growing. Not the financial kind–the physical kind. Then I became a Costco member. For those of you who don’t know, Costco is a members-only warehouse club where you can purchase in bulk. So why would a single person ever shop there? Part of the Costco success story is the lack of variety. That’s right. Where other stores brag they have 49 varieties of catsup, Costco has one. So when you shop there, you don’t have to waste a lot of mental energy trying to decide which brand to buy or which is the best deal. Costco only stocks quality products, and all their prices are great. The other thing is that items come in quantity. So when you buy cheese or spinach or crackers, you have enough to last awhile. I buy carrots in 10-pound bags. They are in my fridge a long time, but they last forever and are there to be eaten regularly! I buy frozen blueberries, mixed berries, or sometimes cherries, then make smoothies every morning for breakfast. I also add bananas, that I buy  in 3-pound bags from Costco and flash freeze after peeling and freezer store in bags. All I have to add is orange juice (also from Costco) and protein powder (from my local health food store) and blend it all...

Overcoming Adversity

This is a video story about two things: Overcoming adversity and making a difference. Zach is the 11-year-old son of some friends. He suffers from several disorders including Aspergers Syndrome, dyslexia and ADHD. His service dog, Clyde, is his helper. So is Chris. Zach and his parents have had much to overcome. Life was very difficult for Zach; but as a family, they pressed forward till they found answers. Chris is the prison inmate who trained, Clyde the service dog. He turned his life around and is doing so for others. Watch this inspiring video. If these folks can overcome adversity, so can you!...

Roles

We all have to fit into various roles in our families, careers and life. Here is an article about adjusting and making roles fit you rather just making you fit roles. It is written by Shan Moore. Motherhood is accepted as one of life’s most fulfilling and enriching experiences. We are told over and over again that the day you meet the little life you created, your heart will be overwhelmed with a love so deep, it even exceeds what you feel for your significant other. There is some truth to this. HOWEVER, what we aren’t told is that the authentic, deep love you feel for your newborn will consist of two equal parts; 1) adoration and 2) being scared sh*tless. My first pregnancy was three years ago. I was 28 and couldn’t imagine feeling any less equipped. I remember weeks of random, senseless crying and nighttime bouts of loneliness and fear. “Is an 8-pound child really going to successfully plow through my pelvis?!” These were troubles that I was sure—a self-confident, happily married woman—should NOT be facing. How do other women go through with this and not completely fall apart inside? The formula, I thought, was after you’ve had your share of dancing on the bar for tequila shots, been married for 5 years, and traveled the world, you’d be ready. Right? I did my best at blaming all my insecurities and withdrawn behavior on hormones. But how could this experience be so far off from the tender bliss of motherhood I’d heard all about? The problem was, I’d allowed my peers, society, and silly ideals to determine my expectations for this life-changing event. Life can be like that. People expect us to behave in certain ways. And sometimes we don’t fit the...

Choices

Not all choices are equal. There are choices and there are CHOICES! This article concerns the choices behind the choices, or what the business world calls strategic decisions and operational decisions. Many people fail or fall victim to circumstances because they end up making a strategic decision when an operational decision is called for. Teenage pregnancy is a prime example. When we fail to make a good strategic decision, we make bad operational decisions. For example: I don’t feel like going to the gym. That is an operational decision for the moment. However, if I have made a strategic decision to be in good physical shape and/or be at a healthy weight, the current decision is hopefully an exceptional operational decision, not a permanent one. So I will go to the gym tomorrow. The problem is that we often over-rely on operational decisions—how I feel at the moment—to ultimately make our strategic decisions. Then life pushes us around instead of us pushing life. If I make the decision to come home and drink beer and eat chips instead of going to the gym—day after day—I have ultimately made a strategic decision to be a beer-drinking, chip-eating (and likely overweight TV-watcher) instead of a disciplined healthy person. I just listened to an important book, The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business. The book gets into how and why we make choices. Some things we do by remote (habit), like shifting a manual car, turning right when we enter a grocery store, or eating that cookie at 3 every afternoon. We CAN actually form new habits. I cchose (and I choose) to be healthy, so I can’t succumb to the routine mentioned above everyday. By exercising my will power...

Change

It’s a word that excites some of us, and scares some of us. Whether you like it or not, change happens; it’s an inevitable part of life. As we begin a new year, many are reconsidering how to make some changes. Stores are full of vitamins and exercise equipment, playing on the fact that a lot of people know they need to take better care of themselves. Shops are also full of plastic bins to help us get organized, books to help us grow, and clothes to help us look better. But we all know that true change happens from the inside out. Even though we get tied up with the mundane and stressful details of life, like running the kids around, taking care of the home, working, etc., there is something deep down that wants to make a difference. How does change happen? I will be writing soon about changing our personal habits. In an attempt to get some of the focus off of ourselves—which is always a good thing—I want to share the lyrics for one of the most profound pop songs I’ve ever heard. Man in the Mirror (written by Glen Ballard and Seidah Garrett) was a huge hit by Michael Jackson. How do we change the world? It starts by changing ourselves. “I’m Gonna Make A Change, For Once In My Life It’s Gonna Feel Real Good, Gonna Make A Difference Gonna Make It Right . . .   “As I, Turn Up The Collar On My Favorite Winter Coat This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind I See The Kids In The Street, With Not Enough To Eat Who Am I, To Be Blind? Pretending Not To See Their Needs A Summer’s Disregard, A Broken Bottle Top And A One Man’s...

Jesus By GPS

The Christmas story includes the tale of wise men who took cues from the stars and went seeking for the Christchild. Here is a short animation made by some friends of mine that tells the Christmas story with a cute and modern twist.

Forgiveness

During the Christmas holidays, many of us spend extra time with friends and family. Sometimes we get offended. How do we respond? This is a timely post by Renee Pomarico, a Catholic missionary living in Mexico. Renee has BA in Education and Development from Anahuac University, as well as a Licentiate in Religious Sciences from Regina Apostolorum in Rome. She works with young women who are discerning a vocation to religious life. No matter the particular circumstance, we all face situations where we need to forgive. A spouse backs out of a commitment, a son or daughter lacks respect, a friend stabs us in the back, a brother shames the family, a coworker offends us, or a parent isn’t there when we need them. Forgiveness is more than words like, “I’m sorry,” “I apologize,” and “Will you forgive me?” Forgiveness is an attitude of the heart. Immaculée Ilibagiza suffered torment and three months trapped in bathroom with nine other women during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Immaculée shared that she could not pray the part of the Lord’s prayer that reads “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us,” because she could not really do it in her heart. Yet, she knew deep down that God wanted her to forgive. Immaculée’s prayer became one of asking God for the grace of forgiveness and when He changed her heart, she was able to forgive from within. Words are meaningless if resentment remains. Mother Teresa said, “If we admit that we are sinners and we need forgiveness, then it will be very easy for us to forgive others. But if we don’t admit this, it will be very hard for us to say, ‘I forgive you’ no matter who comes to us. Jesus...

Self-Esteem

by Daniel Jernejcic Daniel was a student in one of interpersonal communication classes. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that makes it challenging for him to concentrate, remember, socialize and communicate. Daniel is very bright. But because of his disorder, he often feels like a failure. His final project was this presentation on self-esteem. Here’s to all the Daniels of the world and all of us who struggle with a healthy personal perspective. Self-esteem refers to a person’s belief in themselves. High self-esteem is the ideal frame of mind a person needs to be happy. Having good self-esteem gives you more energy and makes you more productive in all matters, not just involving work, but in all facets of life. Good self-esteem allows you to do things you thought were impossible. There are many ways to raise your self-esteem. Taking pride in your personal appearance is one way. For instance, you can work out at home or at a gym. Another way is to take part in an activity or activities you know you’re good at. Poor self-esteem can lead to many problems, such as depression, inactivity, or even suicidal thoughts. Self-destructive thoughts are the killer of good self-esteem, and the first step to counteracting them is to be conscious of when they are happening. The first manifestations often come in the form of tearing yourself down—thoughts like, “you’re worthless,” or “you’re simply not good enough.” Comedian Christopher Titus once referred to that voice as, “your inner idiot.” It’s a voice that contradicts every good thought you think of yourself. When you find yourself thinking something good about yourself, pay attention for signs of follow-up thoughts that negatively contradict it. It’s important to quickly counter self-destructive thoughts. One way is to immediately counter it...

Best Exercise Ever!

We all know we’re supposed to get physical exercise. Just spend time with older people who eat poorly and never met an exercise they liked, and you should get a glimpse into what you’ll look like in a few years.

Stop The World

When life gets really crazy I’ve been known to say “Stop the world, I want to get off!” But it seems the spin just keeps going. How can we take the time to slow things down and get ourselves “centered” so that we can respond with grace and wisdom rather than reacting to each circumstance? I’ve been practicing a simple discipline called centering prayer or mindfulness meditation. This is an ancient practice used by the mystics and others perhaps growing out of an ancient challenge to, “Be still and know that I am God.” The goal is to ‘still’ our over active mind and emotions, to step off the spinning merry-go-round for a few minutes a day and simply BE.  Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? There are many techniques used to help stop the spin. The most common is to sit quietly and comfortably and draw all you attention to your breath, breathing in and out in a slow measured pace. I add a simple ‘breath prayer’ or mantra that fits well with one cycle of breathing. Some advocate using something that does not carry deep meaning because our mind will start thinking about the meaning instead of being still, so “ooommm” is often used.  I have chosen “Grace” for my intake breath and “Peace” for my breath out. On a recent episode of his television show, Dr Phil told a guest that if you are feeling anxious, simply taking a few minutes to measure your breaths equally in and out, will calm anxiety. From there (as a beginner to this process) I imagine myself sitting in my happy place, a place of peace and quiet. I try to be fully present in my body. Inevitably my mind wonders to the cares of the day...

Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On You...

I re-read the biblical passage in 1 Timothy 4:12 a few days ago: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”* I live in North America where we celebrate youth. We almost worship them. Advertisers cater to young people, cosmetic giants spend billions developing and selling facial creams and hair dye to make people younger. We even joke about staying 29 forever. This is in sharp contrast to many cultures that value age and experience. Wherever you go, somebody is going to look down on you. Fill in the blank: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are _____________________________. What is it for you? Old? Black? Oriental? Southerner? Gay? Female? Male? White? Toothless? Uneducated? Educated? Geeky? Technophobe? Unattractive? Fat? Skinny? Tall? Short? Muslim? Manager? Working class? Rich? What might it mean to not  let anyone look down on you? Would wisdom say this is primarily an internal or external response? If it were an external response, it would mean lashing out and fighting back. I might disrespect the other, score some verbal points or look down on others by treating them with contempt. Well those don’t help, now do they? In my college interpersonal class, we’re studying appropriate emotional responses; trying to get even is not one of the principles for successful communication or relationships. I think wisdom says the response is internal. How do you see yourself? Do you look down on yourself? You will live your life by the script in your head. I used to visit the Home Depot improvement store and feel intimidated by all the men. But after years of working on my home AND dealing...

Vulnerability

In addition to sharing thoughts with you, I like to share resources that I find to be helpful. Here is a video on The Power of Vulnerability by Sociologist Brené Brown. It’s 20-minutes, so you’ll need some time. Take it; I think you’ll be glad you...

Ordinary Superheroes

Let’s face it, the world is looking for heroes. Just think of the movies and TV shows released in the last few years with names like Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Superman, Iron Man, and The Avengers. These superheroes do extraordinary things that go above and beyond the capabilities of “normal” humans. They are usually a select few who were born that way (like Superman), or they were once ordinary people who, through some accident or another (Spiderman was bitten by a spider), gaining some sort of super power. TV and movies are also full of real-life stories of people doing extraordinary (occasionally even superhuman) things. We honor these people, and rightly so, but what about the rest of us “ordinary” people? Is our only role that of the adulate spectator? Or do we have more in us? I believe each one of us can be that “ordinary superhero” the world yearns for. God has placed seeds of greatness in everyone. These are desires, ideas, things, that when grown to fullness, might just change the world! Some of us have nurtured these things in our hearts since we were little children. Others see a great need and rise to the occasion; they have an epiphany, see what needs to be done and rally others to help. I liken this type of inspiration to the relationship between a parent and his child. It’s a parent’s job to tell their kids what to do. But what a joy when your child takes some initiative and just picks up after themselves on their own… without being told! Even better, when they decide to do it for someone else—like their sibling! KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER! I think God intends us to be co-creators with Him. It’s a two-way street. If...

Top 10-#10 Truth Is Truth No Matter Where You Find It...

Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Augustine said, “Truth is truth, no matter where you find it.” Well I thought he said it, but now I can’t find it. Nobody has a corner on the truth. We think we do, which is why we are so often willing to die for it. The problem with thinking we alone have the truth is that it can’t possibly be true. We all have limited perspective and experience. We can’t possibly know everything. This is humility. As a Christ-follower, I believe truth is found in nature, in the bible and in my conscience. I also think it’s found in paintings, great music, and pithy statements by people of insight. It’s found in pain, experience and wisdom. God likely speaks to you in many ways. Or maybe you don’t think there is a God or gods or anything bigger than you. Maybe you don’t even believe in truth. But I think you resonate with things that ring true, like justice, well-fed kids, spring flowers, stunning sunsets and freshly fallen snow. English author Algernon Blackwood (who died in 1951) wrote, “Let each philosophy, each world-view bring forth its truth and beauty to a larger perspective, that people may grow in vision, stature and dedication.” A guy named John once quoted Jesus as saying, “Know the truth and it will set you free. “ – (John 8:32) Look for it and you will find it. Truth is truth, no matter where you find it....

Top 10-#9 People Are Irreplaceable...

When you enter or leave a room, the room is different. That’s because you bring things no one else can bring. You bring the totality of who you are to every situation: your history, personality, gifts, passions, spirit–everything! You communicate you, and you do it all the time. In our business world of hiring and firing, one can get the impression that just any body will do. But’s it’s just not true. When you fill a position, you fill it like no other. And when you leave, your position really goes with you. Nobody will ever do the job like you do it. There may be close to 7 billion people in the world. But each one is incredibly valuable and unique. No one will ever take your place. You bring something to the world that no one else brings. That’s why figuring out who you are and what you bring are so important. If you don’t bring who you are and give the gifts only you can give, the world will miss out. That’s because you are irreplaceable.   The photo is of my dad, Marv Buenting, known to his grandchildren as,...