April, 2010


29
Apr 10

The Event

Howdy.  Good to see you again.

Last Monday I talked about pushing yourself to try something a little different.  It doesn’t have to be anything exotic just be creative and try some new things.  They make great memories.

I mentioned that I would share something creative I did with some friends the other evening.  It was a great time.

Side Note: Well, I have really set myself up.  I have built this up and after you read about our adventure you’ll probably say… “Wow, if that’s an adventure to them they must have a really boring life.”  Probably so, but it really got some of my friends out of their comfort zone.

The Event

I have included the details in case you want to try it with a group of friends.  You can do this with most any number but there were a total of four couples in our group.

I love the show “Top Chef” so I put together this activity.

We invited the three other couples over and of course they asked what they could bring.  We told them that we had everything arranged for dinner but that we were going to play a game and we needed them to bring twenty dollars in five dollar bills per couple.

Here are the steps for your own adventure:

  1. Randomly create teams of two (we drew colored poker chips from a bag)
  2. Each twosome name their team
  3. Randomly draw what course of the meal they will prepare.  We had four courses of salad, side dish, main course and dessert.
  4. Each team selects a sealed envelope with money for their course.  We had increments of $10, $15, $20, and $25.
  5. Each team was told they could use any food in the house and spices.  Everything else they needed came from their money.
  6. Every team then had 45 minutes to go shop for their food and be back to the kitchen.

When I started explaining the evening activity I got a little nervous because some of the people didn’t look too excited but I just continued with the instructions.

When I finished the instructions the group exploded with activity.  The shopping and preparing were wonderfully wild.

The dinner was outstanding.  The two guys who can’t cook were fortunate to get the salad course and $25 (and they still went over budget… go figure).  The main course was amazing on a $15 budget.

Although the food was great, the best part of the evening was the laughing, joking, and swapping stories from our individual adventures.

At the end of the meal I had created a little scoring sheet where each team was scored on a scale from one to five (five being excellent) in three categories.  The categories were taste, presentation and creativity (teams could not rate themselves).

The winning team won $10 to split between the members.

This evening was a memory maker.  We could have had a dinner party as we usually do and had a wonderful time… but not a memory maker.  Thankfully I took a risk and put a little effort into planning the evening.

Taking a little risk made all the difference.

I encourage you to dream up your own adventure.

See you Monday.


26
Apr 10

Making A Memory

Aloha.  No… I’m not in Hawaii.  “Aloha” just popped in my head so I said it.  It’s probably obvious by now that weird things pop in my head and I just go with it.

I have had the privilege to travel several places, two of which are Hawaii and Wales.

Side Note: Yes, I know that this is a weird comparison but stick with me and you will see that it comes to a remarkably meaningless point.  (just kidding… just kidding)

My wife and I visited Hawaii first and then a few years later to Wales.  The native language of both is remarkable, and they are especially interesting when compared side by side.  Here is a representative example of the two languages in comparing the names of two towns… Kealakekua, Hawaii and Pwllgwyngyll, Wales.  My wife said she thought that Hawaii should share some of their vowels with Wales.

This a small weird example but that’s the excitement and joy of going to new places… the thrill of experiencing something different and finding quirky things.

The example may be travel but there’s a principle here that is important for all of us who desire to grow and learn.  Being willing to try new things and go to new places is the cornerstone.  This does not mean traveling to exotic places or doing expensive stuff.  It is just stepping beyond our circle of comfort.

It is important to point out that sameness and constancy is not a bad thing.  There is a very important place for this.  Sameness and constancy provide a stabilizer in a very turbulent chaotic world.  But if not careful, these stabilizing elements subtly sedate and we are slowly absorbed into complacency.  And we drone along in life missing multitudes of simple joys that are just outside arms reach because our fingers are comfortably clasped resting on our tummy.

An analogy that fits my thinking is this, sameness and constancy is kinda like the prairie land mass and the different and quirky are the mountains and valleys.  I personally believe that you need both in proper levels to experience life’s fullness.

But it’s the different and quirky experiences that provide dimension and texture to life and it is these that create the memories.

So as you know (if you have been hanging out with me on this blog for any length of time), I like to try different things.  Well… I want to share something that me and some friends did the other evening that was great fun, somewhat quirky (not kinky) and very entertaining.

And yes… because a risk was taken, this activity created a memory that we will share and talk about for years.

So join me Thursday for the details.  It may be something you would like to try.

Aloha!

Weird Side Note: Aloha… Hello and good-bye.  Pretty cool word, or were they just being lazy?


23
Apr 10

Jumpin’ In Head First

Some people are “risk takers”.  I’m pretty good at taking risks overall.  I don’t bungee jump but I do drive fast (according to my wife) and I enjoy doing different things.

There are risks… then there are RISKS.  And these vary from one to another.  What may be a big “R” risk to you may not be anything to me, and visa versa.

But I took a big “R” risk today.  It wouldn’t be for a lot of people but for me it was a RISK.

I just spent time re-reading some of my writings from the past few months.  Just as one sweeps their arm across a cluttered surface to remove debris, I had to do this before I started to read.

The debris I had to sweep to the side was my insecurity about writing and the embarrassment of awkward wording and bad grammar.  But once I brushed those aside I was pleased to find some nuggets of thought and the occasional sparkle of a well turned phrase.

I don’t know if anyone else likes it… but I did.  And that’s the important thing.

Side Note:  Just the above statement alone is a fairly significant step for me on this journey up the mountain.  In the not too distant past I would have never admitted that I thought what I wrote was any good.

Once again I must keep in the forefront of my mind that writing is not for anyone else but me.  But even with this fresh in my thinking the slimy arm of inferiority begins to reach from its shallow grave and try to capture me in its grasp once again.

The moment I try to write to appeal to others… the self is lost.  One loses themselves when trying to be accepted by others.

Personally, this is one entry that I hope not many people read because it makes me feel so exposed.  But… if you happened to have read to this point (thank a teacher).  Sorry for the poor attempt to lighten the moment.

But if you have read this far, I have to ask you a question.  What have you tried to bury but keeps re-emerging from its shallow grave?

I tend to believe that everyone has a makeshift burial ground close by where dead things are buried out of sight.

There, some things are legitimately dead… these are things that have been put in their place and possess no life to re-emerge to haunt us.

Other things are crafty, they pretend to be dead but wait for the moment to reach out and grab us when we least expect it or when we are vulnerable.

The most dangerous are those we naively pretend to be dead with the belief that doing so will remedy the issue.

There is a difference between pretending something is not there and ignoring it.

Pretending is the denial of reality and hoping that when you open your eyes again it will have disappeared.

Ignoring is intentional and strategic.  You know full well the presence of the issue but a decision is made to destroy by neglect.  You decide not to focus energy on the issue.  Putting energy toward something feeds it… positive or negative.

So I have decided to just ignore the old feelings that try to trap.

See you Monday.


19
Apr 10

Hidden Surprise

Hi there, welcome back.

It’s a good day to be on our journey.

One thing I love about this life journey we travel, are the surprises.  If you are open and on the look-out, you’ll see things others miss.

Side Note: Have you ever seen a photograph of something simple and ordinary that was transformed into a work of beauty.  The eye of the photo artist saw something that we did not see.

They took the picture and with a little cropping away of the portions that distract, they captured the center-point of beauty.  And we, the casual on looker, now enjoy the beauty only because the cluttered distractions are removed.

I want to be one who finds amazing things in what seems to be an ordinary day.  First of all, we have to realize that no day is ordinary and secondly that there actually exists the extraordinary amidst the clutter of life.

Today is a good day.  It’s not that I feel particularly good or happy.  I just happen to see a jewel in the clutter.

A friend of mine was in South Carolina all last week attending the funeral of her Aunt Georgia.  It was a time of celebrating a life well lived and reconnecting with extended family.

In the usual chit chat of talking about the funeral and reconnecting with the family I was shown the program of the funeral and the life of Mrs. Georgia.  The program had the typical things but it was there I found my jewel.

The family included sections I had never seen before in a funeral program.  The sections were…  Mrs. Georgia’s Memorable Phrases, Her Passions, and Her Lessons for Life.

I love homespun wisdom.  The profound is in the simple.

Sadly, homespun wisdom is being lost.  We live in a day and time of being bombarded with hype and glitz.  All the media phrases are focus group tested, polished perfect and spun with exacting precision.

But then you have someone like Mrs. Georgia who crossed my path via a funeral program.  Little did she know that one of her simple phrases of life would catch my eye and validate my desired approach to life.

Apparently she would say this phrase to her kids when they were considering life options.

“Go on until your road ends”

- Mrs. Georgia Etta Jones Wharton (1926-2010)

Simple, succinct and right on.  In six words there is a powerful message for each of us.

“Go” – be active, don’t sit on side of the road watching life go by

“Your road” – each of us has their own road to travel

“Ends” – our roads may be different length

I would hate to think that at my death I had more road to travel.  I want to travel light and travel well.

On my road today I found a jewel.  It has been a good day of traveling.

See you Thursday.


15
Apr 10

Stayin’ Alive

Hi. 

Are you new to my blog journey or are you an old friend?  I can’t tell who you are or how many times you have visited.  I just know how many visitors I have on any given day. 

I kind of like the anonymity.  It keeps me from getting nervous.  For all I know you could be Oprah, Joe the Plumber or Lady GaGa.  Or you could be a person like myself that is remarkably ordinary, enjoys the journey of life, and likes to know how other people see the world.

I have become more and more fascinated with life, people, and nature.  Something continues to be awakened.  In the early blogs I talked about a stirring within.  There is something inside pushing at the confines testing the potential of release.  Sort of like one of those street mimes who silently and methodically work their hands around the invisible box. 

It is not a negative feeling at all.  In fact it is joyous.  Movement indicates life, and new life always brings joy. 

That’s why I am pumped at having a blog.  It is not because I think it’s cool, but because this blog was the eventual manifestation of one of those invisible rumblings. 

Side Note:  Sometimes life can become so rhythmic that the repetitive cadence creates a comfortable stupor.  The essentials of life continue to progress with their defined routine.  Nothing is bad, nothing is wrong, nothing is happening, nothing….

Please don’t get me wrong.  Having routine in life is normal and appropriate.  Nor am not talking about thrill seeking, or doing something dramatic just because you feel bored.  (Jesse… what were you thinking?  Poor Sandra and the kids have to live with the pain of your need to be a thrill seeker.  Not cool!)

 

I believe there is a continuous call for us to awaken from our stupor.  A Divine tap on the shoulder that is trying to get our attention to realize the dormant seeds inside that just need a little tending. 

What are the things we can do to awaken the dormant seed?  Simple, take a lesson our childhood.  Three simple words stop, drop and roll.  Uh… oops!  My mistake.  That’s what you do when you’re on fire. 

Let’s try again.  How about stop, look and listen (yep, that’s better)?  I know that’s what we were taught about crossing the street but it applies to this.

Stop:  Anytime… just stop… pause long enough to disrupt the cadence of the moment.

Look:  Slowly look around and see something simple and seemingly ordinary that may catch your eye.

Listen:  Literally say a quick statement (for me it is a prayer)  “Help me to hear what I need to hear.”  Then open your heart and mind and tune your ears to hear something audibly or internally. 

Now do it.  Seriously.   I’ll wait.  Take a moment. 

I have no question that sometime this week you will think of Stop, Look and Listen.  If you do, take it seriously and do it.  Now it may take a couple of weeks but I guarantee that a dormant seed will begin stirring.  We will talk about how you nurture it at another time. 

Enjoy life.  See you Monday.


12
Apr 10

Snake Bite

Well, I guess it’s time to get moving again.  Every now and then you need to stop and just hang out and talk but now back to the task at hand, climbing the mountain.

As most of you know this is a journey that I started January 4th of this year.  It has been rewarding and pretty interesting.  I have gotten all kinds of responses, most of which have been very supportive and individuals happy to cheer me on.  I thank all of you who have encouraged me along the way.

I have not had anyone discourage me but I have had others who look at me with a vacant stare and slowly nod politely with a… “That’s nice.”  All the while their head continues to slowly nod in a mechanical motion and you can see in their eyes… “Why in the world would anyone want to do that?”  But once again I can’t pay any attention to their non-interest.

I think I am beginning to get a handle on this “not worrying what people think thing” and glibly make a statement about not paying attention to people’s non-interest… then I am quickly body slammed to the mat by reality.

Let me explain what I mean.  Something very interesting occurred about two weeks ago.  A friend showed me the web statistics section in the behind-the-scenes portion of my blog site.  I am not a techy person so this was new territory.  This statistics section reveals all kinds of data but in particular the number of visits I get on the blog.

Interesting Statistics (to me anyway):

  • This blog has had over 7,000 hits since January 1st.
  • Averages about 500 per week
  • 39 different countries (mostly hackers probably – 4 from China)

True Confession: Of the 7,000+ hits, I am probably 1,000 of them.  The first few weeks I checked in all the time.

Now I have a new dilemma.  I have enough ego and competition in me to cause me some trouble.  I catch myself checking all too often to see how many hits I am getting.  This is not a good thing.  It causes me to think too much.

Yep… you guessed it… it plays right into my need to please people and have people’s approval.

But here’s the learning that applies to us all.  We embark on these personal journeys and make real progress.  But whatever we struggled with has a way of sneaking in and catching our attention at the most unexpected times.  It’s kinda like someone you broke up with and you end up regularly seeing them in the background with that Fatal Attraction look.

It’s frustrating but that’s just part of the process.  The spurned object of our former devotion does not exist without us.  It needs us for existence.  So it keeps showing up in a new way, trying to recapture our time, energy and devotion.

“New level, new devil.”

- Joyce Meyer

What ever we struggle with will show up in different ways to catch us unaware or just waits until we let down our guard or our resolve.

So we keep trekking up this mountain enjoying the company, enjoying the new scenery and keeping watch for those snakes that hide waiting for the right moment to bite.

Let’s face it, if you are an explorer you will get bitten.  Here’s the good news, you will never die from the bite.  You only die if you panic and run away… running pumps the poison to the heart.

You must calmly remove the snake, release the poison, realize that this is part of the process, and continue.

So I continue… with a limp and patched up ankle.

See ya Thursday.


8
Apr 10

A Seed of Truth

I know some of you are itching to get back on the trail climbing the mountain.  The last few entries have been a break from traveling.  It was kinda like we were sitting around a camp fire swapping stories and philosophizing about life.

Don’t worry, we’ll hit the trail again next Monday and continue our madcap adventure up the mountain.

But for now I need to complete my thoughts about Truth.  And today’s topic is important because it’s the miracle part of Truth.

If you remember, I started talking about Truth because of a thought provoking comment by Kathy.

Excerpt from Kathy’s Comment:

I get grabbed by something that is true and then I belong to it. Change inside of me happens almost automatically. Why do you think it happens that way? Do you think that is the way it is with all truth–scientific truth–or discover in historical facts? or is it just with spiritual truth?

We have talked about the power of Truth… Truth Transforms. It is truly miraculous.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog I believe all aspects of Truth (natural, scientific and Spiritual) comes from God.  They are all intertwined building upon and supporting one another.

Truth Caveat: Well… there are some truths that don’t exactly fit into the God quotient.  Things like. Mike Brown will never hire a GM for the Cincinnati Bengals, the Chicago Cubs never making it to a World Series and Jessica Simpson having no talent.

Now I’ve really done it.  I have made all of the Jessica Simpson fans angry… both of them.

The metaphor that best captures Truth’s miraculous transforming power for me is that of a seed in the ground.

The ground receives the seed.  The seed may be forced by hand into the ground but at some point the soil must embrace it thus allowing the course of nature to occur.

Truth must be received… we must take it in.  We may not fully understand or be totally comfortable with its presence but we consent to the process.  Rejection of the seed terminates transformation.

We are responsible to be faithful to the process.  We cannot make it happen… we allow it to happen.  We provide the environment that is conducive for growth and provide the right nutrients.  We guard against contamination and critters that want to destroy.

Transformation requires diligent patience.

If not careful we can hinder growth.  We tend to be impatient and want to dig up the seed to check to see if it is sprouting.  This is the faith part… trusting the process.

Hopefully you have been sprinkled with a lot of Truth seeds lately.  Just receive them and allow them to sink in.  Be open to the invisible process of transformation that works from the inside out.

So I sit, typing away knowing that seeds of Truth are moving around inside (it could be the chili I ate last night… nope… its Truth I can tell the difference).

It is grand to suddenly see the transformation begin surface.  Really grand.

Later… Monday!


5
Apr 10

Scalpel or Hammer

Hello, I hope you had a very great weekend.

I am back on this Truth thing again today.  This topic seems to continue to grow.  I was planning to talk about how Truth transforms but I still have some things bubbling around inside about how Truth informs (you will need to read the last couple of blogs to really get a feel for what I am sorting through).

As I said, Truth is all around and continually bumping into us trying to get our attention.  It’s kind of like a thirteen year old girl who seems to “accidently” show up the same places of the boy she likes and is constantly trying to catch his eye.  He of course is daft and oblivious to her cues.

Truth pursues us and is constantly trying to catch our eye.  Unless we are looking for the cues we too stroll along missing the opportunity of a lifetime.

Truth wants our attention and sometimes the vehicle for Truth is another person.  Personally I don’t like it much when another person is involved.  People make things messy.

I would rather have circumstances teach me my lessons not people.  This is by far the best Truth delivery process for me personally.  With my finely honed awareness and keen insights, people pointing things out in me are not necessary… AT ALL.  Well, at least I don’t think so.

As I said earlier, people make things messy.  Circumstances don’t make judgments and they don’t argue.  There are no ulterior motives, emotional baggage, or sensitivities that need to be navigated.

Truth has power, tremendous power.  And Truth in the hands of another person is a scary proposition.

The problem is, people intuitively know the power of Truth and in the wrong hands truth is used to hurt vs. heal.

“I never gave anyone hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.”

- Harry Truman

Truth in the right hands is amazingly beautiful and powerful.  Truth pierces, it is surgical.  It may not be comfortable but it brings healing and produces freedom.

In hands of people with a wrong motive, Truth becomes a blunt instrument inflicting head or heart trauma.  This of course produces more injury and adds another stone to the bag of rocks we all carry (3/4/10 blog).  What the person is saying may have the core of Truth.  But it is lost in the clutter of motives and the noise of emotion.

Have you ever known someone who felt it was their duty to set people straight?    They project the notion that they are to be the messenger of fact and are obligated to make sure you know where you fall short.

Here is a very Important Point:  It is never our role to set people straight.

It is important to remember, we cannot transform others.  No matter how much we want to change a person we cannot.  In fact, us trying to change a person builds resistance.

There is no question that there are times when we are called to share truth.  It may be uncomfortable for the other person and difficult for us.  It is not easy offering a gift knowing that rejection is likely.

But love gives.  There is beauty and power in Truth purely offered, centered in love.  A gift of Truth given with no expectations… just given knowing that at some time the other person will open their hand and receive.

This is where the miracle occurs.  Truth transforms.

I don’t want to get into this now because this is what I will spend some time talking about in Thursday’s blog.

See you then.


1
Apr 10

Trick-or-Truth

Hello.  Welcome back.

This blog thing is getting pretty draining.  I think I will give it up.

Psyche!  April Fool’s.

I know, I know… pretty childish.  Just messin with you.  I better not get too spunky, some of you may actually be bummed that I plan to continue to write.  Oh well.  I think it best I move on before I dig this hole any deeper.

In the last blog I started to respond to a comment made by Kathy.  I touched on the topic of Truth.  I mentioned that I believe there is Truth and there are truths.

Note to all of my non-Christ follower friends:  This is a topic that will definitely have some spiritual context.  I am not expecting for you to believe like I do but I do hope that I share some things that may cause you to think.

I would really like to have your thoughts and comments because I am open to have my thinking stirred also.  So please share your perspective.  Once again, don’t worry, I won’t get preachy on you.

Just so you know, I believe that all truth comes from a single source… God.

There are two distinguishing characteristics of Truth that I would like to poke around on for a bit.  They are, Truth Informs and Transforms.  I plan on talking about how Truth Transforms in the next blog on Monday but for today I will tackle Informs.

Honest Confession: I used the word “Informs” because it had a nice ring when partnered with “Transforms”.

Yes it is shallow and self serving but you gotta admit… the words do sound good together (Sort of like Captain and Tannille, Sunny and Cher or Pebbles and Bam Bam).

Although the word “Inform” is somewhat descriptive it is much too mundane and vanilla for the weight and significance it carries.  There is nothing mundane or vanilla about Truth.

What I mean by Informs is that Truth has a way of quietly piercing the clutter to let us know that we are nearing something of substance and significance.  There is a weighty awareness about the situation we’re in or a thought about something we are mulling over that stills us with… “there is something big here that is deserving of my attention.”

I tried to come up with an example but I found it extremely difficult.  I could not articulate anything that even comes close to the point I am trying to make.

It dawned on me that this is the nature of Truth.  You can’t wrap your mind around it in total.  These encounters provide a small pin hole, a glimpse, of Truth.  As you go through life these small pin holes begin to form a picture, a sense of Who and what Truth is all about.

I believe that Truth is constantly being revealed but we are unaware or blind.  One has to be open and ready, expecting something at any time.  This is not a burdensome duty of being on the “look out” but a childlike anticipation and excitement of discovery at any moment.

In our small community we have neighborhood parades on Memorial Day and Labor Day.  About 9:45 in the morning the homes on each street begin sporadically burping up people to make their way to the parade route.

The children are the most fun to watch.  They are animated, alert and fidgety with excitement.  Even before you hear the siren of the lead police car there is a groundswell of energy that clearly announces that something is about to happen.  The kids start leaning out toward the street, stretching their necks and poking their heads over each other to be the first to get a glimpse of the flashing blue light that proclaiming the reality of something special.

This is the way I want to be in looking for Truth.  A childlike excitement and joy.

Truth is amazing.

See you Monday.