November, 2011


28
Nov 11

God Alert

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Hi Good to see you again.

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I don’t talk about God that much.

And whenever I do to talk about God or Jesus I always let you know ahead of time.

So, as you can see from the title, I will talk about God stuff.  I had a Spiritual “ah ha” recently that has stayed with me and I feel I am to share it with my friends.

For my non-believer friends, don’t worry that I’m not going to preach at you.  No way.

As always, I don’t expect you to believe the way I do.  It’s not my job to convince you to think or believe something.

I do believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to share insights and opinions that cause each other to stop and ask important questions.  The important thing is that we (including myself) must be open to hearing and exploring.

The Story

A while back I was in a business setting and saw a person that I had met a couple of times before in a social setting.

I wouldn’t categorize her as a friend… just an acquaintance.

The first time I met this person she was with her husband and bouncing along side of her was her five year old daughter.

The daughter was one of those little girls with a BIG personality.  The daughter was cute, bright, verbal, engaging, and fun.

So during the business encounter we greeted each other and since I didn’t know the person too well I immediately asked the most obvious question.

“How’s your little girl?”

I know that I can’t do it justice, but I will try to capture the mother’s response and then how it impacted me.

A Mother’s Response

When I asked about her daughter the mother literally “Lit UP”.  I am not exaggerating when I say “lit up”.

Her face instantaneously transformed.  All of a sudden her face glowed, her eyes sparkled, and the biggest smile swept across her face as she took a deep breath.  She suddenly seemed taller as she swelled with pride.

It was though she lost all sense of the business surroundings and became a loving mother.

It was a stunning and beautiful transformation.

And simultaneously with the transformation she very slowly and lovingly said, “She’s perfect, absolutely perfect.”

The mother, now very animated, immediately began talking about her daughter with that “you won’t believe what she did” lilt in her voice.

She proceeded to tell me that the night before the daughter was in a very grouchy mood and seemed to be getting into everything.

Eventually, it got so bad that the misbehaving daughter was disciplined and sent to her bed early.

As the mother told the story in detail she was smiling the entire time and continued to glow with love.

I laughed with the mother as she told the story and then went on about my business.

It wasn’t until a few days later the “ah ha” hit me.

You may be asking about  the “ah ha” . I am sorry to say that you will have to wait.

I feel kinda bad about having you wait but I want to do it justice.

See you Thursday.


24
Nov 11

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Aren’t you proud of me?  I have posted this blog bright and early on, of all days, THANKSGIVING.  Those of you who read the last blog know the significance of the timing of this entry.

Yes it is Thanksgiving.  So I am sure you are expecting some sweet, heart tugging, sentiment about the significance of this day.

The iconic Norman Rockwell painting about Thanksgiving does tend to tug at the heart and bring a smile to your face.

Oh my, you know me all too well.  I will talk about Thanksgiving but it won’t be syrupy sweet.

Most of the world celebrates the same holidays as we do.  But Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.  It is a holiday where we intentionally stop to express our thanks and gratitude for the good in our lives and the blessings we enjoy.

Side Note: Some might say that the Fourth of July would fit into the category of being uniquely American.  Yes, to some degree, but most countries have a holiday that marks a significant political event, e.g. Bastille Day in France.

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I really like Thanksgiving for all the reasons everyone else does (family, food, faith, etc.) but I like it for another reason.  It is the only holiday that everyone is united on.  I mean… how can anyone argue with being thankful.

Thanksgiving and being thankful crosses every political, racial, socio-economic, and cultural group.

This should be a particularly fun and interesting Thanksgiving.  My wife and I met some new friends this year that moved to the US last May from Europe.  They are experiencing all the holidays American style for the first time.  This is their first Thanksgiving so we are making it as traditional as possible.

Side Note: Just so you know, I am talking about traditional food.  No I am not going to dress up like a pilgrim with clunky shoes and a belt buckle on my hat.

Although I think my wife would look pretty hot dressed up in a stylish black flared dress donned with apron and bonnet.  But I have a feeling she will pass on making this fashion statement.

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So it will be fun seeing Thanksgiving through the eyes of people who have not experienced a holiday where being thankful is the center point.

In prep for the blog today I tried to find a really good video, poem, quotes or something as a capstone to this blog on being thankful.

It was crazy.  Virtually everything I found fell at the two ends of the continuum.  At one end of the continuum were the videos that were so schmaltzy and sickeningly sweet that I almost lapsed into an emotional sugar coma while watching them.

The other end of the continuum were the videos that could be categorized as absolutely bizarre.  They were either insanely goofy or had a political agenda for being a vegetarian or for turkey rights.

So after much searching I found a video that has a Thanksgiving theme and two well known stars.

Enjoy.

YouTube Preview Image

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See you Monday.


22
Nov 11

May the FORCE miss you

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No salutation or niceties to start today’s blog.

I am a day late with my blog, I’m focused and on task.  So in my best Soup Nazi accent… “NO NICETIES FOR YOU!”

For you Seinfeld fans I cannot let the reference go by without some Soup Nazi clips.  For some reason you may need to take an extra click to see the video… enjoy.

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YouTube Preview Image

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I don’t know about you, but when things are looming, too busy, or a bit intense, I tend to go one of two directions – extremely focused allowing nothing to distract or scattered.

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Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.

- John Carmack

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My wife can attest to my face forward in a “world of my own” look and walk.

I’m not in a bad mood… just focused.  I’m a man on a mission and I don’t need or want any distractions.

But of course, since I don’t want any distractions, everything seems to be a distraction.  Nothing seems easy at all.

Have you ever noticed that when time is at a premium, everything that can go wrong usually goes wrong?

I have several things going on that are screaming for my attention and creating the squeeze.  But there’s one that tends to sneak up on me – the Holidays.

It took me years to finally see and understand the ritualistic cycle that occurs.

I am going to ask you a question that seems totally irrelevant to the topic.  Have you ever driven to Atlanta?

Side Note: Yes, I know… weird question.  In some odd obtuse way I will actually try to connect the dots.

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My wife and I have driven to Atlanta many many times.  We approach the city from the north.

Something weird starts to happen when we pass Dalton, GA (70 miles north of Atlanta).

All of a sudden you start to feel an increased intensity in the traffic.  The cars move a little faster and the drivers slowly become more aggressive.

It’s as though Atlanta has a magnetic force field and once you get within range there is a pull and tension that seems to take over.

I finally learned that the holidays have that same force field dynamic.

You don’t feel or sense it at first, but before long you feel a tug that begins to pull you into the frenzy.  And like a spaceship being sucked into a black hole you feel helpless

The pace seems to pick up just before Halloween and before you know it there starts to be more clutter.  Not the type of clutter in the house but clutter in the schedule and life.

You really begin to feel the pace about the week of Thanksgiving.  After that it’s a 90 mile an hour dodging traffic, driving defensively, “get out of my way”, don’t mess with me, scramble.

This year is going to be different.

Figuratively speaking, my wife and I have decided to take the back roads… not as fast, not as busy, and not as decorated.

My challenge now is trying not to get caught in the pull of the black hole before we get off the main Interstate.

The back roads won’t get you there as quickly… but the view is spectacular.

Wish us luck.

See you Thursday.


18
Nov 11

Are you a swinger?

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Hi, welcome back.

First of all, don’t let the title scare you.  I’m not talking about that kind of swinger.

Secondly, I am in a much better mood than I was on Monday.  I feel pretty chipper today.

Side Note: Humm… do you ever wonder where words or phrases people use on a regular basis originate?

Chipper… Why chipper?  Oh well, at least you know what I mean.  By the way, if anyone is aware of the origin I would love to know.

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I find it interesting that we as humans can have so many different moods – many, many kinds of moods.

There are good moods, bad moods, calm moods – you name it, we have it.

Whether you realize it or not, while sitting there in the glow of the computer screen you are in a mood.  Maybe it’s calm, impatient, negative, happy, etc.  None-the-less you’re in a mood.


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Do any of you remember the old Mood Rings?  They worked well huh?

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You can learn a lot about a person (or yourself) by the types of moods they generally have and what causes the moods.

We all want and like good moods.  The ones that cause the damage are the bad moods, so that will be where I spend most of my time focusing.

There is no question that I have my good days and bad days, but for the most part I am generally in a pretty good mood.
Some people’s mood soar back and forth like a six year old on the playground swing, while others gently sway like a porch swing.

I had a friend one time tell me that he was even tempered – always in a bad mood.

Now before I start meddling, let me first say that I believe that there are two basic categories for moods – legitimate and chosen.

Legitimate moods are those that have their basis in something physiological or (I say this with much reserve) circumstantial.  We have little or no control over these moods.  We do have some control over how we exhibit the moods, but not so much the mood itself.

Chosen are the moods that we have due to life situations.  These are completely within our control.

Side Note: Stick with me and don’t skim read.

I know this is a bit boring or seems elementary but I can assure you that your nose will be tweaked before we finish.

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This is where I start meddling.

I believe in the core of my being that 90% of our moods are chosen and the remaining 10% are honestly legitimate.

Now here’s the big lie.  We honestly believe that the majority of bad moods we are in are legitimate category when in reality they are chosen.

We choose a mood because it serves a purpose.

Huh?  Yep, serves a purpose.  The purposes are as varied as people and moods.

For example, for some it validates that we are unhappy about something, or it reaffirms what a crappy person we are because of something we did or didn’t do, or it’s a way of punishing someone because we didn’t get our way.  You name your own poison.

Another way you can tell that it is a chosen mood is how quickly it changes.

Think about it.  Have you ever been in a crappy mood and crabbing around all prickly?  Then someone you like or admire (or want to impress) comes in the room you immediately change your mood.

At that moment you just chose another mood.

There is one more point I need to make.  It is important that you not confuse frustration with a mood.  For example, I am frustrated that I am late getting the blog posted.  I’m frustrated but not in a bad mood.

If I want to be honest, there have been times when a lot less has happened and I chose to be in a bad mood.

Well, I hope you’re in a good mood now.  If not… your choice.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


14
Nov 11

Pay once… or twice?

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Yep, it’s me again.  Hi there!

It’s a gray, cloudy, overcast day.  You know, one of those days that seem to sit on your shoulders and slowly drain the life out of you.

To top it off it seems like everything is going wrong.  Weird stuff… stuff out of my control.

I don’t know about you, but I like things to go the way “I” want them to go.  I’m kind of funny that way.

Now, I know that life will not always go the way I want.  It just seems for what ever reason, life is bored or something and decides to entertain it self by jabbing Jerry.

I was at a ballgame yesterday and a couple of rows in front of me I saw a teenage brother sister teasing each other in a fun sort of way.  The younger brother without provocation would just start giving little pokes into his sister’s arm and side with his finger.

The sister would say “stop it” and push his hand away.  The boy did what any younger brother would do… he would smile and persist.

After a few more jabs the sister’s tolerance would come to an abrupt end and her look and voice clearly communicated – THAT’S ENOUGH!

The boy would back off but after about ten minutes the process would begin all over again.

I feel like “today” is the irritating younger brother trying to get under my skin.  Poke, poke, and poke again.  I feel the finger jabbing me.

I am trying not to get irritated but… but… unlike the girl to her brother I can’t say “stop it”, or “that’s enough”.

Life just is what it is.

I can get all irritated and frazzled.  But what good does it do.  Seriously.

What I’m about to say may sound very judgmental.  I don’t intend it to be, but it may be judgmental none-the-less.

Frankly, I don’t understand people who are worriers.  I have seen people struggle, worry and fret over things that haven’t happened nor will not likely happen.

Side Note: Yes it’s natural and appropriate to consider the possibilities of life and try to     accommodate for circumstances that are likely to occur.

What we are talking about are worriers.

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I have on occasion tried to figure out the payoff for worrying.  Yes, there is a payoff.  Everything we do has a payoff (this is a topic for another blog).

I heard someone say one time that you only worry about the things that you think won’t be going the way you want them to go.

It seems to me that by worrying you end up paying for the potential problem on the front and back end.

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There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.

- Mohandas Gandhi

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Maybe I’m self-serving or naïve, but I don’t want to suffer double for negative things that might occur.

Yes, I know that things will happen.  And let’s face it, bad stuff happens.  When something bad comes along in life I know it will not be pleasant or easy.  So I ask myself, why suffer now before the bad stuff shows up?

That’s one of the things that lower forms of life have over us humans.  You don’t ever see a dog or a cat worry.  They just deal with things as they come.

Maybe the reality is, I’m just not that smart.  It could be that I am in the lower form of life category and that’s why I don’t tend to worry much.

Well, I guess there is something to be said about not being the brightest bulb in the pack.

It’s not worth worrying about.

See you on Thursday.


10
Nov 11

El Yum!

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Hi, thanks for visiting.

You hungry?  Looks good, huh?

I’m sitting in the passenger area at the airport waiting for my flight to board.

This has been a weird week… I have totally lost track of time.  If you read the last blog entry you know that I have been in Phoenix all week at a conference.

Side Note: The last time I went to Phoenix was when I ran into the Buddhist Monk with the blue Tiffany box.  I wrote three blogs about him last May.

It was a very interesting encounter.  If you are interested, just click on May 2011 on the right side of the page.  Start with the May 11th entry, A Scene of Contrast.

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I don’t know about you, but when I am out of my normal routine I really get out of sorts.  If you don’t believe me just ask my wife.

What I find also strange about being out of my routine is that my logic gets all distorted.  It’s not that I don’t think clearly it’s just that something that’s a reality when I’m home is not necessarily applicable when I’m on the road.

Let me give you the perfect example.

When I am on the road, for some reason I tend to believe that there are no calories in food.  I can eat anything knowing that I will not gain any weight.

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So I end up putting all kinds of crap in my “Statue of David” physique.

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The second distortion of logic is that I think I have a “Statue of David” physique.

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.Now that I am back home (yep, it’s four hours later and finishing up my blog) I clearly see that my physique is less like a “Statue of David”  more along the lines of a Homer Simpson… Doh! 

But I do have more hair.

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I have come to the conclusion you can justify most anything.  All you have to do is be a bit creative and be willing to believe the lies you feed yourself.

If a person believes something, and most importantly, feels like it is true… then it is; regardless of the facts.

Then as they say, the rest is history.

Actions always follow beliefs.

Whenever you see actions (good or bad)… you can be assured that there is a belief supporting the behavior.

The belief may not contradict reality.  What I mean is, a person may be fully aware of the facts, but a belief justifies the action.

These beliefs are the subtle and insidious forms that take us down the wrong track all too quickly.

Side Note: Stick with me for a minute.  I know that the last couple of sentences are a bit obtuse, but I will try to make some sense of it.

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For example, I actually know that food in Phoenix has as many calories as it does where I live.  But here’s the belief that justified the indulgence.

  • “You’ve worked hard and you deserve it.”
  • “It won’t make any difference.”
  • “I will cut back next week.”

The coup de grâce is…

  • “You’ve already blown it, go ahead and enjoy that dessert.”

Now I know that I’m not the only one that twists my thinking to justify my behaviors.

Wow, what started out as a fun little blog got pretty heavy.

Humm… maybe this blog is for someone more than me.  What do you believe to justify what you do?

Later.  See you Monday.


8
Nov 11

Huh? Where am I?

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Wow… what happened!  Last night I realized that it was Monday and writing my blog didn’t even cross my mind.

Have you ever had one of those days where you find yourself consumed in the moment and nothing else has the fortitude to pierce the veil of the moment?  That was my day.

To be honest, yesterday did rattle me a bit.  Not because I thought I was mentally slipping (although some may argue that point) but because the blog has some level of importance to me in my life and I forgot it.

I think consuming days happen to us all at one time or another to some degree.  We get busy and lose track of stuff. 

What is sobering, is when we allow times in our life to become such a whirlwind that we get sucked into the vacuum of activity and lose track of the things that are important

The severity of the whirlwind is measured by the level of importance of the things we lose. 

I have known some people that have allowed the whirl of life to be so consuming that they endanger the most important things on earth – Faith and family.

Just so you know, I don’t put my blog on the same level of my Faith and family.  But losing track of the big stuff begins with losing track of the smaller stuff.

A True Story

This actually happened to a friend of mine.  I will call him Bill (really his name was Carl, but I will call him Bill).

Bill was on the “fast track”.  He was very successful and he had every indication that the future was looking even better. 

He was on the road a lot… well… constantly.  But in his mind, being on the road were the dues he had to pay for success. 

This went on for several years and as you can guess became a source of stress in his life and marriage. 

The importance of the important” was being lost.

“The most important thing, is keeping the most important thing, the most important thing.”

-       Stephen Covey

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Bill’s wife gave him a reality check in a very positive and pointed way.

After a typical week on the road, Bill was arriving home about 9:00 on a Friday night.

He steps into the front door and was shocked to find his wife (Donna) next to their four children who were standing very orderly in birth order formation. 

What made the scene even more dramatic was that all of the children were nicely dressed.

This really startled Bill.  He immediately started to panic wondering what special event he had forgotten.  Was it a birthday, celebration, an anniversary?

Finally, Donna broke the silence with the following series of statements.

“Children, I would like to introduce you to your father.”

“Bill, this is your oldest son, Mike.  He is 12 years old and a sixth grader.  He is a good student and his interests are soccer and video games.”

Donna continued to introduce all the children to Bill in a very calm and unemotional manner. 

Needless to say… this got Bill’s attention. 

This event pierced the veil that clouded reality. 

The scariest thing about losing touch is that we don’t know we’ve lost touch.

I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I stay in touch with the smaller important things to assure never losing touch with the larger important things.

Hopefully this little blog is a pin prick to poke a little hole in a part of your life where you may be losing touch.

Thanks for hanging out with me.  See you Thursday.


3
Nov 11

The Lid or the Pieces?

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A couple of blog entries back I wrote about the difference between people who’s philosophy to life is more of a timeline mindset vs. deadline mindset.

I talked about the fact that everyone uses timelines and deadlines; it’s just that people’s approach to life leans in one direction or another.  Neither is better than the other… just different.

I also mentioned that I am a timeline person.

Timeline people like context… the big picture.  I am the lid on the 1000 Piece Puzzle kind of person.  I like to have a sense of how the details come together.

What I like about context (puzzle lid) is that it lets you know where you are and how you fit.

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“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up. “

- Chuck Palahniuk

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If not careful, we can get so caught up in the moment (good or bad) and lose perspective of the bigger picture.

This is one of the reasons I hate POLITICS.

Side Note: Don’t worry… I am not going to get all political on you and try to influence you to believe and vote as me.  I will never do that.

I approach politics like my views about God.  I live what I believe, invite you to explore (just like I explore), respond to questions if asked, and bring honor to truth.

I am using politics as an illustration because politicians are the perfect example to make my point.

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The sad reality is, regardless of where a politician is on the political spectrum they all do the same thing… they take a detail (puzzle piece) and use it to paint an exaggerated picture to advance their political viewpoint.

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“Disinformation is most effective in a very narrow context. “
Frank Snepp

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They use the piece to create a big picture vs. using the big picture to put the piece in context.

Now before we get all puffy and indignant… let’s be honest… we do the same thing.

It may be unintentional and on a smaller scale, but the same thing none-the-less.

So many times we are blinded by the detail of the moment and interpret things as either being far worse than they are or far better.

If not careful we start making important decisions and taking aggressive actions based on a faulty perception or how we feel.

That’s why we need people who think differently or information and data that may be different from the way we believe.

Most importantly, we need to be open to receive something different than what we think or feel.  It doesn’t mean we will or need to agree with the information.   But differing data tests our assumptions and beliefs.

I think the most important thing is to keep in mind that there are things bigger than us and we can’t take some things too seriously.

I ran across a sign that I thought was a great reminder about where we fit into the bigger scheme of things.

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Talk about context!

See you Monday.