December, 2011


29
Dec 11

Files or Piles?

.

Howdy, welcome to the last blog of 2011.

It’s hard to believe, but in a couple of days 2011 will be over and then it becomes another year that is tossed on the pile of memories in the corner of our minds.

Well… at least in my mind.  Some people are filers of memories; others are pilers… obviously… I’m a piler.

Of course (being a piler) I contend that heaping memories together is far better than filing them.

Before I begin my amazingly articulate discourse heralding the benefits of piling vs. filing memories, allow me first to qualify my thoughts.

Just so you know, for all you filers out there, I am not anti-filing.  There are some wonderful applications and important need for filing.

Having good filing skills and systems allows you to find things easily and keep track of stuff in a tidy organize manner.

Filing is a very good thing… for stuff NOT memories.

I tend to believe that memories are more organic in nature.

By heaping my memories into the corner of my mind they in essence become a mental compost pile.  Compost used to fertilize the future.

Something amazing begins to happen when our memories, both good and bad, are thrown in a pile in the corner heaped year upon year.

The power of the process is piling all the stuff together, not keeping them in their tidy separate space.

If allowed, the mish mash of memories slowly begins to break down and deteriorate into fertile soil… soil perfect for growing things.

Now before I go much further, I can hear all you filers out there getting all riled up because you like to periodically take those pleasant memories out of their little files and reminisce and relive those moments.

I understand that… on one level.  But keep in mind one sobering reality.  By keeping the good memories separate, which is necessary for filing, it never allows for the bad things to die.

The bad things are suspended in time, never fading, and continuing to bring harm.

It is natural to want to protect the good from the bad.

But here is the wonderful paradox.  The bad does not contaminate the good in this scenario, but that the good deteriorates the bad.

.

.

Over time, the memory compost pile produces good soil for you to experience more fruit in your life.  If handled well, the good and bad make life better and more rewarding.

By keeping all those good and bad memories filed away you never realize the fullness available.  Because the bad is never absorbed by the the good.

So as 2011 comes to an end I reflect and reminisce.

I must say, 2011 has been a great year.  I feel very blessed.

But at mid-night on New Year’s Eve I will eagerly toss 2011 into my memory compost pile and get ready for 2012.

It should be a good year.  I am up to my ankles in fertile soil.

Ciao… see you next year.


26
Dec 11

Happy Sigh or Sad Good-Bye

.

Happy day after Christmas.  I guess it’s happy.

For some people the day after Christmas is a very sad good-bye.  It means the excitement has peaked and the mundane of everyday life is on the horizon.

For months the momentum and excitement builds and then crescendos in one grand crash of cymbals on Christmas day with gift wrapping flying, people laughing with oohs” and ”aahs” abounding.

Stuff memories are made of.

While some are having a sad good-bye to the Yule Tide peak there are others who are slap happy that it’s all over.

You can almost hear their internal voice screaming from the mountains tops, “Thank God it’s over and good riddance.”

The months leading up to the big day have been grueling or barely tolerable at best.  Now they are setting back the day after Christmas with coffee in hand releasing a very happy sigh.

Some of you can probably relate to this poem I ran across.

One Day After Christmas

It’s Christmas time at my house, the relatives are here.

They eat me out of house and home, and drink up all my beer.

I love the decorations, and the sleigh bells in the snow,

But I wish those pesky relatives would take their kids and go.

The cookie crunchers are in a free-for-all, the girls against the boys,

They’re fighting over boxes ‘cause they’re bored with all their toys.

My mother-in-law is snoring in my favorite TV chair,

Those kids are stringing lights on her and tenseling her hair.

I oughta wake her up before the fireworks begin,

But I wanna see those blue sparks fly when they plug her in.

-       Author Unknown

.

Granted, this poem is no literary masterpiece…. But it makes a point.

My guess is most of you are where I am… kinda in the middle.

I had a wonderful Christmas but I have to admit that I caught myself giving a substantial “Whew” this morning while relaxing.

So, I sit in the living room rather content next to the forlorn Christmas tree.  The tree is looking very inadequate and purposeless this morning without any gifts under the boughs.

But at least I have the lights on.  It looks somewhat happy.  There are few things sadder to me than a Christmas tree after the big day with the lights off.

Now that Christmas is in the rearview mirror I have a suggestion that will make the world a much better place… well… for me anyway.

Please, please, please – if you have outdoor decorations – either take them down immediately or keep them lit.

This is especially true with the inflatable decorations.  There are few things more disturbing than limp Santas, reindeer or snowmen lying in a disfigured heap on the lawn.

.

If you are an inflatable kind of person (Christmas inflatable not kinky inflatable), keep them blown up looking happy and useful or put them out of our misery and pack them away till next year.

Well, regardless of how you’re feeling today, happy or sad… or both, at least keep the Christmas tree and decorations happy by keeping them lit or putting them up.

I have one more blog entry for 2011.  Hopefully it will be a bit more insightful than todays meanderings.

See you Thursday.

Ciao.


22
Dec 11

Filling in the Blanks

.

Hi, good to have you hang out with me for a while.

In the last blog entry I messed with your head a bit when I titled the blog “Christmas is H _ _ _ !”.

I talked about the natural tendency to fill in the blanks (or any information gap) with things that tend to be negative.

I promised to fill in the blanks… and I will… but let me set the stage first.

As I mentioned in the last blog, I tend to be a pretty positive person.  But it seems to be more of a challenge these days.

It feels like the world is getting increasingly weirder, angrier and polarized.  Have you noticed?

I have never seen so much anger, distrust, cynicism, threats, and fighting… and that’s just getting out of the church parking lot.  Just kidding, just kidding, but you get my point.

You have to admit, the world does seem to be pulling apart more so than pulling together.

There seems to be no middle ground on anything anymore, only polarized positions with each side entrenched in their respective opinions.

The opening paragraph of Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities seems pretty relevant.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens,
English novelist (1812 – 1870)

.

On the surface the world seems pretty hopeless.  But it’s not.  Not at all.

By now you may have guessed what the “H” word is from the title of the last blog… HOPE!

Christmas is HOPE!

.

The possibility of hope scares a lot of people.  I found a very interesting quote.

.

.

Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.
Friedrich Nietzsche

.

 

Wow.  That only comes from someone who has no hope.  Sad… so sad.

We have to be honest.  For many people living in a troubled world, Hope does seem a bit illusive.

But you have to have Hope to survive.  Take a look at this great clip from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption.

.

YouTube Preview Image

.

Hope is real.  The reality of Hope came into the world nearly 2000 years ago.

Light was provided for a dark world.

Side Note: To my non-Christian friends don’t get all weirded out because I will be talking about Jesus.

As always, I am not trying to get you to believe what I believe.  That is something you work out personally with God.  I am just sharing how the reality of Hope impacts me.

.

Now to some of my non-Christian friends you may think I am trying to promote my religion.  Not at all.

Religion in itself cannot provide Hope … it never will.  In fact, religion has added to the negativity and polarization the world is experiencing.

But Hope comes from the reality that Christmas celebrates… a savior was born… a Universe rejoiced… darkness pierced.

Merry Christmas!


20
Dec 11

Christmas is H _ _ _ !

Sorry if the title threw you.

But allow me to be a bit brash for a moment.  The title only threw you depending on what letters us used to fill in the blanks.

I have to admit, the set up was for you to assume the word intended was “HELL”.  This was to stir you up a little… and make a point.

The reality is, we as humans have this amazing ability to automatically fill in the blank spaces of life with our assumptions and beliefs.   Then our emotions and actions follow based on what we assume or believe.

There must be something within us that demands that things be complete or whole.  We can’t even stand physical space to be vacant… we have to fill it with a plant, chair, picture or something.

I am not saying this is a bad thing necessarily, except when we fill the void with the wrong information or belief.

There are two troubling aspects of the tendency to “fill in the blanks”.

First is the sad reality that if there is a void to be filled the default tends to be something negative.  I work with a lot of different companies and invariably when there is a void of information people automatically assume the negative.

The default is to distrust vs. trust or assume the worst vs. the best.

Now people will argue that there is good reason to distrust or assume the worst – maybe, maybe not.

All I know is that an inordinate amount of energy (emotional and physical) is lost on negative assumptions when the majority of time the intent or reality was not negative at all.

The other troubling aspect is that we most often “fill in the blanks” in regards to other people.  This is where it gets really messy.

And let’s face it.  We make assumptions about people all the time based on inadequate information.  We question there motives or intents.

How many times have you seen someone become offended, get their feelings hurt or just get angry (I was going to say pissed off but I thought my wife would not like it) by the actions or inactions of another person?

The saddest thing about it is that the other person meant nothing by it.

We, without thinking, fill in gaps with our assumptions – good or bad.

Just so you know, I have my fair share of faults.  I struggle with goofy things that hinder my effectiveness as a business person, husband or friend.

With that said, I am very thankful that one of the issues I tend not to struggle with is automatically assuming the worst or the negative.

I generally suspend judgment or decide not to take something personally.

I’m embarrassed to say that I have a hard time understanding why people automatically gravitate to the negative assumption with incomplete information.

Maybe I’m too self serving and selfish (or completely naïve) to get all worked up and spend negative energy based on incomplete data.

.

I think a lot of times we don’t pay enough attention to people with a positive attitude because we assume they are naive or stupid or unschooled.

- Amy Adams
.

.

What I am about to say may really sound weird or naïve.  Even if I do have some basis to believe the other person may have meant something negative by their behavior… I generally decide not to be bothered.

I decide.

I intentionally make a decision not to take something personally.  Even if the person happened to have negative intent I don’t want to give them the power of impacting my life.

I’m sure that I may be coming across a bit arrogant or (God forbid) self-righteous.  I don’t mean to be.  I have no room for self-righteousness because I have plenty of other demons that keep me humble.

The next time you are faced with a void of information… decide.

Now back to the title.  What is another “H” word that would fit?

Humm… I will talk about it on Thursday.


16
Dec 11

The Missing Head

.

Hi, me again.

My wife and I just returned from a two week cruise and I am fading back into reality.  That’s why I am posting this blog entry a day late.

I tried to write yesterday but… to no avail.  My body was willing, my hands were moving but my head was no where to be found.

As I reflect on yesterday I can clearly see that my body was home but head was still on the cruise ship.

But fortunately (I guess), today the clouds of reality are beginning to form and some semblance of rational thought is wiggling its way to the surface.

I believe more and more that it is important to step away from the hum drum of life.  Life, if not careful, becomes a slow grind that consumes us and dulls our senses.

.

“Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”

- Anton Chekhov (1860 – 1904)

.

.

The strange thing about life is that… it takes on a life of its own.  Yes, I know what I just said was a weird statement but true.

It is critical that we periodically take time to recalibrate.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t confuse recalibrate with refreshing our body.

We can give our body a rest and a break with a good vacation, but recalibration is when we intentionally test the lives we live… test for distortions.

Let’s face it, we work hard to control of our life.  There’s nothing wrong with that in principle.  We just want things in life to go the way we want them to go.

The problem is our perception of life can become distorted.  The life we then pursue is the perception not the reality.

You can choose your own poison but let me give you a personal example.  There are some people (uh, me for example) who believe they have to be on the “go” all the time… even on vacation.

I get bored easily, so on vacation I am constantly doing something or going somewhere.

This worked really well until about the ninth day of a fourteen day cruise.  I started to be bored and being in the middle of the Atlantic didn’t provide many options.

But then something happened.  I was forced to go to a different level of vacationing.  I was forced to slow down… and it was a good thing.

I found myself actually just sitting on the deck, doing nothing, and loving it.

Yes, I know that people are naturally different and some “go” more while others “slow” more.

All I am saying is that so many people believe life is to be a certain way and discover that it was a distortion.

Here is a wonderful truth.  Life naturally tries to recalibrate.  It is like a “reset” button to reconnect us with what’s real and important.

But it only takes effect ifwe are open and receptive.

I have always enjoyed the “GO” times… but now I appreciate and value the “SLOW” times.

Ciao.


12
Dec 11

Weird blog but an important question

.

Hi, good to see you… that is… figuratively speaking. 

As you know I can’t really see you. But then again… some of you have that little camera on your computer. 

Well, just let me say in true Billy Crystal fashion… “You look marvelous, simply marvelous”.

For those of you who are Billy Crystal fans or for the few who have no idea what I mean when I say, “You look marvelous”, I have a great video for you.

It is a clip from Saturday Night Live with Billy Crystal (a.k.a. Fernando) and the late George Steinbrenner the former owner of the New York Yankees.  Enjoy.

As you can see, I am off to a weird start to this entry. 

Yes, I know… weird is normal for me.  But there is another reason – giddiness.  Yep, giddiness.

This is my 200th blog entry. Wow! 

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have written 200 entries.  It may not be a big deal to you but for me it is.

Just so you know, I realize that writing 200 blog entries does not constitute saying anything worthwhile.  But I’ve tried.

I know that I am not a brilliant writer.  I also know that what I do write is regularly sprinkled with typos and grammatical faux pas. 

Hopefully, during these madcap adventures into writing, I have encouraged, amused, challenged, or perhaps made you think. 

It would be nice if I caused you to experience any or all of the things mentioned above, but frankly that was not my primary goal.

The blog was my step of obedience.  Those of us who have a walk of Faith need not know where we are being led… just the one leading.

Frankly, I have come to the conclusion that a point of surrender in our walk is giving up the need to ask the looming question – Why?

If I ask God to help me, my responsibility is to follow where He leads, do what He suggests, and not need any more information.  Just trust in the one I am following.

In the sentence above I intentionally used the word suggest vs. ask or commands.  First let me say, there are times that God asks (sometimes commands) things of us and we need to act, and act quickly. 

But I believe more and more that He usually suggests.  Like a loving father trying to train a child generally it’s in the form of suggestions – try this, this will work, here’s another option.

I don’t believe God would have loved me less if I didn’t launch out with this blog. 

But I talked to God about wanting to grow beyond where I am and be more usable.  He suggested the blog.  I knew it was from Him.

I then had to make a decision to take the risk, invest the time, and take the steps to do it.  It was a great suggestion and I am so glad I listened.

We ask for things and desire good things for our lives.  God as a loving father wants good things for us even more.  That’s why He is willing to lead and suggest… if we are willing.

So I will ask you the question that I asked myself that started my journey with the blog.

Do you want to wake up in five years and be where you are now as a person?

God wants more for us than you can ever imagine.  He longs to lead and guide… if we will listen and follow.

See you Thursday with blog # 201.


8
Dec 11

Deceive or Receive?

.

Welcome back… that is… assuming you’ve been here before. 

Nice picture huh?  I know it’s weird but believe it or not… it applies to the topic.

Over the last few entries I have been unpacking a remarkable “Ah Ha” that I experienced a few weeks back.

Last time we talked about the struggle of getting things from the head to the heart and ended with a statement and a question. 

I said, “Some people believe it, but do they receive it?”

Yes, I realize this may be a bit confusing but let me take it apart and attempt to put it back together.

First, I feel the need to define the word “receive”.

I checked the dictionary and as you would expect there were several definitions.  The initial definition was pretty good for my purposes and others fell short. 

The definitions that didn’t fit, primarily dealt with examples like receiving a letter, instructions, etc.  It focused more on the offering of something than the actual receiving.

The one that did fit pretty well was – “To take into ones possession.”  But it is still missing the real point I am trying to take.

My definition is talking about receiving something intangible like a thought, idea or insight vs. something tangible like a gift or letter. 

The type of “Receive” I am talking about is when someone takes in something (an insight as an example) an makes it a part of them.

Lots of people hear things, are told things, are taught things, believe facts and it just passes through.  But when you hear something and you take it in and it becomes a part of you… that is receiving.

A Sobering Question

Why is it easier for most people to receive (take in) an insult and find it more difficult to receive (take in) a compliment? 

We hear compliments… maybe believe it to some degree… but we don’t actually receive it (take in to our being). 

Where as, we perceive something as a slight or insult and we humans tend to immediately believe it and take it in.

It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.
- Epictetus

.

It’s sad but true.  Unfortunately it seems our natural default is to believe and receive negative messages much more readily than the positive.

Think about it.  What are you personally more likely to believe and take in (receive)? 

Why is that? 

Personally (now I am going to sound really religious – don’t let it scare you), I believe that because the world is fallen, the evil one will do anything to keep us from the fullness of what a loving father wants for his children.

Now back to what started this series of blog entries.

A loving mother can see her daughter as perfect (even with imperfections).  If she, an earthly mother can do so, then God our father does even more.

I have known and believed this truth on one level, but found it difficult to receive (take in to the core of my being) it to the full. 

I’m not there totally but my oh my, what a joy to know that God loves us in spite of our imperfections.

I hope you see you again on Monday.

Ciao.


5
Dec 11

Head to Heart

.

Hello again.  I am glad you decided to hang out with me.

In the last couple of blogs I have been talking about a recent Spiritual insight.  It is regarding the love of God and how he sees his children.  If you haven’t read them I encourage you to take a quick look.

In the last entry I talked about God seeing us as perfect even though we are imperfect. 

On some level I have believed this in my head but couldn’t quite get it to my heart.  Conceptually I knew that God sees us as perfect because of Christ but still struggled at times because I could still see all of my imperfections. 

.

The reality of God seeing us as perfect expanded significantly, and dramatically moved closer to my heart after the encounter with the mother and five year old daughter that I wrote about two entries back.

I have always heard that the longest journey is from the head to the heart.  This is not only true in spiritual matters but in all facets of life.

.

There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.
-  Charles Dickens

.Our heads are continually being bombarded with thoughts, ideas, information and data. 

We can learn, theorize and speculate about all sorts of stuff.  The more information we have the greater the likelihood of being deceived that one is an expert or truly knowledgeable about something in particular.

Side Note:  I will use a lot of societal or earthly examples to try to impart a spiritual truth.  They of course will all fall short.  But the core concept is sound.

 .

Take something as innocuous as the sport of golf.  I can read books, watch videos, try to channel Tiger, even play a few rounds.  I have the head knowledge but it isn’t realized in actuality.

Most who golf –are not golfers; most who paint – are not artists; most who build – are not craftsmen; most who cook – are not chefs.

The journey from the head to the heart is a journey of dedication, commitment, trial and error, openness and vulnerability.  

It is a journey of struggle and transformation.

I believe that information and theory never gently flows from the head to the inner being, nor can it be imposed.  It is rewarded.

“.

“We must work out what God has put in.”

- Oswald Chambers

 .

I have referred to the following illustration before but it fits so well with this topic.

The transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly is a journey of struggle. 

The slow, low caterpillar grinds his way through life and eventually builds and entraps himself in a cocoon.    

When the right time has come, he begins to push the confines of the walls he built. 

The struggle begins.  There can be no stopping, and most importantly, he can receive no help. 

You see, it is the struggle that forces the fluids and strength to the extremities that enables the butterfly to fly.  

We have all had those moments in life, relationships, with hobbies where we finally say, “I get it, I get it!”

The concepts and information are internalized and become real.  One knows that they haven’t mastered it, but also knows that they are experiencing it on a totally different level.

But there is another element to this spiritual insight.

One believes it – but do they receive it?

See you Thursday.


1
Dec 11

Imperfect Perfection

.

Welcome back.

First, if have not read the last blog entry please take a minute to do so.  Today’s entry will make very little sense without the backdrop of the story about the mother and daughter as reference.

It was several days after seeing the mother at the business meeting before the impact of her story in my life was revealed.

The amazing thing about a Spiritual walk is that it unfolds in amazing ways if we continue to move forward and remain open to the truths God desires to impart.

One day for some reason I was reminded (I know now that it was a God reminder) of the event with the mother.  I was thinking about the exchange with the mother and I was suddenly struck by the obvious paradox of her story.

When asked about her daughter the mother immediately said, “She’s perfect, absolutely perfect.”  Then she proceeded to go into detail about how bad she was the night before.

The paradox amused me – she’s perfect and a bad girl.

The “Ah Ha”

This divine insight didn’t come in one blinding revelation.  It seemed to unfold with my flow of thought regarding the mother and daughter.

The first thing that struck me was my shallowness as a human and how easily we forget the basics.

As a Christian I believe to the core of my being that God, our Father, loves us with a love far beyond our earthly ability to love others or even comprehend.

So the truth is, as much as that mother loved her child, God loves us more.

OK… I get that… that’s really cool.

Then the next beautiful truth hit me.

If an earthly mother loves her child so much that she sees her imperfect child as perfect, and even says so; then God must be able to do so all the more.

This thought revealed another belief.  I really, really believe in my heart that those who have entered into relationship with Him, enjoy the same favor as the daughter we have been talking about.

I believe God looks down on His beloved child and just like the mother says slowly and lovingly, “He’s perfect, absolutely perfect.”

This does not mean that we don’t have issues we need to deal with, or areas that need disciplining.  But God, because of Christ, sees us as perfect.

This revelation then begs the next question.

If God sees us as perfect and loves us beyond measure, why is it so difficult for us to believe it and receive it?

Why is it so hard for us (me) to see God looking down at me and slowly and lovingly saying, “He’s perfect, absolutely perfect?”

I think that needs to be unpacked a little more.

I will do that on Monday.