September, 2012


21
Sep 12

Character or character?

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Howdy… welcome back.

I’m sure that many of you had to look twice at the title and tried to figure out what it meant.

One is a noun and the other is an adjective.  Humm… I’ll make mine the noun.

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Side Note: If any of you knew me in High School you would be shocked that I even alluded to the parts of speech.  Let’s just say that English and dissecting sentences was not my forte.

My wife is probably laughing that I even attempted to use the term noun or adjective.

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I wasn’t planning to talk about the importance of Character until I saw on YouTube a clip from the movie The Bid Kahuna.

Yeah… I know… I didn’t see it either.

But after seeing the clip I definitely want to check it out.

Take a look and we’ll talk more.

YouTube Preview Image

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I can’t think of a much better compliment than for someone to say they trust me.

As you know, trust and character are so much more than just saying things that are factual.  It’s when a person trusts who you are, not just what you say.

There is such safety and comfort knowing that you are dealing with a person of Character.

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Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
- Abraham Lincoln
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This may sound odd but there is something sacred about Character.

A person of Character has a depth and a strength that need not be spoken.  It’s just there.  It is exhibited in consistent action not words.

Character is not something you are born with.

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Talent is a gift, character is a choice.

- Larry Brown (Basketball coach)

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It is a choice.  It is developed.

This topic begs questions of myself.

Who am I?  Would people say that I am a person of Character?  Can people trust who I am as a person?

Some of you reading this blog may be known for the adjective character  vs. the Character that is a noun.

But that need not be your identity.  If not careful we can lock ourselves into a lie about ourselves.

The reality is, we have all made mistakes.

There is no question that to rebuild Character takes time and consistency.

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Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
- Helen Keller

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As I said earlier, it takes time.  And people may not trust us for a while.  But it is important to remember; we change for us, not others.

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You can’t talk your way out of something you acted yourself into.

- Stephen Covey

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Thanks for checking in.

Ciao… see you Monday.


18
Sep 12

“Come on baby light my fire”

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I love that song.

Whether you prefer The Doors version or Jose Feliciano, they’re both great.

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Side Note: If you’re in the mood to listen to either one of the versions you will find them at the end of the blog.  I hope you check them out for a quick trip down memory lane.

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Even though I am referencing the song a lot, this blog entry is not about this song.  The song just sparks a bigger topic.

Light My Fire is a song whose lyrics are obviously sexual in nature.  But the premise is what I want to talk about – small things spark big things that happen.

Here are some quotes to make my point.

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“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.”

- Dante

“You can’t start a fire without a spark.”

- Bruce Springsteen

“There must be a spark of search for meaning.”

- Viktor Frankl


The reality is, we will never move, go or do without some impetus to do so.  Something needs to spark action.

The most challenging part of getting to where you want to go is starting.

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You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

- Zig Ziglar

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It seems I have been talking quite a bit over the past few months about starting… move… do something.  It must be for someone… maybe for me.

In June I had the blog titled Get Off Your Ass.  It was a pretty good blog entry but I particularly liked the picture.  It is a keeper.

But I digress.

All I know is this, unless a sparks ignites the flame nothing happens.

The potential the flame has is meaningless.  There can be huge reservoirs of fuel capable of a massive fireball but it never happens without the catalyst.

Your potential is worthless.

It doesn’t matter what you have or what you think you are capable of.  Unless something lights your fire you will never burn.

I tend to think there are two types of sparks.

There are sparks that inspire you to move and then there are sparks that grab you by the neck and slam you against the wall.

The spark is something that either invites or challenges.

I could be all syrupy and encouraging.  If that is what you need today I am sorry to say that you’ve come to the wrong place.

I’m not in that kind of mood.  I do inspire and encourage but I’m not in that kind of head or heart space.

You can probably guess pretty easily what kind of spark I am offering today… yes, you guessed it… it’s a grab you by the neck and slam you against the wall spark.

I don’t know what you need to do.  But DO SOMETHING.

See you Thursday.

Ciao.

Here’s the videos.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

13
Sep 12

Look at it my way!

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Yep, I’m back.

For those of you who are regular readers (both of you), you know that I have been pretty good at posting a blog twice a week – but not lately.

But you have to admit, although my postings have been erratic as of late, my commitment to mediocrity has not been compromised.  That was supposed to be a joke.

Today I am going to talk about perspective.  WooHoo, how exciting is that!?

On the surface this topic may seem pretty mundane.  I encourage you to read on because you will find it much more boring than you may think.

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Side Note: Yes, I know.  I am in a very strange mood this morning.

Not funny… just strange.  But read on anyway.

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But on a serious note, I am continually amazed how two people can experience the same reality and walk away with two totally different perspectives.

I am not talking about differences in taste.  For example two people looking at a piece of art and having differing opinions as to its beauty or quality.

Differing tastes are not problematic to me.  In fact, I think that our differing taste about things is one of the greatest gifts of God to His creation.

Wow… the variety for us all to enjoy in different ways… how cool is that?

This would be a great topic for a different time, but not today.

Seeing things from a different perspective can be somewhat amusing, like the pictures I have sprinkled out in this blog.

It’s fascinating how a simple twist of position can totally distort reality.  How very clever and creative.

The issue of perspective I am talking about are life issues.  The types of situations that aren’t amusing nor fun.

Everyone has experienced times when something happened and you and the other person(s) involved engage in verbal fisticuffs because you saw the same event differently.

This is when frustrations heat up and tensions rise because you know what you saw and heard while the other person is adamant about what they saw and heard.

The communication gets heated and of course you know that their head was up their ass because if it weren’t they would agree with you.

The only problem is, they too are questioning the location of your head also.

Yes, situations like this are very frustrating and totally suck the sweet out of the day.

Now to make a negative topic even worse, there are no easy answers.  Nope.

This is life. Sorry, but true.

Wow, I sound negative today don’t I?  I don’t mean to be because I am not a negative person.  But I am realistic.

Yes, there are days that are difficult because of situations like I just discussed.

As I said there are no easy answers but I do have some opinions that hopefully will help.

Difficult situations like this either make us a better person or we become bitter and more locked in to our point of view.

Struggles in life sharpen us, educate us, and develop us… if we are open to it.

Every one of us has been programmed by what we’ve been taught or by life experiences.  Some of our perspectives are perfectly accurate… but frankly, these are fewer than we may think.

The majority of our perspectives have varying degrees of distortion.  And some are totally distorted.

This is how we learn and grow… going through the tough times.

Yes, I like to write about the kittens and rainbows of life where we walk away smiling coated with a happy mental salve.

But life’s tough times make life… life.  Personally I don’t like the negative things but I am thankful for them.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


8
Sep 12

Childlike or Childish?

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How can you go wrong with a picture of a puppy and a kid?

I love the innocence of kids.

They don’t know what they don’t know so they just are.  They don’t know what they can’t do… or say… which we all know can be problematic at times.

Life has no rules or limitations because they don’t know any better.

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“Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music.”

- William Stafford

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There’s no pretense… just candid natural responses.

Take a look at this video as an example.

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YouTube Preview Image

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But then something happens.  Somehow the natural child begins to morph, some earlier than others.

They begin to morph into people.  How unfortunate.

The innocence and natural openness begins to evaporate and their training and upbringing starts to take charge.

The cute childlike behavior becomes childish and self focused.

I reflect back on what William Stafford said in the earlier quote.  He said they dance before they learn there isn’t anything that isn’t music.

Who teaches them differently?

Yes, there are things that kids need to learn as they grow and mature.  And no, I don’t think they should be pampered and coddled from life.

But I do believe we have done them a disservice.

Not intentionally.  We just teach them what we learned and unfortunately we unwittingly impose the limitations we learned.

I know there are things that we should teach kids.

But I want to learn from kids.  Or should I say… UNLEARN!

I have enough self-imposed limitations that I have lived with for years that are a lie.  On one level I know they are a lie but I need to unlearn the stuff.

It is my desire to see things untarnished by my jaded perspective.  I want to experience things fresh and unencumbered.

Some of you are reading this and thinking that this is impossible.  NO… it is not impossible.

It does require effort but it can be done.

I find that I am actually approaching life from a more childlike perspective.  No, I’m not getting old and reverting back to childhood.

I am seeing things differently.  This does not mean I don’t have adult problems and issues that I have to deal with.

Yep, I put on my big boy pants and go about life.  But wearing big boy pants does not mean that we can’t find those precious spots in the day where we can look at things from childlike eyes.

It’s very cool indeed.

I tell people that I know that I will age but I don’t want to grow old.

How about you?

Ciao… see you Monday.


3
Sep 12

A different look at shoes

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The blog today may seem a bit morbid… but it is not.  Not at all.

A friend of mine has only a few weeks to live and is in Hospice care.

When the topic of death surfaces most people avoid it because it’s unpleasant.  We have a natural self protection instinct that keeps our minds from going in that direction.

Somehow we believe that if we don’t think about death it might delay the inevitable.  Fanciful thinking.

Although my friend is facing death we had an extraordinary talk about life.

It is life that I wish to talk about.  There were several things that struck me about life during our conversation.  It is these insights I would like to share.

Our view of life is from the context of life.  Life is all we know.

We look forward and charge the hill of life.  We identify our goals and mission and advance forward the best we can.

A person who is dying views life from the perspective of death.

Unless a person has had a serious encounter with death we cannot fully understand life.  We the living may think we understand… but we don’t.

But I did get a taste of it while visiting my friend.

Relationships and conversations with people who are nearing death are on a different level.

Our time talking together was simple and unguarded.  We laughed, swapped stories, talked about life and death, and ordinary things from an extraordinary perspective.

This is the kind of communication that I believe God intended originally in the Garden of Eden.

Simple, unguarded, open, powerful.

What struck me too was the beauty of the details we the living miss.

As we visited my friend talked about the things that bring him joy.  Interestingly, the things that brought the most joy from a death perspective of life were things he never thought of while going through life.

I asked him to give me an example.  He said the animals on the bottom of kid’s shoes.

Huh?  Animals on the bottom of kid’s shoes?  Please repeat that.

As he shared the details I knew exactly what he was talking about.

When his oldest adult daughter was about two he would transport her everywhere on his shoulders.

She would run to him, jump in his arms and then with the father’s strength that two year olds only know he would throw her on to his shoulders.

After she was safely on his shoulders he remembers grabbing one of her feet hanging next to his chest and lifting it up and look on the bottom to see which animal she was wearing for the day.

This is something he never really thought of at the time.  But this is a view of life from a death perspective.

The joy of life is the small stuff.

His mind did not race back to the career advancements, the deal made or the new car he drove.  Joy was found in a little girl’s shoe.

As we go through life we easily get caught up in career, bills, decision… life stuff.  At times things become so looming that it is overwhelming.

Added to the cacophony of life stuff there seems to be a constant unseen weight.  These are things beyond our control that adds to the already weighty pressures of life.

We worry about the economy, the state of the world and safety for our children.

All I know is that as my friend drifts closer to death, the things that we see as big issues of life have become unimportant.

It is the details of life that are bringing joy… tiny, seemingly insignificant details.  Details that he had not thought of for years.

Although death does take the body it need not kill our spirit or rob our joy.

We may not have much choice over the former but we have full control over the latter.

One of the greatest blessings I have learned in my life is that out of the ugliest of situations there are wonderful joys to be discovered.

Joy comes in the strangest forms.  Even the bottom of a little girl’s shoe.

See you Thursday.