Posts Tagged: challenge


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.


30
Jun 11

Hard Times in Life

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Today is a bad day.

I am not depressed… just really sad.

The topic of the tattooed arm that we have been poking at the last few blogs is on hold for today.

Someone close died… very suddenly… if you get my jist.

A sudden death like this is new territory.  I have had people close to me die before but this is different.  It is tragic, disturbing, and meaningless on levels that you can’t explain unless you have experienced it.

Everyone close to the person is going through the reflective mental gymnastics of shoulda, coulda, woulda.

So you can see why my brain is out of order today.  To add to the saddness and the mental gymnastics that my brain has been going through, the family has asked me to conduct the Memorial Service.

I am a Christ follower with a strong faith, but I am not a minister.  I have never conducted a Memorial Service of any kind, especially one that has such painful implications and complexity.

So you can see why my head is preoccupied.

See you Monday.


27
Jun 11

Trapped by a Belief

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Hello.  It’s good to have you pop in and visit for a while.

In the last blog I touched on one of the most powerful aspects of life… what we believe.  And as most of you know this is a continuation of a discussion about a picture of a quote tattooed to the upper arm of a girl.

One thing I have learned about beliefs is that you can’t learn enough about beliefs.  Beliefs direct our path and define our behaviors. 

Virtually every aspect of our lives is an extension of what we believe.  For example:

  • I sit in a chair because I believe it is going to hold me.
  • I vote a particular way because I believe one person is better than the other to lead the country.
  • I am not comfortable in social chit chat situations because I believe I am boring.
  • I wear old Converse All-Star shoes because I believe they look cool.  They’re also comfortable, I have other sneakers in my closet just as comfortable… but not as cool.

These beliefs I possess, may or may not in reality be true.  But, if I believe them to be true my behaviors follow.

Now here’s the interesting thing.  Some beliefs (probably the majority) are correct or at least ok, based on solid logic or information.  And most beliefs tend to revolve around your daily activities and don’t carry the weight of charting the course of our life.

But the scary thing is this, there are some beliefs we can possess that can be fundamentally in error and totally impact the course and quality of life.

As we talked about in the last blog, the sad reality is that people believe wrong messages… and live their life by those beliefs.

I ran across another quote that I found very interesting  I am not totally sure I believe it, but I find it thought provoking none-the-less.

“It takes a lot more energy to fail than to succeed, since it takes a lot of concentrated energy to hold on to beliefs that don’t work.”

- Jerry Gillies

Not only can beliefs be correct or incorrect, they also impact one another.  One stronger belief can override a lesser belief.

In the last blog I promised to unpack the topic of beliefs a bit more in today’s entry but I have faced a major dilemma – my raw inability to do justice to a topic as complex, important and powerful as the beliefs we hold. 

Side Note:  My head has been screaming, how in the world can I do justice to a topic of such enormity and importance?  What feeble insights can I provide?  Seriously!

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My writing on this topic today is a perfect example of the power of belief and how actions follow beliefs.

Those of you who have hung out with me for a while know that this blog thing is something that I believe I am to do. 

My belief that I am to write this overrides my belief that my insights may be shallow and fall short of a worthy topic.

I have worked hard at being willing to test my beliefs.  I find that if they are based on truth… real truth, they can stand the test of scrutiny.

Testing our beliefs is no easy task.  But hopefully I have heightened your awareness so as to cause you to stop, tilt your head in question, and ponder a belief.

On Thursday I will continue with the last part of the tattooed quote.

Later.


9
Jun 11

More Than Meets the Eye

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Yes, I know.  The picture above is disturbing, even repulsive.

I am sure many of you found it offensive and harsh, as did I at first glance.

If something is initially abrasive or offensive our natural instinct is to make a quick judgment and immediately separate oneself from the person or thing that offends.

Side Note: Maybe your separation from the irritant is to stop reading today’s blog because it makes you uncomfortable.

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Let’s face it, none of us likes our world to be disturbed.  We work hard to make our lives to be as pleasant as possible and to run smoothly.  This is a human innate default and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

But the reality is, regardless of how much we desire a life smooth and pleasant; abrasiveness, harshness, and discomfort have an important role in making our lives complete.

In fact, it is the abrasive things that smooth and polish our lives.

Chicago author and humorist Finley Peter Dunne (July 10, 1867 — April 24, 1936) felt compelled to write the following statement.

“Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

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John Kenneth Galbraith in the “London Guardian”, July 8, 1989 put it another way.

“In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.”

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Humm… does this mean that we are to intentionally bring affliction and discomfort on people who are comfortable in their ways, maybe, maybe not.

It is easy to see the rationale for afflicting comfortable people who’s ways are in error.

But what about afflicting those people who are comfortable and are not in error?  I believe there is a case to be made for afflicting these people under the right circumstances.  There are times when those you love and care about are trapped in a soft prison of comfort keeping them from a fuller, richer life.

If there is an appropriate occasion to be the purveyor of affliction, it should be neither casual nor self-serving.

Now, just so you know, I didn’t place the picture on this page for the purpose of causing you affliction or discomfort.  That was not my intent or calling for the day.

I posted it because upon a second deeper look I found this picture to be particularly striking, personally provocative… and somehow strangely compelling.

This simple picture has a lot to say… lots.

The phrase on the arm is an actual tattoo, not a quote made with a marker for the purposes of making an artistic statement.

The statement brash, vulgar, yet oddly insightful.

A tattoopainful, permanent, virtually irreversible.

On the upper underarm a tender place, yet hidden, odd.

Yes this picture has a lot to say.

To your chagrin I’m sure, I feel the need to unpack all of this a bit more on Monday.

Hopefully you will join me even though it may be a bit uncomfortable.

Humm… this discomfort may help polish you up a bit.

Ciao.


18
Apr 11

Lesson Learned… or Not Learned

Howdy.

I heard something a while back that has stuck around in my head.

You know… the kind of weighty thought that hangs around the edges and periodically pokes its head around the corner to let you know its still around.

Although not heavy, the presence of the persistent gentle weight over time demands attention… a closer examination.

So today is the day I take a closer look.

A teenage girl was being interviewed on television about a traumatic and challenging event in her life and how it impacted her.

Before I go further I have to get my embarrassment out of the way.  I neither know the girl’s name nor the details of her ordeal.  The TV was on in the background and I was only catching bits of her story about the tragedy she experienced and the blessings that have been realized as a result.

It was at the end of her interview when she made a statement that captured my attention and caused me pause.  She said…

“Things like I went through are the only times in life where lessons are learned after the test.”

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I don’t know about you but I think the statement is quite profound.  It has really made me think.

Our entire school experience is base on studying and then being tested to determine the level of retention.  You noticed I said retention.  Honestly I can’t think of many things in school (other than the basics of reading, writing, and math) that have served me directly in my life.

I learned facts and then try to regurgitate them at test time.

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit that I didn’t remember too many facts during test time.  The reason is simple… I didn’t study.

My grades were bad, really bad.  Let’s just say that I was in the half of the class that made the upper half possible.

But I digress; the kind of learning the girl was talking about is real world stuff.  The kind of learning that impacts the trajectory of one’s life.

Most of the challenges in life are not addressed by our academic prowess but the way we view the situation and the way we think.

Unfortunately life can offer some severe blows.  And let’s face it, some bad stuff we bring on ourselves and at other times it is thrust upon us without regard for who we are, how good we are, or how diligent we are about being responsible.

It’s life and life can be hard and seem very unfair.

We can spend a lot of energy bemoaning this reality and fearing the worst.  But that leads to and feeds the traps of fear and victimization.

I don’t pretend to know what you have gone through.  But then again you don’t know what I’ve experienced.  There is little value, if any, in sharing our war stories.

The greater issue is how well do we emerge from the war we experience.  What have we become?  What have we learned?

At these points in our life it doesn’t matter how we did at learning as we prepared for the test in school.

But now the issue is, how good are we at learning after the test has been given.

See you Thursday.


24
Mar 11

What keeps you from running?

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Hello, me again.

As you know, the last few blog entries we have been poking at the phrase “to move forward you must surrender something”.

Last time I talked about the challenge of giving up good things to move to greater things.

What I am about to say may sound absurd.  The greater challenge comes to those who must surrender bad things to move forward.  It’s more difficult and it takes more courage.

The obvious logic is if something is crappy in a person’s life they would eagerly surrender it for something better.

Logical yes… reality, no.

Everyone has bad stuff happen in their lives.  But like every experience in life (good or bad) it leaves a mark.

Some seem to have more than their share of bad stuff.  I don’t know why… they just do.  We could argue all day long as to the “why”.  Also it would be very easy to build a good case for how much bad stuff people bring on themselves.

The “why” is not the focus of this blog entry, and on one level, irrelevant.  I am focusing on the “how” of moving forward regardless of how the bad stuff got there.

Bad Stuff

This may sound silly but bad stuff is… bad stuff.  Bad stuff distorts, bruises, even cripples.

It is important to note that we are all bruised and crippled somewhere in our lives.  Of course, some people live with more crippling issues than others.

Here’s where it gets a little messy.  For example, it is easy for a person with healthy legs to stand up and run…  but not for a person with crippled legs.  What is effortless to one is a struggle for another.

For the person who can run it is very easy to be judgmental and to question the motivation of the person who can’t.   That’s especially true if the person shows no obvious injury.

True Confession: I am typically not a very judgmental person.  But I get pretty judgmental when I see someone who looks healthy park in a handicap spot.  I hate to say it, but it really bugs me.

I am sure you’re above that sort of thing… obviously I’m not.

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Now we are getting to the heart of why it is more difficult to surrender bad things than good things to move forward.

I contend that the extent of crippling is more perception than reality.  Let’s be real world here for a second.  There is no question that bad stuff injures and cripples.  But the greater crippler is the acceptance of a reality that is not real.  The belief that the “dye is cast” and life is what it is.

You start thinking crippled.

What magnifies the deception even more is if the bad stuff that crippled was self inflicted vs. imposed.  There is this morbid sense of “I deserve this” that adds to the crippling effect.

These self imposed beliefs become attached to us.  Like a ball and chain that drags along behind us serving as a reminder of… bad things… and our contribution.

The sad thing is that we have the key to the lock but many never use it.  Why?  Why would anyone want to keep something that slows our step and allows the crippled part of our lives to stay intact?

Sometimes there is a payoff to keeping the ball and chain.

We’ll talk about the payoffs on Monday.

Ciao


20
Jan 11

Snotty People

Howdy.

You know, people seem so hypersensitive these days.  What brought it to my attention is that I just completed an email and I found myself having to choose my words so carefully as not to offend anyone.  It wasn’t even an issue of consequence.

Personally, I believe I have the responsibility to be attuned to people and situations and work hard at approaching others in the most sensitive and appropriate way possible.

I do this for a couple of reasons.  First, I’m a nice person and I want to be sensitive to other’s needs.  The other reason is that I am lazy.  When dealing with people, particularly in a business setting, part of my goal is to minimize obstacles and resistance.

I found that if I am not sensitive and careful I end up spending extra time removing the obstacle and then the additional energy dealing with tender emotions.

But… the world is getting all screwed up.  What use to be the natural demands of relationships (learning about each other and being sensitive to each person’s particular needs and issues) has become a frustrating hassle.  This is because our society has morphed into a mass of hysterical, hypersensitive, self-centered, pansy butt cry babies.

Humm… that wasn’t very sensitive was it?  I’m embarrassed to say, but I don’t have much patience with such people.

Personally, I can find offense with virtually anything, and I don’t even have to look hard.  This may sound odd but I believe being offended is a choice.

I am of the opinion that most insensitive things are done out of ignorance not intent.  What this means to me is that some people choose to be offended when there was no intent and some people can choose not to be offended where there was intent.

Unfortunately our political environment has led the charge in both hypersensitivity and intent.

Side Note: Whatever your political persuasion you were probably thinking about the other side.  The reality is… both sides of the political spectrum are hypersensitive about silly stuff and both take mean shots.

A good indicator to me about the state of our hypersensitive society is that it is refreshing when I see someone of prominence choosing not to get caught up in the hype and choosing not to perpetuate the silliness.

As I said earlier, I believe most people (excluding politicians) don’t mean to be insensitive.  They are either not attuned or uninformed.

But, unfortunately there are other people in the world who are just outright snotty.  They are cruel and self-centered speaking and acting with the intent to hurt.

I don’t know what it is, but there are some people who feel it is their calling to set people straight.  They see themselves as the purveyor of truth and of course the preferred method of providing truth is a blunt object with the intent not for good but inflicting as much damage as possible.

Just so you know, there is a difference between wheeling truth and speaking truth.

I don’t know about you but I do want truth in my life and finding people who speak truth to you is a gift indeed.  Those who speak truth do so with intent also.  But the intent is to build, heal, support, encourage and challenge.

People who wheel truth use it as a convenient weapon.   People who use truth as a weapon are cowards.  It allows them to lean back with a smirk and brandish the all powerful comeback of, “I was only telling the truth.”

Regardless of the way something was presented we have a choice.  Personally I choose not to be offended.

So what do I need to learn from my ramblings today?

Humm… do you think that I could be hypersensitive to people who are hypersensitive?

See you Monday.


8
Nov 10

Color Me Gray

Hi, good to see you again.  I didn’t know you would want to be seen with me again after I revealed my teenage sortie into the world of dirty movies.

Okay, are you ready to step off the ledge with me again?  Here goes.

Today I address the fourth element that made the scenario with the crying girl (10/14 blog) so challenging.  For some reason this is the toughest for me.

Element # 4:  Race

If gender magnified the complexity a hundred times, race multiplied that a thousand times more.

The girl was black, I am white.  The only scenario where it would have raised more societal red flags would have been if the races were reversed.  Very sad and undeserved, but true.

This race thing has become a very confusing and heartbreaking issue to me.  And it makes me mad, really mad, and I don’t know what to do about it.

Side Note: I know that somewhere during this blog (if not already) I will offend someone… not from intention but ignorance.

If you are a black person reading this I will most likely say something insensitive or racist and not even know it.   Please accept my apologies.

If you are a white person… I’m sure I will offend you too.  Some may think that I’m making it a bigger deal than it needs to be and others will think that I should be more accepting and understanding.

The race topic is one of those subjects that top the Pucker Chart.   The Pucker Chart is any topic that when broached makes your butt pucker.  Things like politics and religion fall into the category also.

Personal Historical Context

Uggggh, I detest this full disclosure stuff.  Strangely I am much more embarrassed and ashamed to talk about my past regarding racism than I did talking about the sexual exploration as a teen in the last blog.

Growing up it was typical to use phrases that were derogatory toward lots of groups.  I hate to admit it but I used the “N” word and also derogatory names for other culture groups like the polish, Mexicans (Hispanic now), Indians (Native Americans now), Japanese (Asian now), etc.

I also told jokes at the expense of each of these groups.  Some really bad jokes, very embarrassing.

I am not a racist now… but then again I didn’t think that I was racist then.  Unfortunately that was state of our country at the time.  I am in no way justifying or legitimizing this behavior.  It is just a factor that feeds the complexity of the issue.

Another thing that feeds the complexity of racism is the justification that occurs when humor is used to poke at the differences between groups.  For example, I made jokes about people from the south, Canada, Yankees (not the baseball team), poor people, rich people, Catholics… basically anyone that was different.

I do know the difference between natural fun hearted bantering and harmful jabbing… intent.  Some people may try to make it a finer line than it is, but if you’re honest with yourself you know if there is an edge.

As I stated earlier, I am not racist.  But the reality is I am sure there are things of a racial nature that I am totally blind to.

Now is where I probably get into trouble.  I reflect on the racial division in our city, state and country.  Although there appears to be more opportunity, the divide seems to be greater than in the past.  So as a starting point I thought I would share some things that I feel pretty certain to be true.

I am certain that….

  • Racism is worse in the US than I think it is
  • Racism is not as rampant or bad in the US as some think it is
  • To change racism in our world it must start with me
  • It is my responsibility to be open and work on me regarding what I need to learn about my racism and not anyone else

The rest of the racial issue is up in the air.  I have some beliefs and I want to test those but I cannot say that I am sure about them.

But this I know… I am certain about my intent.  My heart is right even though my head may have some faulty assumptions and misinformation.

I do not want to prolong this topic but I will tackle a few beliefs in the coming blogs to see what I need to learn regarding racism.

See you Thursday.


18
Oct 10

Stop or Cop-Out

Hi there. 

Just so you know from the get go, I am not looking forward to writing this blog today.  I write it very reluctantly… but I must.

If you haven’t read the last blog entry you will need to take a look at it because this entry won’t make much sense if you don’t. 

Side Note:  Go ahead and read it.  We’ll wait on you.  We’ll just hang out here while you backtrack.  Maybe I’ll tell a joke while you’re gone.  Just be quick about it. 

 

Joke:  Did you hear about the scientist who got deeply depressed because his experiments continually failed?

He tried to cross watermelon and cauliflower and all he got was melancholy. 

Sorry.  Pretty bad huh?  I actually made that joke up. I know, I know, don’t worry, I won’t try that again.

 

Welcome back!

I honestly believe I made the first part of this blog light and trivial because, as I mentioned, I really don’t want to write on the topic.

As you read in my last blog I saw a young girl really hurting… my heart broke for her.  I didn’t feel I could do anything for her because of the dynamics I mentioned and so I just drove on. 

I want to drive on now but this time there is nothing stopping me.  If I keep driving now it is out of cowardice.  So I stop my usual blog blather and attempt over the next few days to unpack the event.

I have no illusions that my feeble perspectives will change the world.  It is not intended to.  Steve Jobs founder of Apple said that he wanted to make a ding in the universe.  I believe he has.  I do not have such lofty goals.  BUT… I do want to make a ding in you.

If we make enough dings in each other then maybe collectively we can move the world mean-o-meter down a notch or two.

There are a couple of things I need to say before I proceed.

  1. This blog is not intended to be (nor will be) a social or political commentary.  God knows we have enough of that.
  2. I feel totally inadequate tackling such complex and pervasive issues.  There are no new insights I can provide on this topic.  But I can share how it impacts me personally, just one person.  Just maybe it will be something that resonates with you.  When enough people resonate on the same frequency, the world vibrates.

 

Oh thank goodness… I am to the end of the computer page.  I usually type one page single space per blog entry. 

Side Note:  I asked my wife to read this and tell me what she thought.  She said it was good overall but the ending was a cop-out.  Yep.  Correct.  It is a cop-out.  Sorry if I disappointed any of you in me.  As you can quickly tell I’m not perfect. 

 

But the reality is, even if I may be able to put off the topic one more day, I must stop and engage.

Just to get your mind set in motion, in the next blog I plan on talking about the foundation or core of the issues… Evil. 

I will need my rest.  I think I am in for some heavy lifting.

See you Thursday.


4
Oct 10

Here, But Not All There

Howdy.

It will be pretty easy keeping up with me today.  I’m still moving pretty slow from all the poking, probing, cutting, piercing, sticking, pushing, pulling, and restraining… and that’s just from me shaving this morning, little lone the surgery I had last week.

I feel like a rusty 1983 Oldsmobile that runs on 3 cylinders with smoke pouring out the back and owned by a family of twelve from the hills of Kentucky.

I know, I know, I just offended a lot of Oldsmobile lovers out there.  Sorry about that.

So you can quickly see that I am not at full throttle today.

I am at a weird point in my recuperation.

  • I am getting bored but too distracted by my body to do anything productive.
  • I don’t hurt much and then move too quickly
  • I feel guilty not doing much then can’t focus well to get anything done
  • You can do a few things on your own but not enough to not be dependant on someone else at times
  • You don’t want anyone to hover but you don’t want to be left alone
  • Too out of it to read but tired of TV

Side Note: Speaking of TV, you know you’re watching too much TV when you have seen all the reruns (twice), you have 200 channels and nothing interests you and you begin to believe Oprah is actually talking to you.

So you may be asking, how can you write a blog when only half of the circuit board if functional?  The answer is slowly.  I type and rest, read and delete then type and wait.  And then you just hope that the sentences are somewhat coherent and the thoughts responsible.

Usually when I write a blog I try in some way to turn my thoughts and insights back on you in the hopes that you are stretched, moved or challenged.  Not today.  You’re on your own.

If you happen to pull out anything that is meaningful from today’s blog then you’re a better person than I am.  Or you may have a little too much time on your hands and you might want to consider backing off of your medications a bit.

Thanks for hanging out with me… but not hovering.

See you Thursday.