Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What you put in your mind is what you get out of it!

So what’s happened to cause this lack of brainpower and desire to be capable of critical thinking? Does it have anything to with the fact that in today’s Internet and social media driven culture that most of the reasons to think have been taken away? I no longer have to do research on a topic I just have to Google it and the topic unfolds before me. I didn’t have this good fortune when I was a teen or college student. Wikipedia didn’t exist so I had to actually go to a library and look at these strange little cards that directed me to BOOKS. I was a science major in college so I despised the library!

I admit that I haven’t visited a library in decades but I still read voraciously thanks to my wife’s imprint on my brain. What’s helped me continue to be someone who loves to think, analyze and converse is a desire to be a lifelong learner. I confess that I probably won’t buy a hardback book and my Ipad Air is my portable library to my wife’s dismay. Yet, what’s incredible about the Internet is that I can find new books to expand my mind and push my thinking abilities in minutes.

I truly believe that reading has become a last art for most and we only read out of necessity. It would seem that social media and music have taken front stage! So real question is whether my college friend will find a soul mate who too is capable of thinking on her own.

So if I put zero into my brain than I shouldn’t be surprised when not much comes out of it!

Party like a kid!

Instead of watching the beer flow we play Uno, Monopoly, go swimming amongst the 10 pools in the resort, eat pizza and enjoy a variety of snacks! It’s amazing to see the power of friendship over the years amongst our kids that have become teens now that we’ve been doing neighborhood work over 9 years. I love to bask in the laughter and silliness of these young adults that are overcoming the challenges of prejudice and racism, which they have grown up around. 

What’s happened to the ability of young adults and even us baby boomers to be able to celebrate life without using some type of mind-altering substance? Is it possible to actually converse and forget being glued to your x-box, PS-4 or texting and do something radical like talk, laugh and have fun together? It’s always exhilarating to watch our little kids enjoy the playground in our local park. They don’t need anything special to have fun and enjoy life.

So I would rather party like a kid, laugh about life and not allow the self-imposed pressures around me to stop me from living!

Monday, May 25, 2015

How do you find your soul mate?

I know my mom would be quick to say that behind every successful man is always an amazing woman! This could be a mom or the wife of your dreams. I had this fascinating conversation with a 19-year old guy whose one of my college interns. He expressed his frustration with trying to find a soul mate. He had come to the conclusion that looking for a GF was a dead end path. He had already experienced the reality that true beauty is much more than what one sees in the mirror! He was singing the blues because he hadn’t found anyone that was up to his standards and sensed maybe he would be the single celibate guy because of his personal convictions.
Yes, here is a young man who wasn’t interested strictly in a gal’s measurements or attire choice but her personal convictions and ability to do critical thinking. His conclusion after his freshman year in college is that there weren’t many females that exhibited the ability to think in a well thought out fashion. I challenged him initially to rethink his way of searching for his soul mate. I believe he had come to the conclusion that e-harmony, or wouldn’t do it for him.
So is it foolish for someone to have high standards and end up being alone? My friend’s personal assessment was that he would rather wait for his true soul mate than compromise his convictions to hook up with someone that ultimately would walk away from him because of being so vastly different after the chemistry wore off. I encouraged him to stick to his moral, spiritual and intellectual grid. I said that ultimately God would help him find his special friend that would become his partner in life!
My story, which I can relate to how he feels, is that I found my soul mate when I was 19 and we have been married almost 42 years. I quickly shared my journey of how I had also given up on the GF and dating vehicle as the path to finding my soul mate. I had sworn off in my freshman messing around with another’s heart and feelings. It was more selfish that I didn’t want to get hurt anymore. So I made a vow to myself to be content with being myself until the right person came along my path.
I have too many friends that are my age that are discontent singles who are still trying to find themselves and thus aren’t able to find a soul mate. So our discussion went back to my complimenting my young friend about the fact that he did have awesome convictions and a real passion in life that he ought not let fall to the wayside because of someone’s ‘neckline’ or perfume! We ended up talking about how one practically looks for their soul mate? Typically it means you hang out at gathering places like bars, clubs or for him church.
I believe that it’s more important to work on your own life’s goals and passions than get caught up in pursuing the meat market as my wife would express about her opinion of the bar scene or even singles’ church scene. Yet, why is it the case that too often we go looking for love in all of the wrong places then are shocked when the person we find in that ‘bad place’ doesn’t meet our expectations after a few months of hanging out?
Our conclusion was that it was more essential to discover your passion in life before you go out looking for your soul mate. My friend will still struggle with being alone but has learned at a young age that contentment with keeping your convictions is more important that finding a ‘hot babe’! This isn’t to say that he wouldn’t find an intellectually and spiritually together woman who is truly beautiful on the inside as well as the outside!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Don’t overlook the little things in life!

Often my wife will chide me and say LOOK UP as we are walking the dogs to see the incredible clouds in the morning or at night it would be the stars. I’m reminded that too often I walk around with my head down or focused on my iPhone.  It was doing something simple like making your wife or kids breakfast that they will remember later in life. My mom went out of her way to make the little things in life special!

I get it that in today’s sex driven culture that everything is too often about looks and feelings that when you do something rather normal you might feel slighted or let down. I’ve discovered that it’s when I hold my Anne’s hand or our feet touch at night reminds me how special the little things in life truly happen to be. The difficulty is that I see too many movies or T.V. shows that make me fanaticize about the supposed big things. The difficulty is that too often I assume that the big things in life will make me happy or satisfied. Yet, the reality is that too often they leave me empty on the inside.

My mom was someone that was a living example of making the ordinary things in life extraordinary. So every time we had dinner it was good food that became extraordinary because of the little things she would do. My wife is the same when it comes to creating a sense of family and community where the little extras make all of the difference.  I admit that its still tempting to be drawn to the dark side of big things that always give me a sense that if I did buy this or accomplish that my life would be so much better.

What I laugh at so often is that during family trips it wasn’t the destination that mattered but being together! My kids who are all now grown would still talk about our marathon vacation that went from Phoenix to Utah, Yellowstone, Lewis & Clark Caverns, Glacier, Glasgow, Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Caverns, etc… it was 5K miles in a little over 2 weeks.

Yes! The little things in life are truly the BIG things that make life special!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Most important life lesson – STAND BACK UP!

Today I had the privilege of attending a young friend’s graduation from college. What made this day stand out was that most graduating were middle aged and had experienced many ups and downs in their lives. I’m sure if I where to interview them and ask what was the most important life lesson for them it would be to not allow the little upsets in life to stop you from standing back up and finishing. It was so exciting to hear from the crowd, Yeah Mom, Grandma or Grandpa YOU DID IT!

I can remember as a youngster being captivated by superman or batman T.V. shows. I truly believed for a short time that I could leap tall buildings, run faster than a speeding bullet or locomotive and someday have my own batmobile. Then reality hit me that the most important thing in life isn’t winning but being able to stand back up after I fell down.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the winning and success mindset that you miss out on life’s most important gifts. Yes, when I’m transparent enough to let others see my weaknesses and skinning my knees than I become a real person. Life takes on a different focus where relationships become more important than my possessions or position in the workplace, community or even my church.

I will always remember my son’s learning curve with riding his first bike without training wheels. He will always accuse me of being sadistic but I understood that he had to have his own experience of riding knowing that he would dump the bike a few times. Yes it was on that Saturday afternoon that we went to the park across the street from our house. Yes, I confess, I gave him a little push on the bike to get him going. Unfortunately, amidst the laughs, we watched him ride like the wind and then collide with a bush or was it a tree.  Yes, this seemed to scare my son but he did learn how to ride his bike and got back up many times since then.

My friend who graduated is an amazing role model of someone who faced extreme circumstances in her life. She was initially raised in an abusive home where she saw and experienced the unmentionable. It was when her aunt rescued her that life had the potential to change. The difficulty was the memories of the past could have easily crippled her from staying in school and finishing. Yet, she in many ways is my superhero that chose to stand back up and not let her past keep her down. 

So if you fell down yesterday please get back up today!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why do differences always stop us from being kind?

One of the more tragic aspects in life is watching people who you love but don’t share much in common end up being at odds with yourself and others! Why is it the case that people that are passionate about politics, religion, education reform or even the PC vs. MAC war end up being mean or even brutal to each other? I’m often humbled by the fact that people who claim to be Christians and share much in common with me are easily upset and even annoyed if I don’t agree 100% with them.

It amazes me that we are so quick to focus on what divides us instead of what we share in common. I understand the reason that conformity or homogeneity creates a sense of security for most. When we are thrown into a situation that is unfamiliar or clearly different from our present perspective on life we question, argue and ultimately decide whether the relationship is viable. Yet, usually the goal of my relationships in this context isn’t to understand unfortunately but to persuade someone over to my side, which clearly is the correct side! The challenge is that this usually doesn’t happen and we walk away too often at odds or at war with a work place friend, neighbor or family member.

My mom was always quick to remind me to be nice or kind to everyone and especially the person that I didn’t see eye to eye. The reality is when I walk away from an argument with someone I’m usually mad and hold a grudge. My mom would remind me often about the Bible’s admonition to live at peace with everyone as best as is possible. So is it possible to be kind and thoughtful to the person who holds a view that you believe to be totally off base?

Do you live by the golden rule where you believe that for you to be treated fairly you have to treat others fairly? So what happens when you show kindness to someone and they are ungrateful or actually rude or crude to you? I confess that too often I treat someone a certain way so that I can get what I want from them. The reason why most people aren’t kind to those that are different from them is the false assumption that someone that holds a contrary view to theirs has to be bad or evil!

I’ve had the most amazing experiences at time where I have met someone who is the polar opposite of me. The initial reaction is that there isn’t any possible way we could be friends or actually carry on a beneficial conversation. Yet, in many circumstances I’ve discovered that this person who I might not agree with their life style choices becomes a friend. I’ve learned from my mom’s example to look beyond our differences and see the good in the other person and in time see that we do share much in common. The difficulty is that too often we are too shallow in our basis for understanding a person and are too quick to jump to conclusions about their personal integrity.

Maybe it’s time to show kindness to the person that doesn’t agree totally with your passions and views in life! Imagine the impact this would have on your mood and energy level tomorrow? It takes way more energy to frown than it does to smile J