“Prudence is the proficiency of grasping reality correctly”


Prudence is the proficiency
of grasping reality correctly
and of deciding and acting accordingly:
both aspects are part of prudence
(the first is easily overlooked).

~ Christoph Schonborn

My 4 year old has a flair for the dramatic (understatement). She has picked up the habit of using clarifying statements to create apocalyptic outcomes. Take this actual, recent conversation for instance.

“Momma, can we have macaroni and cheese with dinner?” I reply, “No honey, I am making mashed potatoes.”
Her clarifying statement is, “You mean you are never going to feed me ever again!?”

Um, not what I said. At all.

Interestingly enough, we adults do this all the time, with the humor factor usually left wanting. A situation occurs and we immediately assume the worst in the intention, meaning and position of the involved party. Challenges arise and we find the failures, pitfalls and deal breakers that must obviously accompany the unforeseen hiccup.

The truth is that all situations depend heavily on perception and accurate assessment. And when I say “heavily”, I mean nearly exclusively. Think about road accidents in areas you were supposed to have been had it not been for a flat tire, busted shoe or sick child. Think of the chance encounter with an old friend that only happened because you had to divert off schedule because of a mistake, omission or plan change. I remember being able to stand with those around me and applaud a group of tired soldiers coming home from defending my freedom. I was only there because of a delayed flight.

Today, I encourage you to love them mashed potatoes – at least at first. Those moments in our lives deserve the benefit of the doubt. They deserve the opportunity to blossom into unforeseen blessing. Many times our missteps are not products of tough situations or mistakes. Instead they are the result of our inability to correctly judge the journey to begin with. Whether you curse the rain because your suit is getting ruined or you dance in the puddles, flowers are still going to bloom – it is up to us on if we enjoy the moment or overlook the beauty.

Thanks for the coffee,

Invincible Summer Within

In the depth of winter,
I finally learned that
within me there lay
an invincible summer.

~Albert Camus

I almost hesitate to mention again what you already know. Times, they are a’changing – and these are some bumpy roads. You know it, I know it. It goes on all around us and regardless of what the ominous “they” try to tell us, we don’t know what is really going to happen next.

I hesitate because honestly, who needs world wide circumstances to make for a difficult situation? Even in the best of times, we each experience challenges and heart break. There is little to be gained by blaming a circumstance or cycle. It takes nothing more than being human to guarantee the occurrence of strife and difficulty. We are not challenged because we live in these times. We are challenged because we live at all.

And we love to look at these challenges and tout, “Now we will see what we are made of!” And that is wonderful. A formed blade spends a great bit of time in the fire. And we take these obstacles and declare triumph at their conquering. The flag in the mountain peak. Thumb our nose at the valley. And our pride swells because we have been tested and found capable.

But in the throes of fear and anxiety, we forget the adrenaline of the start and the satisfaction of the finish. When the battle has waged longer than planned and the difficulties more than anticipated, the excitement of the sport wanes and our fragility becomes more apparent. It is in that exposure of our frailty that we experience doubt of success.

Today I encourage you know that regardless of the sensitivity of the fragility, the warrior within you is still invincible. Invincible. It cannot be broken – only sacrificed or abandoned. We have within each of us the perseverance to maintain, thrive even, in the most destitute of circumstances. Easy? Probably not. But possible. The way is often shrouded in overgrown brush and is hard to find and navigate. But it is there. The summer, the fire, that passion, is indeed invincible. Get your dancing shoes ready. We are going to need them.

Thanks for the coffee,

Photo Credit to Dar’ya Sipyeykina

Yeah, We Got It – You Can Get Belligerent : #trust30 Challenge

This is the Day 10 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge.

This is the second #trust30 post at MLWFY. You can find an explanation for Day 7 and the post for Day 8 over at My Beautiful Chaos. Day 9 was Tweeted.

Day 10 Challenge | Eric Handler | Your Personal Message

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?

I understand that being a media junkie can have a negative effect on one’s personal outlook. Oh well – I will just have to remain vigilant. I am an information junkie. I am always on the lookout for a new story, a new view, a new blog, new method, whatever – well, at least new to me.

Living with immediate access to internet and a 24 hour news cycle, this is an easy monkey to feed. But the personal outlook assault is a very real danger. I am not going to name drop those who I feel to be the first offenders – you already know who they are. They never show up to promote anything. But man, they are always looking to tear something down – bashing, fighting, condescending, insulting, slandering, disrespecting, offending. Never mind that they do more to fuel separation, constrain ideas and stunt progress – they just continue to rip away. Nice – that works, we should keep doing that (sarcasm intentional).

I will be the first to admit that there are things that I don’t like I have no problem naming them – The sexualization of today’s children (namely girls) being on top of the list. Ask most people who know me if I can be a snarky smart…well you know…and they will laugh and say, “duh!” I am opinionated and passionate. I believe in a right and a wrong and understand that the gray has to be muddled through. I understand that injustices must be named in order to be righted.

I get it – you can be belligerent. But can you be benevolent?

It makes me nervous when I realize I am dealing with a person about whom I am not sure of the answer. I tend to disassociate when I realize the answer is “no.”

Now, I will name drop. The wrongs of the world are a fact of life. Wasting time and energy raging against their existence is futile – not to mention soul sucking. These folks know that things can be better. They have decided to spend time and energy doing that. The wrongs of the world stir the belligerent in their soul. The goodness of their hearts harnesses that energy into positive creation. And isn’t that the highest and best use of our energy – not to mention soul filling?

Mothers Fighting for Others – Yes, I will mention them as often as I can. This group of fighters saw the injustice. They chose to focus on creating an environment of love, support and empowerment.  Can we rage against the injustice that brought these children to this place? Sure. But what about these children? They need light now – and that’s what MFFO provides. A light, a love, a hope.

What I want for them is simple. I want them to feel loved. I want them to feel safe and secure. I want them to go to school and grow up to be great women. What I want for them is what their Mothers would have wanted. That is it. It’s that simple.

Creative Coast – Those who don’t know Savannah wouldn’t believe half of it if we told you. Like any family, we have our issues – we are working on that. Creative Coast has done amazing things in feeding the diversity and beauty of our beautiful city. The mission statement reads:

To nurture the members of the Savannah community engaged in creative or innovative endeavors and to cultivate an environment in which they can thrive.

Nurture, cultivate, thrive – seriously? How can that NOT be exponentially more effective that continually attempting to condescend and destroy?

Dinner: A Love Story – I love to cook. I have a big family, a big job and little unscheduled time. Some days, getting dinner on the table from something other than a bag or a box might as well be as challenging as milking the cow, churning the butter, killing the chicken and picking the vegetables. But I want to. Lots of us want to.

Meet Jenny Rosenstrach. This chick gets it

DALS is a website devoted (mostly) to helping parents figure out how to get family dinner on the table. You can assume I know how busy you are and how many other things are ahead of “thaw chicken for dinner” on today’s to-do list. I will never fault you for firing up a frozen pizza when you can’t bear to turn on the stove. I will never judge you for not coughing up the extra bucks for the organic broccoli. And I will never promise you that family dinner is something that can be figured out in five easy steps!

Yeah, she could belittle parents like me as parasites attempting to kill the children we secretly loathe. Curse us working moms who put career ahead of family. That would mostly certainly encourage me to listen to anything she has to say, right! Yeah, right after I daydreamed about punching her in neck, I would go find some other cooking momma to appreciate.

TED – Hands down, this group is the best example of building up instead of tearing down. Will TED call out wrongs? You bet they will. Do all the TED folks agree with each other? Nope. Do I agree with every TED idea? Haha – for certain not. But agreement is not necessary for meaningful discussion of ideas. Sharing a value of mutual respect is. And these folks have that crafted to an art. From the website and repeated on their facebook page:

TED believes passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So TED is building a clearinghouse of knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

Want to get belligerent – fantastic. Can’t wait to hear how that works out for you.

Want to do the really work of benevolence – fantastic. There is certain to be some effectual influence you are going to be proud of.

**Photo credit by Nancy McClure

Consider the Alternative

 

We can’t solve problems by using
the same kind of thinking
we used when we created them.

~Albert Einstein

 

I would be lying if I said the government was not the first thing I thought of when I read today’s quote. However, now that I have been intellectually honest, I feel comfortable going on with my next two thoughts.

First, problems don’t “just happen.” They are, at all times, fully created by an outside source. Sometimes it is a third-party. Sometimes it is of our own doing. Sometimes, it is merely our perception of the situation. What ever way you slice it, “we” create them – there is no spontaneous occurrence of “problem”.

I hear you getting all anxious about this “blame” and “guilt”. Quit, seriously, quit. Unless you are a deviant of society, you are, in essence, a good person. Good people screw up, kinda the nature of being human. Good people can’t typically see into the future or know all variables. Therefore, despite your best efforts, things sometimes go a bit wacky. It’s ok. Good people can’t know the purpose of all things. Sometimes problems aren’t really problems – feel free to chew on that one for a while.

Second, insanity is (come on, you’ve heard this one – also by Al) doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. If your way of thinking is working – great! Keep doing that until it doesn’t. If it already doesn’t, then why are you still doing it?

We are dynamic individuals living in a dynamic environment. What was appropriate yesterday may be a bit different today. Our approach to challenges should be as nimble as we are. Moving, shaping, reworking – think telegraph vs. twitter. We can adapt and re-purpose.

Today, I encourage consider the alternative. What if it’s not a problem? What if it is really a problem or what if something in my thought pattern created it? I offer that it is what it is – now decide what you would prefer that it be. What thoughts move you towards that? If those thoughts have to get different, let’s get different. But let’s not get bogged down in complacency, guilt, fear or ego. If mediocre is normal, let’s be different. If a different perspective moves the train, it is worth a shot. Come on, if Einstein said it…

Featured Photo from Stefan Insam

Wisdom Trumps Fear

Those who have no compassion have no wisdom.
Knowledge, yes; cleverness, maybe; wisdom, no.
A clever mind is not a heart.
Knowledge doesn’t really care.
Wisdom does.

~The Tao of Pooh

The rapture, as far as I can tell, did not happen. For those who haven’t heard, it was supposed to happen on Saturday with the end of the world following in October. There is now a large group of people who have quit their jobs, not paid their mortgages, spent their life savings – all in preparation.

In other news, the Westboro Baptist Church protesters are in my neck of the woods. Lucky us. Looks like Savannah’s tourism draw worked too well this time.

In truth, there has (with easy pickings) been a great deal of fun and resentment poked at both of these groups – myself included. I don’t like it when I get like that. When I am honest with myself, there is always fear hiding out in negativity.

Mostly, I am fearful that people who have found their spiritual center, are looking for their way or are just coexisting with folks who believe differently will use the hate spewed by the latter or the failure of the former to stitch together a blanket that covers up everything. I often have to remind myself that wayward or deplorable actions that come from a sect of people under a banner of goodness, are typically a perversion of the banner created by the few – not a true representation of the banner.

I am fearful that these activities just become “one more thing.” A 24 hour news cycle is a hard thing to shield ourselves against. “If it bleeds, it leads” was tough enough when news was confined to its time slot. Now that it is in your face, discussed, dissected, commentated, speculated, hashed and rehashed – it is easy to let the negativity get in and hurt. It becomes easier to say, “It figures. Stupid people, stupid system, stupid ideas. The whole outfit is going to the dogs!” It takes effort to reason through it, one more time. It takes strength to endure and believe, one more time. It takes mental clarity to recognize that this “one more thing” will fail to create jadedness, one more time.

Today, I encourage you to love the deep thought. Refuse to take things on the surface and delve into the deeper recesses of what actually lies there. There is a lot to be said for gut reactions – I believe in them completely. The trick is the correct interpretation of that reaction. Negativity is always rooted in something else. Follow it far enough down, there will be fear. It is my belief that wisdom trumps fear. Fear just has the advantage of being scary. My inner Warrior ain’t scared. It is wise enough to move through this one more thing.


Featured Photo from contemplativechristian

Can, Have, Are

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

First, indulge me a moment to use this platform to say “Happy Birthday” to the best Momma in the whole world. Yes, I am talking about mine. She is my best friend, my strongest shoulder and my greatest reason to believe that I will age beautifully. I know this small space of print is not much – but it is what I can, with what I have, where I am.

Next, let me announce excitedly that my Pops is going to cut his hair. Sounds like a small thing until I tell you he hasn’t cut it since 9/11. He swore he wouldn’t until they got bin Laden. 11 years later, he is taking to the scissors. Is it a huge deal? It is to me, but maybe not to some. But it was what he could, with what he had, where he was.

Most assuredly let me heap mounds of praise on our service men and women, SEAL Team 6 notably. There are various jobs within our armed forces. All are important, I’ll bet even the SEAL Team will tell you that they can’t do what they do without countless other ancillary folks doing what they do. More or less important? Nah, they just do what they can, with what they have, where they are.

I also appreciate my real estate, builder, business community. These folks, regardless of public opinion and economic woes, continually use their knowledge, resources and expertise to the highest and best use. They are on a mission to create better lives for their families while working with their clients to do the same. This is not always easy – for the business community or their clients. Pick up any newspaper and you will see that. But we all work together to do the best we can, with what we have, where we are.

Today, I encourage us all to assess what we can, with what we have, where we are. Events have a tendency to be over stimulating and inflated. We tend to become overwhelmed at our own self perceived smallness and inability. The truth is there is a better choice and opportunity for each of us. In and around each of us is the ability and resource to effectuate positive change. The event may be of such magnitude that it feeds villages, brings renewed peace and heals the sick. It may just bring a smile to my Momma’s face. I consider neither a small accomplishment. We do what we can, with what we have, where we are – and that is the instrument of greatness.

*Featured photo credit ~ Stephen Eastop
*Roosevelt Photo – Public domain

The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation

Just finished listening to the unabridged audio version of Jay Elliot’s new release, The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation. The summary – read it. It’s worth the 7 hours of audio or the 256 pages of text.

Some of the other details…

The hardest part about reading the book is the obvious man crush Elliot has on Steve Jobs. Elliot has drunk the Apple kool-aid with be a big shot of “Steve Jobs is akin to the second coming.”

Is that to say Apple isn’t great…of course not. They obviously are. I am a die-hard PC girl…but when I have the disposable income to totally change platforms, I will consider it. Not interested in being a hybrid – but I digress.

Is that to say Steve Jobs isn’t great…of course not. Steve Jobs is one of my favorite quote sources. His innovation, perseverance and vision are amazing.

But Elliot’s book verges on a love letter. In fact, it ends with just that. A love letter to Steve Jobs thinly disguised as professional appreciation and challenge.

However, the insight Elliot offers into the well-spring of examples to be gleaned from the technological icon are worth the bias. And to be fair, I guess if I had worked closely with an individual of Jobs’ status, I may gush a bit too.

The most interesting thing about the book is I believe each person will grab something different. Depending on background, industry, position ~ the book will read different to each reader. I think this because I hear it a few different ways myself. Because my background has spanned military to entrepreneur, the ideas offered sounded different and created interesting conversations with myself.

There are some really neat stories contained in the book. Things about Pixar, IBM, Sony, Cannon and Disney that I had never really heard about before. The nuggets of business and development history were kinda cool to hear about. I was appreciative of them. They will serve me well on Jeopardy or at the next dinner party where we play the “did ya know” game.

But at its root, the book is about the practical application of passion, boldness and relentless belief in the journey. That is where the magic is and that is what makes any other criticism moot.

Through the activity of Steve Jobs, we see a young man who never looks afraid – even if he is. We see an innovator who refuses to settle for mediocre in his product and in his people. He is passionate about his vision. He, as described by Elliot, is the ultimate consumer. His vision is to create the most amazing experience for himself as possible. In turn, he believes it will revolutionize the world.

Elliot’s recollections of some of Job’s game changing moments remind us that boldness goes a long way. Small change requires small action. But big change, that takes something else all together.  But it isn’t like this is something we don’t already know. However, it is something we get real funny about putting into place. And that is understandable. Those things can, and should, be a real gut check. It is a confidence booster to learn how someone else handled their bold moves. You can see that it can be done and one approach to doing it. You see that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but status quo can’t always be Plan A.

And the “work” versus “doesn’t” is no doubt important. But it can’t be the most important. The most important must be the journey to “how do we make it work?” Not only that but, “does it matter if it works?” That journey cannot be about going through the motions and allowing whatever to just be whatever. Is it smart? Is it purposeful? Does it make life easier? Is it just clutter? Is it cool?

There’s other stuff in the book too – building and motivating a team, maintaining product and branding control, how to walk out of a company and reclaim it again, super cool “hey Ma, watch this!” kinda stuff. For sure not a waste of time.

[Jobs] believes that “half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

“You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don’t blame them. It’s really tough and it consumes your life.”

You have to be “burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.” If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.

 

Today’s Superhero Cape

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
– C. S. Lewis, author

One of the easiest things to do is to feel like a failure. Not good enough or smart enough or fast enough…the list goes on. Always watching other folks just to find more things I am lacking. How come I can’t pull that off or participate in that or be involved with that? Where is my superwoman cape?
Fortunately for me, I have the opportunity to discuss these thoughts with a couple a really smart women. During one such conversation, I had an epiphany. I am a wife, a business owner and the mother of four children under the age of 12. There’s my superwoman cape. This is the stage of my life I am in. These are the things that I concentrate on. Leaving the other stuff alone does not create failure – it demonstrates priorities.

In eight too short years, I will be the mother of 4 children between the ages of 10 and 20. That is a totally different place than where I am now. That stage of my life will have its own set of priorities, commitments and challenges. My superwoman cape will change, but it will still be mine.

Today I encourage you to appreciate your cape. At least for today – or the next five minutes – realize that you don’t do it like everybody else because you are unique. While your warrior cannot accomplish all things, the ability to accomplish all things meant for you is there in truckloads. You are perfectly positioned for your journey in this point. Run tomorrow’s race tomorrow. Enjoy today’s events now. It is the only thing you can truly wrap your arms around.

Hey There Parents

It is almost that time of the year again. You can always tell when it is fixing to happen. Bouncing, over excited, giddy, homework forgetting kids are preparing to roar into their summer vacation.

I am looking forward to my kids having a good time. They can’t take themselves to the pool or the park or the beach – so I get to go all those places too. Wonderful benefit.

However, I also worry about the summer brain rot. Three months is a long break from the 3 R’s. And they are expected to fall right back into the swing of things at the beginning of the next school year.

So, my question today is – What kind of activities and learning resources will you use to for your kids this summer?

Special Thanks to Julien Tromeur for the superhero graphic

Just say “Thanks”

“I work with wonderful people who support me. And, my beliefs are that the business needs to serve the family rather than the family serve the business.”
– Kathy Ireland, Model and Entrepreneur

I feel like I have been disconnected from the friends that believe in me the most. Lately, I haven’t been able to stop for coffee, schedule a lunch or make quite as many “hey how are you doing” phone calls. Keeping it together in these interesting times has taken some serious focus.

That’s the funny thing about focus. While totally necessary to excel in an area, it can put a damper on other ones – like noticing the people around you. You see, while I may feel disconnected, I actually am not. And realizing that is nothing short of a compliment to those around me without whom I could do nothing.

Lately, I have not been the supporter or the giver or the provider. Hence, the feeling of disconnect. I have been the needer and the taker. That has, in all honesty, led to some paranoid inadequacy feelings. However, what a slap in the face to those who are taking their time and effort to be there for me. Support comes from those who can out of goodwill not out of a need to create guilt in the receiver.

Today I encourage you to say just “Thank you.” No qualifiers, no fillers, no “oh you shouldn’t have how can I ever repay you” platitudes. Simply thank you. Stripped down, naked, pure gratitude. Appreciation that fills you up with what you needed and honors the person who is offering the gift. Watch, I’ll go first.

Thank you.

Two Months?!?!
Seriously?!?

Yes, seriously. It has in fact been two months since the last edition on TAT hit cyberspace. You have my sincerest apologies. But, I have no regrets.

TAT went on an unplanned hiatus due to the work overload of the producer. Something had to give – TAT was it.

Once TAT ceased to enter mailboxes, I started to get phone calls. What wonderful phone calls they were! You have no idea how much the encouragement to move forward and the support in my decisions meant to me.

As of May 1st, I have hired a full time assistant and she is fantastic! Just in the few days she has been in the office, I have seen a dramatic difference in, well, everything.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

Start with the First Step

Moving through the introduction of the Happy For No Reason course, I have finally put my finger on the thing that drives me nuts about the course. Now that we have gotten past the introduction, we now start moving through the steps. I am an attack and conquer person – I hate the steps.

Now, understand that I already recognize that this is not a flaw in Marci’s work. It is a flaw in my discipline. It is a result of my microwave popcorn generation. The steps are necessary. The success is in the work through – not the skip around.

So, I am attempting to move through the steps instead of skipping around to the parts I think I need the most right now. And Marci certainly has it set up in steps that makes sense.

The steps to increasing your happiness set point is equated to the building of a house. The first step, therefore, is the establishment of the foundation. This step has always had point that resonated with me. During this session, Marci talks about changing habits. Within this session, there is a discussion about our choices and the idea of the quarter second gap. The idea is that there is a gap of time in between an urge and an action. It is the point of time of choice. It is where the power to live a happier life resides waiting to be tapped into.

So, here is my quarter second gap decision. I will fight the urge to skip around and glean from the corners. I will not give into my hyper reaction that says I can move faster through the material and still get the same results. That is my solid foundation. That is my first step.