Judgement, Forgiveness and the Art of Getting Out of Your Own Head

 

I’m not judging people, I’m judging their actions.
It’s the same type of distinction that I try to apply to myself, to judge, but not be judgmental. 

~Jeff Melvoin

 

Hey y’all. Did you miss me? For those of you who noticed I was silent last week, my apologies for the unexpected hiatus. If you didn’t notice, that’s fine too. I have not yet achieved the position where I take myself so seriously.

To save space, I won’t get into the eleventy billion things going on in my little corner of the world. I will say that this column is written nearly real time. And by the time I realized it needed to be written, it was really too late. And honestly, it wasn’t something I really wanted to make time for. So I made the choice.

I felt a bit guilty about that. Moreover, I got a bit nervous about what folks would think. I don’t know about you, but I can recall in full living color almost every mistake, misstep, small fault, discrepancy, deficiency, perceived or otherwise, that I have ever had. I assume that every one else does too. Ridiculous as it sounds, any moment that I fall short creates a whirlwind of judgement calling up every past moment where I wasn’t quite enough. It’s a fun time. Really.

I have made a conscience decision to alter that natural response. It is not the easiest thing I have ever done and it takes a fair amount of effort and intention. However, a big bonus is the effect it has on my ability to deal with people. Because I have learned so much about being kinder to myself and the truth about perception and reality, it is far easier to extend the same latitude to others around me.

Today, I encourage you to tell the witch voice in your head to take a hike. This nag is useless. We are all imperfect people. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we are fortunate to do them in private. Sometimes the whole world is watching. Either way, we aren’t the first person to screw it up. And outside of ourselves and folks who are just looking for a reason to pull you down, no one really remembers all that other stuff anyway – they are too busy remembering their own. Understand the nag will return. That voice is kinda persistent that way. It is not another statement of failure, but another chance to exercise strength. These tough moments are not evidence of failed person, but of the humanity that makes us resilient.

Thanks for the coffee,

*Photo Credit to Tim Hyde

Nothing is Better Than Sisters – Even When We Are Different

 

Love is the ability and willingness
to allow those that you care for
to be what they choose for themselves
without any insistence that they satisfy you.

~Wayne Dyer

I am a bit under the weather and somewhat foggy in the head. So, I am taking the easy way out and focusing today on that one thing that makes me happy without having to think about it – my family.

We have a big family. We are scattered to three of the Earth’s four corners. Fortunately that doesn’t make us any less close-knit. My baby sister and family is in from Germany. I got to meet the child that was named after me. We also found out she is about to make our family another baby bigger. My middle sister shocked and awed with her surprise visit. Talk about delighting a house full of hearts.

While there are obvious similarities amongst the three sisters, there are obvious differences. We birth and parent our children different. We love our parents different. We enjoy down time different. Clothes, music, hobbies, food, weather – different.

Different – not bad, wrong or negative – just different. Does the different sometimes cause conflict? Sure, but between sisters, anything can cause conflict. Heck, we will make it up if it has been too long!

More often than not, different creates wondrous moments of discussion and invitation into the hearts of those that are closest to us. Different allows for beautiful moments of sharing and understanding. Theses differences move us to a place where we love each other more deeply for who the other is wholly instead of who they are positionally. I grow in love for them because I know them better as people – not simply out of sisterly obligation.

Today, I encourage you to embrace the different. Assess your initial gut reaction when you hear the word. Say it out loud – “different.” Is that exciting, positive, negative, scary, uncertain, apprehensive, neutral, something else entirely? Consider whether your disposition to the idea of different leaves you open to the possibilities or guarded against the unknown or misunderstood. Then reflect on whether or not your notion of different enriches or depletes. What a wonderful resource of growth and expansion can exist in those things which are outside of our normal.

Thanks for the coffee…

**Yep that’s us 🙂

Beauty in Solitude, Company, Diversity and Dynamic

There are days when solitude is
a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom,
others when it is a bitter tonic,
and still others when it is a poison
that makes you beat your head against the wall.

~Colette

Okay all you introverts, hang with me through this first idea and I will get back to you on the second.

I am an extrovert. I will continue when the loud haws of feigned disbelief subside. It’s just the truth of it – I love talking, interacting, sharing, watching, knowing, being around people. I am fairly certain it is deep-rooted inside of my DNA.

I was in my 30’s before I even began to consider the benefits of occasionally choosing solitude. And there are many. It hasn’t been until very recently that I have been able to participate in this foreign art and enjoy its fruits. In this age of constant connectivity and information availability, even the introvert can constantly surround himself with people with minimal effort.

There is a lost appreciation (or in my case an unknown one) for that time you spend with that one person you need to know best – yourself. Developing an understanding of another person takes intention and focus with little distraction. Keeping in touch with your inner compass is no different.

Alrighty introverts, idea two. Because our preferences change and adjust from time to time, does not make a statement on our devotion or character. It is painful to watch a dynamic person continually attempt to keep themselves in a static box because of expectations – either from themselves or others. I find it amazing when folks who adore and celebrate diversity and eclecticism everywhere else fail to see the beauty of it in themselves.

Like to be alone today, with a whole gaggle tomorrow and a few close friends the day after that? Great – all normal. There is nothing wrong with a varying desire for interaction. It does not make you a loner, attention starved, elitist, unable to be by yourself, uncomfortable in your own skin, wishy washy, recluse – or any other label others attempt to put on you so they can feel more comfortable with the dynamic.

Today, I encourage you to take inventory of your own inner dialogue. Do you talk with yourself enough? Do you listen? Do you allow for the time you need to check in with your inner compass to ensure you are still tracking? Yes? Great. Move forward into your next interaction at whatever level that might be. No? Great (there is no judgement here). Consider if this is the best course of action. If it works, beautiful. If not, take that time for yourself and go ahead and decide upfront that you are not going to let other people’s perception of this move throw you off your game.

Thanks for the coffee…

**Featured Photo from Jose Antonio
**Colette Photo found on I Am A Flippy Doodle. Interestingly enough, he had posted the same quote. I spent a bit of time on his blog…check it out.

Honoring, not Threatening, the Past, Present and Future

 

There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats;
For I am armed so strong in honesty
That they pass by me as the idle wind.

~ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Merriam Webster

Threat ~ an indication of something impending

Anxiety ~ painful or apprehensive
uneasiness of mind
usually over an impending or anticipated ill

 

I accepted the offer to participate in a 30 day writing prompt challenge. In a nut shell, somebody takes a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, talks about it and provides a thought that the participants are then supposed to write about.

In all, I am enjoying it very much. However, I am just past the week mark and realized a pet peeve I didn’t know I had. Two of the first six prompts contained variations of the idea, “If you knew you were going to die, go broke, lose your piece of apple pie, and witness the end of the world in the next month, week, 15 seconds, think about what would you do and live your life like that now because therein lies your authentic self.”

Seriously? No. Apocalyptic April is nothing like Legacy April. The two aren’t even close to the same person. The first throws caution to the wind, expends all her resources, forgos responsibility in the face of last minute life cramming. The latter, while enjoying her life and remembering what is important, holds a balance of worth, appreciation, betterment, responsibility and relationships. I am betting most folks feel the same way.

I can appreciate the intention of the prompt – think about who are you when you feel free to be who you are. But, I have realized it drives me nuts to have it encapsulated in a doomsday message. It is as if only through threats and anxiety are we able to be honest enough to know ourselves. I don’t buy that. In fact, I find it almost counter productive. Our authentic self is not meant to be apprehensive and fearful with no hope for a tomorrow. We are meant to be encouraged, empowered and comfortable knowing, regardless of the number of days, we are purposeful.

Today, I encourage you to throw off the apprehension of expectation and appreciate where you are in its entirety. Yesterday is honorable and good in its lessons and memories. Today is purposeful and present, poised to be whatever we mold it. Tomorrow, while not to be expected or worried over, is more likely to come than not. It is a privilege to know that we are here and capable of creating positivity in a space that has not yet happened. I don’t have to consider my lost of means or life to appreciate that. In fact, I appreciate it more knowing that it is there to be lived – not feared.

 


Featured Photo from Yoni Lerner

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

My Sound, Your Sound

My noise is not your noise.

~Jeff Turner

One of the most wonderful things about this country is our freedom of speech. We are able, with limited restrictions, to have, hold, change and voice our own personal ideas about almost anything. This is good for me. I love to converse, I love to learn, and I love to converse about the things I learn. An open and well connected source of conversation thrives in this circumstance.

One of the most abused things in this country is our freedom of speech. We are able, with limited restrictions, to defame, discourage, tear down and belittle the personal ideas of almost anybody. This is not good for me. I love people, I love ideas and I love people with ideas. A hostile environment of ugly and ill will kills all of these things.

In my observation, the root of the latter comes from a personal respect issue – while we are allowed to take things much more personally, we do not feel obligated to offer any other persons a modicum of respect. Even as I read that back, I know it sounds hard and have attempted to put it a different way. In truth, I am inclined to put it in the “it is what it is” pile and move along.

The reality is we all have different ideas, beliefs, priorities, backgrounds, preferences, passions, peeves, etc. More than the idea that we are not all ever going to completely agree is the truth that we all shouldn’t. I love coastal, southern Georgia for a myriad of reasons. I am super stoked that some folks prefer colder, warmer, western, eastern, northern, southern locations. I like my space and, as much as I love people, we won’t all fit here. We are supposed to be different. We are supposed to find appeal and wonder in different things – think of all the wonderful things we would lose or miss if we were all covering the same ground in the same way.

Today, I encourage you to embrace the uniqueness that is you. Know that those things that are noise to others does not make it any less valuable as sound to you. In turn, respect the sound of others, even when it hits your ears as noise. I am obviously not saying we have to agree, condone or even like. We are even capable of removing ourselves from the clash respectfully. But, more often than not, when two different people with different everything, come face to face in mutual respect, real conversation happens – and the noise becomes a sound that can teach, heal and reconcile.

Hat Tip to Jeff Turner

Today’s quote from Jeff Turner was found while reading his new series “Listening as a Strategy.” It’s great, non fluff stuff. Not a bad idea to check it out.

Featured Photo from Funkor Child Art Center ~ Artists are Sara 10, Zehra 12, and Ayla 11

Reconnecting with Bliss

Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss.
Nothing is as rich.  Nothing is more real.

~Deepak Chopra

My favorite things about today’s quote may not be readily apparent. In fact, it took me a bit to figure it out myself. You know how when you look at a piece of art, hear a great piece of music, take a bite of a great piece of food – you know you really like it, you just having trouble putting the words to the feeling. Then I realized my appreciation is in three parts.

First, he uses the word “reconnecting.” This word is totally encouraging. It suggests that bliss separation happens. We shouldn’t feel inadequate or inept if we find ourselves in a funk. We can be encouraged that it has happened to others as it is happening to us, and we can reconnect.

Second, he calls the bliss reconnection “real” – and it is. How many of us have gone through those darker periods? We consider those to be very real. In the same truth, moments of bliss have to be real as well. However, we fail to trust the realness of the lighter moments as fear tells us they are little less that vapor and imagination, therefore they will vanish quickly so let’s not get too excited. But the bliss is real and can be believed in.

Finally, and most importantly, Chopra does not define what the bliss is. He does not tell us how our inner spirit manifests or identifies this bliss. I personally find this connection spiritually via a theology that I have faith in. But I will tell you there have been periods in my life where that connection was confused and shaky. How encouraging it is to know that bliss is not judgement or condemnation but inner strength and light – and call that what you will.

Today, I encourage us all to identify our bliss. Remember that it is real, it is yours and it is up to you to define and hold on to. We are not talking about a superficial feel good moment that comes and goes with the change of the seasons. We are talking about the inner spark of immutable light that connects our authentic selves to the rest of humanity and beyond. It is characterized by goodness, strength and possibility. It is yours, ours, for the connecting.

*Featured photo credit ~ Cheryl Empey
*Chopra Photo – Public domain

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

Exceptional is the Goal

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.

~Dale Carnegie

Let me start out today with this disclaimer. Yes, I am aware that some things, situations, places, people completely stink. I agree that there are times when the redeeming quality that you can find isn’t worth the effort it took to find it.

However, contrary to recent (or maybe just more noticeable) behavior, a good many people are starting to think my disclaimer is the norm. It is not. If we were real honest with ourselves, we would instinctively know that it is the very rare exception.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrases, “that’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard of”, “why in the world would they do it that way”, “this makes me sick”, or other moans that sound like that. I have heard them so often, I have noticed them coming from my mouth as well, even as I am disgusted by the same behaviors in others – now ain’t that crazy.

I have had to spend a good bit of time reminding myself that the way I see things isn’t always the way things are. My perception is only one of a variety of perceptions – all of which have different histories and influences. Should I assume the worse of the available perceptions is accurate, my attitude and influence in the situation becomes yet another negative influence. The situation escalates and I have achieved my prophecy – completely self fulfilled and avoidable with a better attitude.

Today, I encourage you to mind your company and mind your behavior. Think of those folks that you really enjoy spending time with – they are uplifting, supportive, positive, encouraging. Appreciate that in them and commit to treating others that way. Our behaviors, if not carefully watched, are apt to follow in line with those around us. I am not placing blame, as we are all responsible for our own reactions and choices. I am acknowledging a choice to remember that good is nice, great is better and exceptional is the goal. And we can get there – with character, self control, and just a little help from a few friends.

*Featured photo credit ~ sanja gjenero
*Carnegie Photo – Public domain