Life Thoughts

Many of us zip through life at breakneck speed, starting too many days behind schedule and ending them with not enough hours to get it all done. Some of us forget to eat, don’t know how to stay healthy, or don’t pay attention to our sicknesses. Maybe that’s you. Often it’s me. I’ve been asked and yeah, have thought to myself,

What is the point?  Where did I go wrong?  How can I do this?  What is the reason for it all? Why am I so unhappy? Why am I here? Where is God? This world is a mess.

Why are we here? Is there…?

Yes! There is meaning. You are alive. You are here. You belong. You have a chance to do something. Even when everything around you is falling apart.

Take a deep breath and consider this. We live, we die. It all goes by too fast.

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Love God. Love your neighbor. Do good. Be present. Do your best work. Stop complaining. Don’t gossip. Don’t judge. Say I love you to whom it is due. Bloom where you’re planted. Give. Take care of what you have. Be non-toxic. Be considerate. Laugh more. Be a peacemaker. Plant hope. Reap joy. Shine. Be kind. Forgive. Don’t look back. Take good care of yourself. Live. 

We rush through our lives so eager to grow up, get a career, make and spend lots of money, climb to the next rung on the ladder. We are forever looking back or fantasizing the future that we neglect the present. The here and now. This day, this hour, this moment.

I’m not saying don’t ever look at the past – reflection is necessary for growth and learning. And only a fool wouldn’t make plans for the future. The point is to find balance, and in the process don’t forget to live. And that’s the meaning. The point of life, is simply to live. Wherever you are. Whoever you are. Whether things are good or bad, if you’re rich, or you have nothing. We live, we die. Too fast. No one is promised tomorrow.

Life is a gift. Life is life. So in honor of those who are no longer here with us, out of a spirit of love and a desire to believe despite our unbelief, let’s live together, you and me. Let’s do the best with what we have and where we are, so when our time is over here we can leave knowing we have no regrets.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again. C.S. Lewis

To Be Successful You Must Do These 4 Things!

Merriam-Webster defines success as, “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame“. I think Webster completely misses the mark. Success is viewed differently depending on your culture, upbringing, social situation, work environment, and worldview.

It is not a one-size-fits-all standardized, measurable thing. No one would argue that the self-made millionaires, Edison/Einstein types, Hollywood stars, Olympic athletes, or Pulitzer Prize winners aren’t successful.

But in reality the super famous, geniuses, and wicked wealthy people represent such a small number. If we look at fame as an indication of success, Wired Science reports,

somewhere between about 1 in 10,000 and 5 in 10,000 (or 1 in 2,000) people in the world are successful.

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The truth is successful people can be found in every crevice of the planet. From the tiny fishing village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, to the congested metropolis of Tokyo, Japan, you’ll find success.

Isn’t success simply accomplishing that which you set out to do? Whether it be a goal to climb the world’s ten tallest mountains or to climb out of poverty – you determine what you want to achieve. Anyone. Including you and I, can be successful.

There is no secret to success. Instead there’s a mindset, and opportunities. 

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To be successful in any area of your life, you must consistently do these 4 things

  1. Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives
  2. Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision
  3. Cultivate emotional intelligence
  4. Stay the course

#1 Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives

Know what you want. Rather than wander aimlessly through life letting the “chips fall” where they may, decide what/where you want to be. And write it down.  Napoleon Hill, the author of The Magic Ladder to Success (Free PDF),  puts it in perspective:

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#2 Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision 

Once you have your goals and a plan, you need the tools and the people to help. If you want to lose weight you’ll need to learn how to change the way you eat, and you need to move. Do you need to get a food scale, a gym membership, or a new pair of sneakers?

If you want to start your own business, you need education, training, and business mentors.

Make friends with the right people, surround yourself with good influences, and keep moving yourself forward.

#3 Cultivate emotional intelligence

Successful people learn to temper their emotions. They are empathetic, understanding, set the tone for their team, and know how to bring the best out in others. They keep their head in the game, and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you want to accomplish your goals you can’t be pouty, reactive, or vindictive.  I recommend either reading up on emotional intelligence or try taking a free class. A little emotional intelligence goes a long way.

#4 Stay the course

Success will find you busy working. Build on your strengths, be persistent, optimistic, and learn from your failures. There will be obstacles, set backs, mistakes as well as triumphs. The point is to never lose your grit.

Anyone who has set a goal and accomplished it is a success. Success does not happen overnight. It won’t drop from the sky, and it will never come if you turn around and admit defeat. It is a challenge, and that’s exactly what makes life zesty!

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These two!

Have you met someone and immediately thought, I like this person! You get talking and find you have so much in common; you like the same foods, the same music, and have similar world views. You are like two peas in a pod. Twins with a tiny umbilical cord, a matching set, two minds thinking as one. You even finish each other’s sentences.

What a glorious thing it is to find someone who ‘gets’ us, relates to us, and makes us feel at ease. We can pour out our heart and soul to and we know there is nothing we can’t say that will turn our “pea” away. That deep, mysterious connection with another human being is a magnificent gift.

It is irreplaceable.

Do you have someone in your life like that? If you do, don’t take that person for granted. The world is a better place and life is so much richer because of that one extraordinary individual.  Maybe you don’t, not yet. Or perhaps you do and just haven’t realized it.

Who would have thought this wombat and piglet would become best friends?

Credit: Photo by Rob Leeson/Newspix / Rex Features (1808299a) http://www.rexfeatures.com/stacklink/IFJIDKRTD

We can find kindred spirits in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and also in the unlikeliest places such as grocery stores or social media.  If you’ve found yours, that is so awesome! If you haven’t yet, don’t give up. Keep your eyes open.

 You never know who might be the right pea for your pod. 

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Where I Confess I am a Thief

I am a thief. Well, not in the traditional sense – I don’t go around breaking into houses, and I haven’t stolen candy from the grocery store since I was 5 years old.  But, I am doing the things Austin Kleon suggests I should be doing to unlock my creativity and produce some good stuff – I’m stealing like an artist.

In Steal Like an Artist, Austin’s definition of stealing is not unethical, illegal,or plagiarism. It’s about finding ideas out there that are good and stealing them, or “embracing the influence”. It’s the way art is done.

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art is theft

 

 

 

 

copy.

According to Austin, what to copy is tricky. He says,

Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds.

He continues,

That’s what you really want – to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be anything more than a knockoff.

I love this book because I suck at art, yet I am still an artist.  Aren’t we all artists?  The writer, blogger, dancer, chef, painter, mother, student, gardner, speaker, teacher, preacher, singer, photographer. This book is for all of us.

Whatever you love to do, do it! Appreciate the creative work of the masters or the rest who have mad talent and can serve as your muse. It takes commitment, drive, and persistence of practice to find your own unique artistic voice. Just don’t give up. Instead let’s get busy stealing, and in turn we will find our voice in the process.

Facing Death Every Day

Today's guest blogger is Pastor and Author Charles Spurgeon

I say this, Christian brothers, I have joy in what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for you. That is why I face death every day. -Paul the Apostle

We die daily, said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age.

We have to bear the sneer of the world–that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse.

Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. The devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in him.

The Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame.

Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God.

Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour, you need these things more than ever, and may God the Eternal Spirit display his omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher,

we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

What Do Dogs Dream About?

I love to watch my dog sleep.  He curls up on our couch or his fluffy doggy bed, head and paws touching, tail tucked close to his body and falls asleep in what seems like seconds.  Soon I hear little woof-woofs while his nose twitches and paws move gently as if running through air. Is he dreaming? Is he chasing the bunny, playing at the dog park, or running to greet me?  Or, is his twitching and sleep barking nothing more than reflexive? What does science say about dog dreams?

He hears something, I think it was a car horn. He wakes, pops his head up and looks around the room and our eyes meet.  He seems confused, probably wondering,

How did I get here?  Wasn’t I running with the deer in the woods? Didn’t I chase the squirrel up the tree? I came so close to the edge of the forest where I have never been before.

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His head drops back down and he sighs deeply, sometimes he yawns, then he slop slops his mouth and swallows.  Maybe his dream gave him a juicy steak or his favorite –  a hot dog.  Whatever may have happened, or not happened, he is off to sleep again.

I love my beautiful, gentle, boy, and I adore him when he sleeps. I’m convinced he dreams, just like you and I dream. I laugh when he sleep-barks and am contented by the sound of his rhythmic breathing.  I have to resist the pull to snuggle him close, to stroke his back, scratch behind his ear, and lay my head on his chest.  The boom boom of his heart moves me and the single lick to my face is a sweet gift – he tells me everything is alright, I am loved, I am safe. And in case he had a bad dream and needs the same reassurance, I tell him everything is alright. I’m right here buddy. You are safe, go back to sleep and dream those doggy things.

And just-like-that, he does.
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What Abe Lincoln Taught Me About Suffering

Abraham Lincoln is well known for his quips and clever words. Whether it be advice on civil rights, character, freedom, or success, our 16th president had simple, yet profoundly wise words that are timeless and still worthy of our attention.

Such as…

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt

 And this one that I hold dear,

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

Though he couldn’t have known it when he said it, his years were cut short at 56. And much of his life was suffering. He was born poor, he was plagued with melancholy and suicidal thoughts, his wife had mental health problems, and three of their four sons died young.

Yet, he persevered despite these terrible life circumstances.

Thinking about that made me wonder-

Why is it that some people can’t cope with disaster or difficulties, while others with similar troubles thrive despite?

It blows me away when I meet people with things like terminal cancer, disfigurement, chronic pain, traumatic childhoods, or great loss are able to adapt and cope despite the atrocity of their situation.

They don’t give up. They still believe that God is good. That life is precious, and that they will overcome.

Others with similar circumstances groan how miserable they are and believe the world is a wretched place and life has no meaning.

I know life is unfair and full of pain and suffering. It makes no sense.

But life is also full of love and hope.

Bad things happen. But you and I have a choice –  to rise above, or to drown in the muck.

Yes, I do believe we can live and thrive in spite of an awful childhood, a debilitating disease, or a loved one gone too soon.

Lincoln with his son Willie

You may wonder,

How can I go on? How can I be happy? You have no idea what I’ve been through! 

You’re right. I have no idea what you have been through.  But I can try to understand. I only know what I’ve gone through, what I have wrestled with, and I’m still here.

  • I believe good triumphs over evil.
  • I believe there is a God who loves us, despite what the majority may believe.
  • I am sure we are not abandoned. 
  • I don’t think everything happens for a reason, rather life is fragile, an accident is an accident, and we will all die someday.
  • I can say broken hearts heal, and the pain lessens in time.  
  • And I am certain that no matter what, life is always worth living.  

When you arise in the morning – let your first thought be what a glorious privilege it is to be alive. To breathe, to think, to create, to hope, to love.

Be the person, like Abraham Lincoln, who carries on despite suffering. There are many who stand by us, offering us their example as a comforting embrace and reminder.  Like Abe, who wrote these loving words to a friend who just lost her father. ALquotescover-JPG-18

No matter what you are going through, no matter what has happened – let me, like Abe, alleviate some of your suffering. You are not alone. You are more resilient than you think. Life is what it is. Suffering is inevitable, but misery, existing in wretched desolation, is optional.

Although Lincoln’s melancholy “dripped from him as he walked“,  his hardships and intense distress gave him an unlimited supply of sapient guidance and an innate ability to truly empathize with anyone. If Abraham Lincoln was able to endure countless tribulations on top of his lifelong (untreated) clinical depression, surely you can, and most definitely I can too.

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to 
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.

Abraham Lincoln

Achieving Life Balance: How To Say No

Just listen to your heart. That’s what I do. Napoleon Dynamite

Saying no doesn’t always come easy.  Whether it’s your manager flooding you with last-minute-i-need-this-yesterday assignments, or your kid wanting to go to the mall NOW – there are times you say yes when you really want to say no.

Why do you do it? Why do you keep doing things for others and forget about what you want?  Has it been so long since you’ve considered what you want that you don’t even know any more?

Do you feel tired, restless, taken advantage of, or unhappy? Are you afraid to answer the phone because you know someone wants something from you and you can’t say no?

Doing something begrudgingly is not good for you. When you give of your time, emotions, and talents, it should stem from a sincere desire to want to do good, meet a need, or invest in someone’s future.

When you are overworked, stretched to the max, and leave little time for meeting your own need for recreation, and restoration, you are teetering on the edge of physical exhaustion and mental decline.

Excessive, prolonged stress is linked to burnout, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and more really bad stuff.

Seek balance in your life. Take a good look at what you’ve been doing this week and see if there may be some things you should have said no to. Next time you feel that twinge in your gut, listen to it! The majority of people will understand a no. And if they don’t, then they just showed you their true self.

If you say yes when you really want to say no, try one of these suggestions.

Decline with grace. You can be nice, and feel honored if you were selected for a cool opportunity. You can’t say yes to every request or adventure, even if it sounds fun.  Hey, good to hear from you!  I really appreciate you thought of me for this assignment, but I will need to decline at this moment.  Maybe later down the road when things quiet down for me. Thanks for understanding.

Compromise. A sleepover sounds like fun! But not tonight. Let’s look at the calendar and pick another date that will work.  How about I take you kids out for ice-cream instead?

Advise an alternative. Often a person truly doesn’t know what else to do, it can be hard to problem solve your own dilemmas.  I can’t give you a ride to work. Are you near a bus route?  Have you considered using Uber? Is there a car pool you can find? Do you have a friend from church or your exercise class that can help?

Stall. If you really aren’t sure what to do, buy yourself time. Don’t be too quick to decline an opportunity. Saying yes can be a strategic move and may open a door to a rewarding path.  I can’t give you an answer this minute.  Let me think about it and I will get back to you.  How can I reach you, and when do you need my answer by?

Pass.  Just say no. Be nice, grateful, with the response nothing more than a simple, I’m sorry but I can’t help you.

Skip the details of why you can’t do something.  It’s too much blah blah blah. People don’t have the time to hear the why, they’ve got to go down their list of people, and you can be sure you probably weren’t their first call, and definitely not their last hope.

After you say no, don’t fret about it. We are so afraid of hurting feelings or letting a friend down that we end up second guessing ourselves and feel guilty for saying no. Don’t feel guilty for wanting balance in your life.  Plus think of how your (true) friend would feel if he found out you said yes  though your heart wasn’t in it.

Give it a try.  Next time someone asks if you can do the coffee run, if you can babysit, or if you can host Thanksgiving dinner, say,

 Thanks for thinking of me, but I need to pass. 

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How To Handle Seriously Negative People

Moods are just as contagious as a virus. The Killjoy bug can remain in your system for days, even years! Psychologists have a name for this, they call it

Emotional Contagion

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Some people have a perpetual negative outlook on everything. The weather is awful. The food is terrible. Everything is ugly.  Even if you aren’t normally a glass is half-empty person, if you spend enough time around someone who is you will soon start feeling the same way.

Do you have people like that at work or in your family?  You can let them infect you with their gloomy attitude, or you can try to keep away from them.

If you are the resilient type, you can ask what’s wrong.

Sometimes if you dig a little deeper, you might find the source of the black outlook. Chronic pain? Grief? Poor self esteem?

There are tons of reasons why people can be so negative.

 

If you are constantly around people who are obnoxiously moody, try telling them their bad mood affects you too. Hopefully they’ll think it over and agree with you. Life is too short to be a sourpuss.

the antidoteJust as bad moods are contagious, positive vibes and sunny dispositions can spread too.

Do what you can to keep your emotions healthy.

Stay clear of bad moods. Stay close to good ones.

And remember to walk on the sunny side of the street.

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

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Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

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