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Archive for February, 2010

OH YES YOU CAN…AND YOU MUST!

You may have wondered what yesterday’s commentary about generations had to do with how we make Choices and Chances in our lives.  Well, let’s pick up today’s discussion where we left off.  It is logical to recognize that what we have experienced in our lives will have an effect on how we handle situations in our lives.

Our income status as a child will affect how we view money, how we view education, how we budget our income, what causes stress for us, what defines comfort.  The list is almost endless. 

How we have been disciplined as children, can effect how we discipline ourselves and our own children.  The value placed on family will affect the structure we create in our own homes.  The marital status that we observed in our parents will have an effect on the beliefs we form about marriage.

As we’ve discussed before, our mind is a huge storage, data, bank of information, experiences, feelings, behaviors, values and beliefs.  But how we use that information is critical to the way we design our lives. 

It is not possible to recount every experience, every feeling, every belief that we have formed in a lifetime all at one time, everyday;  but the information guides us.  The data base is being referenced, even when we are not thinking about a specific event,  as we react and respond to situations we deal with daily. 

I notice that many of my expectations, that I have for my children, about their behavior, were created out of how I was disciplined and what was expected of me as a child growing up.  For example, when I was young, there was not an avenue made available to debate a parental decision.  If my mom said, “No.”, then she meant NO, and there was no discussion.  On the few occasions that I would decide to attempt to inject my opinion, it was usually met with a consequence for what she thought was an act of defiance.  I learned, through those experiences, to accept whatever decision was handed down to me.

Since having my own children, I have noticed that sometimes, when I have made a decision, and my children try to present their opposing view, I have to RESPOND with a reminder to myself that they are not being defiant.  They are  just trying to get me to see their point of view.  I don’t want them to think that just because an authority figure has made a decision  for them, that they have to accept it.  I have encouraged my children to offer their side if they really feel that their side has not been considered or could present a better outcome for all concerned.  I often felt when I was young that my feelings were not considered in some of the decisions my parents made.  Based on my experience I decided to start an open discussion opportunity for my kids so that they did know that I appreciate their feelings too.  They are just as important as mine. 

 I have had occasions where I have overturned an earlier decision after hearing their point of view.  There have been times when I have not.  I have also had knee-jerk REACTIONS, if they decided to passionately oppose my decision.  I have felt the anger swell up inside me when their tone went from controlled to frustrated and upset.  Because of my experience, these feelings, and that tone can strike me as defiant or disrespectful.  I have sometimes even instituted a consequence.  It isn’t a pretty situation.  They are confused, feeling disrespected, AND wondering “What the heck is wrong with her??”.

In nearly each one of those reactionary times, I have had to back pedal, review the presentation, and most every time, apologize for my reaction and reverse the consequence.  They were not trying to be disrespectful, but only voicing their opinion and disappointment for not getting what they want.  It was me that instituted the policy of allowing them to share their opinions after all.  That is what I really want to create in my household.  But, it was that very same “baggage” that created the opportunity for them to open up, that caused the REACTION.  

Where does it come from?  I wasn’t allowed to speak up, why should they get to?  If I did speak up it was considered disrespect, so they are disrespectful?   I didn’t get my way, why should they?  All of the above?  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t have any relation to what my child is saying, in that moment.  It’s all about a past experience of MINE.  I did not keep my cool, evaluate the circumstance and create an appropriate RESPONSE that applied to the present and my child.

In each split second, of any given circumstance, we make CHOICES; but do we  RESPOND or REACT? 

A response is more thought out, more calm, more positive, more deliberate in being respectful to all parties, considering the exchange between oneself and another. 

A reaction, is sometimes more negative, more self-centered, not as well thought out, it can lack focus on achieving a desirable outcome  for all.  It can be a defense mechanism in direct relation to feelings associated with a past experience.   Reactions may be equated to “flying off the handle” or acting impulsively, responses may be equated to “making sound decisions”.

When one reacts, and then says,”I can’t help it!”

I say…”OH YES YOU CAN…AND YOU MUST”.  

Other people in your life have not had the same experiences as you have.  Others can not relate to what you have FELT in the past…the positive and negative.  

If you really are intent on being able to CREATE THE LIFE YOU CAN”T WAIT TO LIVE, then you must learn to RESPOND so that you can get the outcomes you truly want and keep your family/friends loving you–really!  Having a more deliberate approach, gives you the ability to create peaceful, WIN/WIN, love-filled, situations for yourself and those around you!

Identify areas in your life in which you react, based on past experiences.  How would you like to change those to responses?  What would those responses be?

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KIDS THESE DAYS!!

February 8, 2010

I was reminiscing about my grandmother last week.  She passed on 19 years ago, but I still miss her so much.  I was with my uncle one afternoon, talking over coffee, about what she experienced at her point in history in America, how she was with her family, her profession as a seamstress, and so on.  Sharing in memories of how she lived always leaves me feeling close to her, even though I’m not able to be with her each day.  It also leaves me in awe because of what she did and accomplished without today’s technology.

I often find myself thinking how every bit of progress each generation makes, it seems that some things are lost.  Maybe it’s because we didn’t have the same life experiences.  It wouldn’t be possible for me to connect on a personal level with what it was like to be an immigrant, to come to a country not able to speak the language, what it was like to be a woman in the 1930’s, what it was like to wash clothes with a ringer washer, what it was like to live through the depression, what it was like to be widowed with a young family. 

Now just as much as I can’t relate to those experiences, I try to understand how my children sometimes can’t relate or appreciate experiences I have had through my life.  My children can’t understand what it was like to have a phone that hung on a wall, instead of in a pocket.  My children can’t appreciate what it was like to have one car per family, to not have a computer, to walk to school, to have 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and about 1,000 square feet of living space for a family of 6.  But yet, somehow I still expect them to understand where I am coming from as I relate to them–to have the same appreciation for things as I do.

Oh my gosh!  This is one of those, “I am becoming my parents moments”.  I often find myself saying that the current generation just doesn’t get it—“kids these days!”.  Then I realize, as sad, and as wonderful, that thought is, at the same time, it isn’t possible for a generation to fully appreciate a previous generation because we haven’t experienced THAT LIFE for ourselves. It’s pretty unrealistic to think that we could transcend generations–because we don’t have any of the same points of reference.

I am thankful for the many things my children can’t relate to such as segregation, the draft, paddling, boys being told not to cry, litter on public roads and waters, etc., but I feel sorry for them for not being able to relate to stores being closed on Sundays, only having 6 TV channels to choose from, thinking going out to dinner meant the family went to McDonald’s for a burger and fry, being able to play outside with neighborhood kids before 5pm outside of a daycare setting, getting one or two special and cherished gifts for a birthday or holiday, having to share rooms, working together in the yard as a family on a Saturday, being completely entertained laying on the front lawn with their best friend finding the shape of a puppy in the clouds, laying in bed on a hot summer night on sheets that hung in the sun that day, listening to the sound of the crickets outside the bedroom window as they drift off to sleep.

I think technology has changed much of the way we and our children experience life.  With all the advances in technology over the decades that have made our lives more comfortable such as air conditioning, chain restaurants, cell phones, video games, lawn services, 24 hour shopping, it seems that we have lost the sense of appreciating the simple.  We can’t expect our children to appreciate what it was like to have to sit out on the front porch on a hot summer day because it was just too hot in the house—because most of them have grown up with whole house air conditioning.  They don’t have a point of reference for that experience. 

Unfortunately I think technology has prevented the younger generations from tapping into their senses and emotions.  They haven’t been encouraged to use their imaginations, be patient, be creative, associate the good feelings that come from chatting on that porch while sipping cool, sweaty glasses of iced tea.  Technology and home services do so much we aren’t encouraged to work collaboratively, have manners, be polite, open our minds to the ideas of others and the bond as families–machines don’t require that type of effort.

When I was younger, we didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t get a lot of stuff, but when I think back to what I did get…love, appreciation, gratitude, a sense of taking care of what I did have, love of a family…I think it was all PRICELESS!

I think my generation has the opportunity to bridge the gap.  I believe we can appreciate the values and simplicity of the past generations and the technology of the present/future generations–because we have lived with both.  I believe that we can offer the benefits of both worlds to preserve the “FEELING” in the world by teaching our children and living lives that allow technology to enhance our lives–not rule it. 

What are some of the things you remember about being young and growing up,that your parents and grandparents did that helped create the amazing person you are today?   How can you allow technology to help you so that you can spend the time doing the same things with your kids to help them develop that attribute as well??

You Must Obey!

Obedience is probably one of the most difficult components in What and Whom we HONOR.  The reason being, it requires us to focus outside of OURSELVES.

If you’ve ever had a child, you will know what I mean.  A child wants what it wants because when they are young, it’s totally all about themselves.  As parents, we set rules for our children.  Some are for their safety, some are so they build morals and values, some are so they can learn how to interact socially and develop a sense of being a part of a family, a group and the world.  They realize through obedience that it’s not all about them. 

When the child learns they will be rewarded if they decide to do what they want to do, within the rules, they start gravitating toward those CHOICES.  When the child chooses to act selfishly and go outside of the rules, the parent will impose consequences until the child decides they just aren’t going to do that anymore.  They don’t like the feeling of the consequence. 

Obedience is not a FUN concept for most of us.   It tests us, restricts us, limits us, denies us.  We may perceive that it’s uncomfortable, stifling our creativity, leaving us feeling like we are missing out.  If you have a teenager you can watch the angst the development of obedience creates daily!

 As we grow up and mature we learn how to appreciate OBEDIENCE in ourselves and others.  We learn that we like REWARDS that make us feel good and we avoid consequences that make us feel bad. 

When we make CHOICES on how we are going to live, including Whom and What we HONOR, we look at why we BELIEVE in them, and what it is about them that we want to bring to our life; what we are willing to become obedient to, in order to design our lives.   

In general, no one does or believes in anything if they aren’t going to get something physical or emotional out of it.  And, if we don’t feel the payoff is worth it, chances are we are not going to believe it, honor it, or ever become disciplined enough to think we could get it.  We have all learned the concept of “what we reap, is what we will sow”.  

If we Honor God, we value the vision of living in Heaven in the next life.  If we honor our parents, we value the loving relationship that we grow.  If we honor our spouses, we are rewarded with intimate love and the life built from it.  If we honor our profession, we are rewarded with integrity and the fulfillment of working with purpose.  Whatever we find value in, we will become obedient to get the payoff.

Let’s face it, we all wish we could be FREE SPIRITS, able to do what we want when we want and reap all the JOYS of this life and the next!  I’m not saying that we can’t… just that there are parameters.  When we realize that with every FREEDOM comes a  SELFLESSNESS RESPONSIBILITY and discipline in discerning our choices.   Now you might be saying, well that’s not really FREEDOM then.  But the contrary is really true. 

If everyone just did whatever they wanted, with no sense of order or regard for anyone else, this world would be absolute pandemonium.   We would be reduced to chaos, mayhem and all kinds of social distress.  We would be more enslaved than we could ever imagine.  But if we found JOY in the obedience, focusing on the desired outcome, we would all enjoy the effort a whole lot more. 

Let me give you an example.  I love fast cars.  I have wanted for so long, to just get in a Mustang GT, pull out on a long stretch of  open road and just  light it up with my foot and the gas pedal to the floor.  Now if I just did that, chances are I would end up making all kinds of problems for myself and a whole lot of innocent bystanders.  But, if I were to RESPONSIBLY take that same car to a racetrack, and do the exact same thing, within the parameters of the track–I can drive as fast as I want…FREEDOM!! 

Here’s another one.  Let’s say that you HONOR your spouse…you made that CHOICE when you took your vows.  In HONORING your spouse you agree to LOVE them, CHERISH THEM, CLING TO THEM, SUPPORT THEM, AND BE FAITHFUL TO THEM.  If you choose to take them for granted, attempt to control them, ignore them or take your affections to someone else…you are NOT honoring them or the marriage.  So how do you think that they would or should  REWARD you for your choices??  With their LOVE, AFFECTION, HONOR and RESPECT in return??  Probably not.  

What if you decided to do all those same things WITH them instead of outside of your marriage.  What if you were loving to them, supportive of them, paid attention to them, showed gratitude toward them?  Same exact thing, just within the perameters YOU CHOSE and BELIEVED IN.  Now how do you think you will be rewarded? Probably with the outcome you wanted when you got married.

For those who believe in the Promises of Eternity/Heaven…God requires a certain Obedience and if you say that you HONOR Him, then you must CHOOSE to follow his RULES.  If you have envisioned the rewards you want to receive after your Earthly life, you value them, and HONOR them, then be obedient the way the Lord has guided you.  Keeping  that vision of Heaven at the front of your mind as you move through this Earthly life, makes it a whole lot easier to CHOOSE to live by His word.  If you lose sight of the REWARD, then you might develop disdain for His rules or choose to live selfishly.  If you CHOOSE not to follow them, then don’t expect the REWARD. 

Remember, WHAT YOU GIVE IS WHAT YOU GET…In all these examples, when it becomes all about YOU…that’s where we start facing serious consequences of  compromised integrity, loneliness, property damage, broken relationships, no joy, lack of eternal peace, etc.  So, the idea that obedience is a drag is really contradictory and the thought of believing that we could somehow be happy without being OBEDIENT really seems absurd. 

Thoughts?

CORE BELIEFS DETERMINE WHERE HONOR IS PLACED!!

Vol.2, Edition 2

Yesterday, I shared my thoughts and posed the question Whom and What do you honor?  I hope you wrote some thoughts down and took some time to really think about that question.  As I was thinking about it myself, I realized just how critical this exercise is.  Now this post is going to be more cerebral than I would normally like it to be, but these exercises are so important as we form the foundation for our future CHOICES & CHANCES–it’s a must to push ourselves a bit.  So it’s the exercise and the discovery within yourself that should get you jazzed today, not necessarily what I am sharing here. 

First think about this…What we choose to honor, and why, develops our BELIEFS, which in turn guides us in  how we make our choices and  the chances we are willing to take.  To me the word “honor” is powerful and precious.  HONOR is not something that I am willing to dole out to just anything or anyone.  You have to decide what power lies within the word for yourself.  So, let’s start by putting it into context. 

According to ARDictionary, honor is:   That which rightfully attracts esteem, respect, or consideration; self-respect; dignity; courage; fidelity; especially, excellence of character; high moral worth; virtue; nobleness; specif., in men, integrity; uprightness; trustworthiness; in women, purity; chastity.

OR

Honor 3

Definition: A nice sense of what is right, just, and true, with course of life correspondent thereto; strict conformity to the duty imposed by conscience, position, or privilege.

 You may have written many things that you honor such as God, your parents, your spouse, your country, yourself, other people’s wishes, etc., etc.  Now, one by one, go through your list and write down WHY you HONOR those things with those definitions in mind.  You may find that some of the things you have written are things you respect a great deal, but maybe not to a level of  honor.  For example, I respect money, but I do not honor it.  I may respect a friend, but I honor my husband.

What is it about the things you wrote down that you believe are right, just, true, virtuous or deserving of reverence?  Why are they appropriate for you?  

As you are writing, you will find that most of what you are writing is based on your BELEIFS…BELIEFS  are, according to FreeDictionary,  the mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another:  2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something 3. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons. 

How did we get these beliefs?  Where did they come from?  Are they your own?  Did you form them based on what you were told by another person?  Did they come from your own experience?  

Over the course of our lifetimes we have ingested  information presented to us every minute of every day about ideas, people, religion, government and on and on.  We find that information in books, TV, media, personal experiences, family members, teachers, religious figures, etc., etc.  We have stored all of that information into our main data base, which is our mind.  At times we have tested that information, and have chosen which to accept as a true belief or that which we reject.  

Somewhere along the line we have established our CORE beliefs–the Biggies!  The beliefs that tell us what we stand for, what we are passionate about, what gives us substance and direction.  THOSE are the BELIEFS that will tell us WHAT AND WHOM we HONOR and WHY.  From what we HONOR, will guide our CHOICES and CHANCES. 

We will have some beliefs that we carry with us our whole life through.  We may find along the way that our beliefs change as our experiences change or as we gain new knowledge.  Sometimes our beliefs become outdated for our own lives.  The beliefs we have when we are in our teens are very different from when we are in our 40’s or 60’s.  AND THAT IS ALL GOOD!  We are going to change, be enlightened, get new data, experience new things, choose to live differently and it’s 100% OK to change our minds.

As you have done just these two exercises you have probably started to learn a lot more about yourself…what’s important to you, what beliefs have driven many of the choices you have already made in your life, how you’ve ended up where you are, what beliefs have effected the chances you have taken (or not).  Self awareness is absolutely critical because your choices and chances must be driven by what YOU believe, not what someone else tells you to believe.  Take the time to get in touch with yourself!

Tune in again tomorrow as we take our list of what we Honor and realize the OBEDIENCE that is required to be in harmony with our own CHOICES & CHANCES to live truly fulfilled lives!

It Starts With Whom We Honor!

Vol. 2, Edition 1

Welcome to Choices & Chances!

Today marks the lift-off of a long-awaited dream…the fulfillment and physical manifestation of what has been one of those, “If I could do anything I want with my life it would be…” wishes.

I know that everyone can relate to that line of thinking.  We all do it.  We all have areas of our life that we would like to change to live a more fulfilled life.  It could be in our career choice, our family life, our love life, our health, our social circles, the list is almost endless.  So many of us will never act on those thoughts either out of fear, feeling that we can’t do it,  or we believe we have limitations that make it impossible.  Many will stay where they are at and convince themselves that’s all there is for them.

Well, TODAY, I am opening a venue of opportunity for all of us to connect in a community where you can get insights, in many forms, that helps you to realize for yourself, that no matter what your wishes are, it comes down to your own personal CHOICES & CHANCES–those you take and those you make!

Ten years ago, my journey began.  My eyes started opening to just how possible a fulfilled, accomplished, rewarding, love filled healthy life was.  I started realizing how many CHOICES & CHANCES I actually had and where I needed to begin.

January 27, 2000, my mother, who was 58 years old, with no diagnosed medical problems, passed away very suddenly.  It was very traumatic for our family.  Our lives were thrust into immediate change and the lesson that I learned over that first year was that TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE.  We know not the time nor the hour, so living and loving each day is not an option!  We can’t get time back so it’s up to us to either use it or lose it.

On January 27, 2004, my husband had an accident.  Once again, our family was thrust into immediate change.  Over the next 10 months he endured 2 surgeries and long hours of rehab and our family had to make many adjustments.  This time, the lesson was BEING PREPARED AND FLEXIBLE.  Anything can happen, on any day, and we have to take time to plan for sudden changes, put things in place to allow us some sense of security, when we do find ourselves in an emergency. 

October 6, 2009 was probably my most profound lesson… NEVER MAKE CHOICES OUT OF FEAR!  The unraveling of those decisions can make things even more complicated than they were before or leave one feeling even more in conflict than ever before.  In January 2009, I had accepted  a career position with a prestigious investment firm…and I had made that decision out of fear of not having money.  I convinced myself that I could adjust, I could meet the requirements for success in the company.for the security of the money to be made..the problem was though I had an interest in the field, it wasn’t my passion.  It wasn’t something that I felt so committed to that I would make big sacrifices in my time and family to carry out.  It truly was not a fit for me and it became more and more obvious as each day passed.    It took me to places of being so miserable that it took me nearly 2 months to recover physically.  Yes, your body does respond in negative ways when we are in deep conflict.

It was that week that while driving in my car, I flipped the radio station to a talk show where a woman was talking about her experience in which she had pushed herself so much for projects that were putting her in conflict that it landed her bedridden.  She explained how she knew at that point that she HAD to make changes.  She knew that she had to make a choice.  She knew that when she made that choice there would be no turning back. 

She proceeded to paint the picture of a cliff-diver, putting their toes at the end of the rock, looking down to the jagged cliffs below, and then while spreading arms wide, how those divers take the LEAP.  She explained in one profound statement how she wasn’t so much afraid of the leap, but how she had to TRUST GOD once she left the edge of the cliff that he would be there when she hit the water to help her swim!  Well, that statement hit me like a ton of rocks!  I figured out that I had made so many decisions in my lifetime with misaligned honor.

I have always been a believer in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but I had always made my decisions in my life honoring MYSELF, and not placing my honor in God’s hands.  

I jumped out of the car when I got home and immediately started writing down my thoughts.  I  realized I had to start over from my very core and the place to begin, was to sit down, and focus on where my honor and trust truly needed to be placed to move forward.  I was so good at saying I believed and honored, but I soon discovered how much I didn’t  TRUST.  I read the words in the Bible, I listened to the words, but then did not take those words and INJECT them into my life.  I realized that while I was only a twinkle in someone else’s eyes, God had in mind what my talents would be, what my interests would be–my blueprint was already created.  The problem was, I wasn’t tuning in to Him to have him help me read and follow the plan.

It’s difficult to live between 2 worlds–the Divine and the Human, but if we start with a decision in which we know What and Whom we honor, then, and only then, can we can begin to make Choices & Chances for a truly fulfilled life. 

So, I ask you today, have you decided Whom and What you will honor with your life?  Take some time to ponder that thought today…and write it down…keep it someplace you can view often to remind you where to begin.  I hope you will share your thoughts with me and the others who will be reading this post so we can all connect and create a community filled with many who are CREATING THE LIFE THEY CAN’T WAIT TO LIVE!