Tag Archives: belonging

Your World Community

I was thinking about the vast array of connections that we have in our everyday objects. We don’t normally consider the tens, hundreds or even thousands of people, often in diverse places, that are involved in procuring, designing, producing, transporting and retailing the products and services in your life. I am amazed at the ingenuity and design that go into the products that we use every day. For instance, the car you may drive has so many different materials and technologies. It is quite possible that several hundreds of people were involved in producing it. As much as those people put their touch into your car, you affected them with your purchase. No matter what your job is, your efforts and your consumption adds to the community. So even if you are a loner, hiding from the world, the efforts of the world are still around you.

Think about how people you will probably never meet have made your life better. This isn’t necessarily the things you own, but the roads you use, the sidewalks, the buildings, everything you see and do have been made possible by community. Think about the community that supported you – not just your parents, but other relatives, friends, teachers, bosses, co-workers, etc. All of these people and many more have touched your life. More importantly, in ways you may never realize, you have touched many lives as well, not only personally, but through you work and consumption. You need the community and the community needs you.

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Holiday Season

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is often called the Holiday Season. My favorite part of this time of the year is the time spent with family. Most families make a special effort to be together. Hopefully, it is a joyful time that reinforces the connections that bind us, whether it be through blood or mutual caring.

It is a time that we send and receive cards and letters, emails and texts to one another, establishing even the briefest of connections. It is a chance to let those you care about know that you are there. And it is a chance to reminisce, even painfully, those that are no longer with us.

It is a time that we are reminded to wish well our fellow man, to seek goodness in others and demonstrate love and generosity to those around us. It really is a mission that should be the goal of every day.

Now that we have entered a new year, we may or may not make resolutions, but each day in this new year is another chance to make our path and lives better by choosing wisely, loving deeply and learning from life’s lessons. It is a time that we are reminded of new opportunities in moments not yet realized.

I hope you experienced a wonderful holiday season. I hope you take this and every opportunity to look around you, realize the world is full of wonder and awe, and to be thankful for all that you have.

Changes for the better

Last week, my wife and I helped my son move from our home to his own apartment – his first. He was dealing with the nervousness and excitement of the prospect of living on his own. He now would be making his own decisions, preparing his own meals and taking care of his own place. It was a task that he was looking forward to, but at the same time, just a bit unsure of himself.

We all go through times like this, whether it is a dwelling place move, a new job, or opening a new business. These opportunities mix nervousness, fear, excitement, and joy. Each time we overcome even a small obstacle it boots our confidence. It can boost our self-reliance, and if we do need help, it can shine a light on who can help us and who really cares. It is a very broad learning opportunity.

My wife has been an empty-nester before, but this is the first time for me. I am very proud of my son for making this leap. We did our best to set him up with the basics that he needed to help ensure that he would succeed. I went on a strenuous hike with him yesterday at Stony Brook State Park in Dansville, NY. It is a beautiful park and very well maintained. We had a chance to talk while we climbed up and down steps more numerous than I cared to count.  My son told me that he is excited about his new life but that he missed me. I admitted, gladly, that I missed him too. But I assured him, that no matter where we were geographically, I would be there for him. This was especially true since just the night before, I went to the hospital with Brandon as he cut his finger with a knife so deeply that he required stitches. He was preparing a salad for his work that night. I am so glad that he is carrying on good eating habits. I know that he will do well. Knowing that will make my transition to becoming comfortable as an empty-nester that much easier.

But, What If I’m Not?

We have just passed Thanksgiving Day and quickly moving towards the Holiday seasons. It is this time of year that we are reminded to be thankful and grateful for what we have. But, what if I’m not?

Life has its challenges. It has its darker moments for everyone. What if, at this time of the year: you lost someone close to you; you lost your job; you had a medical emergency; you lost everything? What if things just aren’t going well at all..

Hey, it happens. There will be times that will steal our joy and plunge us into the darkness of sadness, anxiety and anger. But these things, too, will pass. It is these times that you find yourself a quiet place, then scream, shout, cuss, curse, cry and just let it all out. But just for a little while, a few minutes or so. Expressing your anger, grief and disappointment to God will let you blow off steam. You will get it off your chest. Does this change anything? Not really. But it does give you a point to move on.

And for being grateful. You can still be grateful. You can be glad that you survived. You can be impressed by your strength to move forward. You can count the blessings of your friends and family. I try to be positive most of the time. But life gets to us all. It is okay to be alone, get mad and yell at the wall. It will clear your mind. And its okay if you break down in tears and let it all out. It is part of healing and moving forward. What is not okay is staying in that place and wallowing in the pain.

So I get it that you might not always be thankful. Life is hard. It doesn’t always make sense. But you get to choose to move on, to go forward, to cope and make it better. And no, I cannot always understand the depth of pain people can feel. But I know that it is never the end. It might be tough right now, but remember, that there is the power to pick yourself up, maybe even with a helping hand. There is something, somewhere that you can be thankful for even if it resides in tomorrow.

So what if you aren’t? It’s okay, there will be another moment where you can. Life is a journey of hills and valleys with lots of intersecting paths. Hope to meet you there.

Kitchen Project 2010

   I am currently working on a kitchen project. I first moved to this house in July. It is my opinion that that two most important rooms in the house are the kitchen and the bathroom. The kitchen was dull and I wanted to liven it up. This was not only to make it more beautiful for myself but also as an act of love for my new “family.”

   I think this project has done and is doing much to bring my wonderful lady, my son and I together as a family and making this house feel like a home. I believe anywhere can be home. Home is where you are loved and accepted. Home is where you feel safe and protected. But this creates a feeling of home because we have each shared in creating its beauty.

   Theresa, my girlfriend, has lived on her own for a long time. She is not accustomed to have other people in her house. My son and I are demonstrating that we want to contribute to making the house a comfortable and beautiful place to live.

    The kitchen is full of cabinets, which I really didn’t realize how many until I marked the doors. The cabinets were white and the walls tan. It was very subdued and drab. We painted the walls a sunny yellow and the cabinets a lime green There are 23 cabinet doors, all painted ultimate white in high gloss. 22 of those doors will display some type of painted art in the center, each door unique amongst the others.

    This is also my plan to create wonder and beauty in the kitchen. I am painting each door using stencils and some free hand strokes. You are most welcome to visit the growing photo album here:

   Kitchen Project 2010

    I hope that you take time to involve others in projects around your home. Do not view it as a chore but as an opportunity to connect with ones you love. It is a great way to learn about aspects of a project, build skills, build confidence and a great source of therapy. I know I am enjoying this project. I have a lot of painting left to do. Check the photo album for additional pictures. There are 22 doors and 3 panels to be painted to complete the project.

   Take care, stay well and be safe. With much love, Justin.

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If Jesus Came to Your House

I was conversing this evening about old songs that I remembered. I remembered songs called Running Bear, Home on the Range, and Teddy Bear. Teddy Bear was sung by Red Sovine. I commented that I had not heard a Red Sovine song in a very long time, so I looked up another one of my favorites of his that goes well with this blog. It is one that makes you think. I am not perfect and Jesus knows I am not, but He also knows I try my best. Here are the lyrics and attached is the song. Hope you enjoy it.

If Jesus Came to Your House
Sung by Red Sovine
Written by Lois Blanchard & Craig Starrett
Lyrics copyrighted by Warner/Chappell Music

If Jesus came to your house, I wonder what you’d do.
Yes, if Jesus came to your house, to spend a day or two,
If He came unexpected, just dropped in on you.
I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honored guest,
And all the food you’d serve to Him would be the very best.
And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there,
That serving Him in your home is joy beyond compare.
But when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door
With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?
Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard?
And wish you hadn’t uttered that last loud hasty word?
And would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus just walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder if the Savior spend a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
And would your family conversation keep up it’s usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing, and read the books you read,
And let Him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?
And would you take Jesus with you everywhere you’d planned to go?
Or maybe would you change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your very closest friends,
Or hope that they would stay away until His visit ends?
And would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
Oh, it might be interesting to know the things that you would do,
If Jesus came in person to spend some time with you.

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Home Originates in ME

   What is home to you? Is it four walls and a roof? Four walls and a roof can certainly be: a house; a barn; a stable; a prison; and many other things. Home is not a place but what happens in that place, how one feels about that place, how one perceives that place. Ralph Waldo Emerson said of a house: “A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.” That does sound like a house, but that doesn’t sound like a home.

  It is most important that we realize that Home Originates in ME. It is important that the feeling of home comes from others, but it must originate in you. Only you can feel “at home” somewhere.

   Being home means being accepted, feeling safe, feeling loved, knowing that you are part of a family. Belonging is an important part of feeling at home. Robert Southey said of home, “There is a magic in that little word, it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits.”

   Home does not have to be among those that are related to you, but it usually is amongst those that love and care for you. You can extend the feeling of home by returning their love, care and trust. It is then that a real home is created, regardless of the location. Home is a place where you can be vulnerable. Home is a place where you can be yourself. You find support there. And if you are going in a negative direction, the members of your family, your home, will try to steer you back. They do this because they love you. None of us wants to see someone we love go in a negative direction. How can we love someone and then stand by to see them seek their own destruction?

   I know that Home Originates in ME. It is my desire to show love to a person that begins the feelings of home. I must show them that they are accepted. It is my responsibility to show them that they are valued and needed. I want them to feel necessary. I want them to feel wanted. It is in these feelings that they can feel at home in me and with me, no matter where we might be.

    We often think of “Mom” when we think of home. And this is usually the person that creates the home. “It is a woman, and only a woman — a woman all by herself, if she likes, and without any man to help her — who can turn a house into a home,” says Frances Cobbe. I do not completely agree. I do believe the chief homemaker is generally a woman, but I think it is everyone’s responsibility within the family to create the feeling of home. It is our willingness to be vulnerable and open to others and allow them to be vulnerable and open to us; it is our willingness to love and be loved, to accept ourselves and others and be accepted by them; it is our willingness to give them a place in our heart, a place called “home.” It is a safe place, a place to love and to cherish one another. Remember that “home” starts with you and you can say to yourself, “Home Originates in ME.” 

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Relationships and Intimacy

   Valentine’s Day is here and thoughts of romance are in the air. Some relish in their romantic relationships, others are in anguish because they wish for romance. These types of holidays are always bittersweet. I draw your attention to intimacy, romantic or not, and the incredible love that is found there. Like other holidays, Valetine’s Day should be an everyday affair.

   Love is simple, relationships are very difficult. There are so many different kinds of connections that create relationships, not just romantic or physical. This is a list of possible connections that create various relationships with others;

   Social = friends, acquaintances, co-workers

   Family = relatives both close and not so close

   Spiritual = religious, beliefs

   Caregiving = all aspects

   Professional = client, service worker, customer, supervisor

   Sensual = significant other, life partner, sexual

   Greater/Lesser = Teacher/Student, Supervisor/Employee, Parent/Child

       You can connect to others in one or more of these ways. The relationship that you have depends on what connected you in the first place as well as where the relationship may grow or change. Relationships are fluid. They can and do change. Just because a relationship changes, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t remain precious. I still love and care about the women I have known in my life. My wife of 20 years was a wonderful woman. I suppose that there were needs that I could not fulfill and that my wife could not have filled otherwise within our marriage. Our relationship ended badly but it doesn’t erase the many, many years of love, wonder and beauty that we had. I will always be grateful for that time and for her. Other relationships had their own uniqueness and their own treasures and tortures. I will hold on to the beautiful memories and lessons from them as well. I have made friends, lost friends, connected and disconnected with relatives. Relationships are in constant flux. We must accept them as so.

   When someone says “relationship” though, we usually think of a romantic connection, which certainly is possible. In regards to a romantic connection, it can vary in intensity depending on the level of intimacy. Intimacy is a connection that is very deep, very complete and very safe. If you can speak your heart to someone without fear, then you are experiencing intimacy.

   You can share intimacy without sex. You can share sex without intimacy. Sex and intimacy can be enjoyed together.

    Intimacy is not just between lovers. It can exist between any two individuals who allow themselves to be a safe haven for each other. If a romantic relationship also involves intense intimacy, then that relationship is indeed strong. There are different types of intimacy. You can experience one or more of these types. The more ways you experience intimacy with a particular person, the deeper your love and connection can reach.

    Intimacy can be obtained on these levels: emotional, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, and physical. Intimacy means real connection. Intimacy means trust. Intimacy means giving yourself completely to someone because you know they have only your best interest at heart. Intimacy means not expecting perfection but expecting sincere effort and granting forgiveness. Intimacy means the risk of exposing your very soul. Intimacy is an incredible form of love, romantic or not.

  You can share intimacy without sex. You can share sex without intimacy. Sex and intimacy can be enjoyed together.

   Some think sex and intimacy are the same. Mostly men think this. I can say this as I am a man. Intimacy is a skill. It must be learned. It must be experienced. It must be practiced. It comes easier to women, I think, because they are taught to nurture and to be caring, and are probably naturally inclined that way. Boys may be too, but I was taught that boys don’t cry, they don’t show emotion as that denotes weakness, which I have since unlearned. So ladies, be gentle with us. We need to be taught that intimacy is possible and that it is different from sex.

   You can share intimacy without sex. You can share sex without intimacy. Sex and intimacy can be enjoyed together.

    You can have an intimate relationship with people who you have no desire to have sex with. You can have an intimate relationship with a friend, a relative, a mentor, or anyone else you have trust and respect for. Most importantly, you can have an intimate relationship with God. God certainly loves you. God wants what is best for you. God is a safe haven for everyone. Find intimacy with God and you can share yourself easier with others.

   Emotional intimacy allows you to cry, to laugh, to scream, to be still and allow yourself to be loved. Intellectual intimacy allows you to share ideas, dreams and thoughts without fear of ridicule or rejection. Sexual intimacy allows you to give your body and to share theirs for the glory of sensations that our minds and body crave. Spiritual intimacy allows us to solidify our faith in others, in ourselves, and in God. Physical intimacy is a handshake, a warm hug, a kiss, the holding of hands, a shoulder massage, an abandonment of personal space that welcomes the touch and closeness of another. Guys, this is called “cuddling” – a powerful way to show your love.

   During this time of Valentine, don’t just concentrate on romance, but think about all the different kinds of relationships that you have. Think about the level of intimacy that you have with different people. Let those lucky enough to have intimacy in your relationship know how much you love and appreciate them. Love is a tremendous gift and a powerful force. And never forget, grow your intimacy with God.

   God bless you. Take care, stay well and be safe.

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Appreciating Little Things Challenge

    As Valentine’s Day approaches, and marketing departments everywhere push their chocolates, teddy bears and cards, people are encouraged to think about their loved ones. Like most holidays, I think this one should be practiced daily.

     Take a few moments to think about the little things that people do for you everyday that show they love and care about you. It is so easy to take these things for granted and forget to appreciate them. Even regular tasks can be filled with love and often are. Someone making dinner might do it everyday because it is part of their responsibility, but there are small touches of love added. Does that person choose foods that is a favorite of one of the kids, maybe a surprise dish, a new dish to provide adventure perhaps. Yes, even the most mundane of tasks  involve love. Does someone check the oil in your car so you don’t have to? Do they change the TV channel so that you can watch your favorite show? Do you recognize these things as appreciation for you, love for you, something that says “I am glad you are part of my world.” Look for these things throughout the day and you will realize how much love truly surrounds you.

    Now the challenge: leave a comment here (if there is no comment box, click on the comment hyperlink near the top of this article) and describe what someone has done for you that shows that you are loved. You can comment on grand things as well but I ask that you concentrate on the littlest of things that someone has done for you to show you that you are loved. Read the comments of others, again, if they aren’t showing, click on the comment hyperlink or the article heading. Please accept this challenge.

   At this time, don’t write about what you have done to show someone that you care, as I hope you do many of those things. This is to help you and all of us to realize that love abounds. By sharing your examples, others will realize that love surrounds them too.  Thank you in advance for sharing.

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Belonging, What Is It?

   Do you belong?  I belong to many things, but do I really have a sense of belonging? What is belonging?  A sense of belonging is essential to our human psyche, but I think each of us require different levels of belonging.  Belonging to a group gives us esteem but can also make us targets by others.  Belonging gives us a sense of community, a connection with others.

   Our sense of belonging may be stronger for one community than another.  I consider myself a citizen of the world, though admittedly, I haven’t seen all that much of it – saving it for retirement, I guess.  I am also a citizen of the USA.  I belong to a group called American.  I belong to other groups as well.

   Where I get my strongest sense of belonging is among those that accept and love me.  I suppose you can call them family, even though they aren’t all related to me by bloodline.  So, is belonging a matter of acceptance?  Is it a matter of deep connection?  I think so.

   Belonging can provide us with a sense of self, a measure of who we are.  I ask you to remember that no matter what group or community you belong to, you are unique in your own way.  You can still belong and still be a true reflection of yourself.  Find your talents, reach for your dreams — who are you to deny the world your special gifts?  You belong to the world and the community that it represents.  You belong to the Creator and Master of the Universe.

Take care, stay well, and be safe.

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