Tag Archives: inner strength

The Certainty of Uncertainty

As much as we might like to think we know what the future holds, we really do not. Anything can happen to keep us on our chosen path or derail us. We need to be prepared for uncertainty as much as we can be. Of course, we cannot cover every possibility. A town less than an hour from where I live was struck with torrential rains and gale force winds. When the storm was over, homes were flooded and damaged. This came as a great surprise. The news showed the residents coming together to help out with assistance coming from other areas as well. We just don’t know what might happen tomorrow.

Each time I drive by a serious accident on my way to work, I hope that there were no fatalities. There are times I am surprised that the driver lived. Even though I don’t know the driver of a fatal accident, I cannot help but think of the profound affect that this accident had on the family. The sudden death of a family member leaves the family confused, angry and anxious for the future. It is never hard to face the loss of a family member.

Other losses, such as a loss of a job or career, can cause just as much anxiety. Even when we get news about a severe or terminal medical condition is a loss. Again, we never know what might happen. But one thing we can do is live in the moment. Knowing that we are in someone’s heart, their thoughts, and prayers can be comforting. It is important that we look inside ourselves for strength. It is also important that we look to others for support. I certainly hope that you have those persons or organizations to give you support when you might need it. If you are a religious person, seek out God. Your faith can be your comfort, even if you have to be angry and shout at God at first because you just can’t understand why. It’s okay, God has very large shoulders.

Whatever might come your way, I wish for you speedy healing. If it is a door that closes, remember that every exit door is an entrance to somewhere else. We cannot know what will happen tomorrow. We need to plan for the unknown, but live in the present. It is paying attention to the now that builds the bridges to tomorrow. We might not know what is around the bend in the path, but what we do can determine the road.

Peace be with you.

Choosing Stress

Stress can be both good and bad. When people read or hear the word stress, they usually think of the bad type of stress, at least I do. Do we choose stress? Not on purpose, I don’t think. We tend to react to stress, thus making an automatic choice to allow the stress to rule over us. Although we cannot choose what happens to us each day, we can choose our response to those stresses. Some situations are really unavoidable for us.
For instance, on my way to work, I can have a great ride but often there are traffic obstacles. I can let these delays upset me or I can just accept that these things are inevitable. I realize that I cannot control the universe and that things will happen no matter how much I might wish they would not.
Too often we react to stress as a victim and suffer through it. In reality, it usually is a waste of time to be upset. It generally steals your joy and prevents opportunities for moving forward. Allowing stress to eat at us eventually takes its toll. Stress can cause many problems in our bodies, Continuing stress can affect: your weight;, your mental health; increase your blood pressure; raise your cholesterol; headaches; stresses your immune system; and your digestion.
We can take steps to alter the situation or take steps to change the situation. We can realize that we might not be able to change it so we accept it and try to learn from it. And if possible, we can try to avoid it. These are all ways we can respond to stress. Each one of these responses will vary in success depending on the nature of the stress.
I would rather choose peace whenever I can. Most of the stresses are beyond my control. I realize that most of it isn’t even directed at me, I just happened to get in the way. My most recent stressor involves not knowing what is going to happen with my work. But not knowing isn’t always bad. Whatever happens, there will be something to follow. What might look like an ending might be the beginning of a new adventure.
“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.” – Pema Chodron
Sometimes stresses are hard to avoid and we choose to stay with the situation or the persons who stress us. This might be a job situation or even a loved one. We need to examine what we can learn, decide what we can do, and maybe even have to make the difficult decision to remove ourselves from the situation or grin and bear it.  It isn’t always  a sign of weakness to move away from a bad situation, it can be a act of great strength and resolve. It might even open the door to a new and wonderful adventure.
There is sometimes no easy choice, but in the end, we still get to choose how we respond to stress, even when we don’t think we are choosing.

Choosing Joy and Contentment

It is cold here in upstate NY. I don’t like the cold. It had snowed for a week. The snow ended yesterday. Am I thankful for the snow? No, not really. My wife ran off the road last Thursday night and we had to get a tow truck. I am thankful that she is okay. I am thankful for all those that stopped to offer assistance. I am thankful for the tow truck driver who extracted the car. But I would rather that she did not have to go through the event.

I still don’t like the cold. It causes my joints to ache and my legs to hurt. But I am thankful that I am still mobile and still can work. Looking at the bright side of things, just like the spin doctors in the public relations arena, can help us choose joy.

Choosing joy is not easy. It takes lots of practice. I am still and always will have to practice choosing joy. Even though it is our own responsibility to choose joy, outside influences can certainly make it easier or harder. There are those, whether intentionally or not, seem to relish stealing our joy. Sometimes they are having a bad day. Sometimes they just want to share their misery. Sometimes they just might be jealous. And sometimes, it can be me.

We often can be disappointed if we have expectations as to the outcomes. We can impose our expectations on others based on what we believe, our experiences or our sense of right and wrong. We can also impose our expectations on others because of the way we think. What seems logical to us ay not be logical to others. Understanding that we control precious little can also help us choose joy by not allowing ourselves to be caught up in things that we cannot control. This is where contentment comes in. We can choose to be content by living within the control of our situation. We can control our responses. We can choose ways to cope with our situations. We can be in control of ourselves while realizing we cannot necessarily control what happens around us.

Again, it isn’t easy. It is a journey. Mother Teresa demonstrated to us that even when she placed herself amongst the poorest, the sick, and the dying, she could find joy in the love and caring she brought to others. Her example inspires others to do the same. I am sure she struggled and faced her own frustrations. She held on to her faith and hope.

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.

Looking for Joy

   We all experience things that steal our joy. Fear, worry, anger and stress are common elements in our lives that steal our joy. Our economic stresses can permeate every part of our lives. We worry about job security and adequate income. Constantly flowing bad news from our televisions and radio cause us to fear the world we live in.

The Affordable Care Act has caused worry for many and relief for some. My medical coverage has had to change because of the ACA. Because of my zip code, I was offered an equivalent policy that did not include my doctors or hospitals. To keep the care that I have grown comfortable with, I chose a less efficient policy.

The stress that steals our joy the most is that over situations that we cannot change or have no control over. These things can be anywhere in our lives. Work policies, school policies, new schedules, pressures at home can all cause stress.

Sometimes, the joy stealer comes from within us. We might feel inadequate, just not good enough. We are all different. We all have our own skills and gifts. None of us is great at everything. We all deserve to give ourselves a break. Do we have flaws? Of course. If  it something we cannot change, then we need to accept that it cannot change. If it can change, then we can work towards improving that. This gives us the confidence and self-esteem that we need to defeat the things in our life that steal our joy.

Anger gets in our way. Sure, people and even family push our buttons. But we have to realize that anger can rob of us of our joy, our relationships and even our health. Anger is not always bad. Sometimes it is good to be angry. But mostly, it does not solve anything and usually makes bad situations even worse. Forgiving those that anger you frees you from the control that they have from pressing your buttons.

So how do we get our joy back or find the joy we have lost? Instead of focusing on what is wrong, we should seek out what is good. Look for the good things in life, in others and in ourselves. We are responsible for our own joy. It is our choice. Always do your best, but even the best of us cannot live up to other people’s expectation. You always want to improve but you still have to be yourself.

Know what you can and cannot do. Try new things out of your comfort zone. If you succeed, you improve your confidence. If it didn’t work out, you still have improved your confidence because you know you tried, you learned that it was difficult, and you learned where you need to improve if you want to tackle it again.

Life will sometimes let you down. That is just the way it is because there is so much that we cannot control. We can learn from all these times, both good and bad. Having expectations of how everything should be will definitely lead to disappointment. Again, even if people don’t live up to your expectations, be patient with them. They may need nurturing, guidance. It could even mean that the person cannot meet your expectations. Your expectations may have to change.

Bottom line, your joy can be be stolen by others, but joy is found within yourself. You don’t have to let others steal your joy. This is a difficult skill to learn. It is one that I struggle with. Even those of us that try to stay positive all the time allow others to steal the joy we have. It is up to us to return the joy to our hearts and minds by trusting in ourselves, trusting in God, and being thankful for all the good in our lives. Look for and find the joy in your heart.

Opportunities from Crisis

The Chinese word for crisis is wei-chi. Wei roughly means danger and chi is part of the word that means opportunity. Even though there are arguments that this translation is inaccurate, it still makes for good argument for positive thinking.

At the time of this writing, I see no lack of crises. Each day I hear of new financial, budget and career crises. My employer, as well as many others, are “right sizing”. As much as this might make business sense, it devastates the workers that are let go, and greatly increases the burden on those left behind.

So, are there opportunities in this crisis? Quite simply, Yes. If you are one of the survivors, there is an opportunity to demonstrate established skill sets as well as picking up new ones. Management may appreciate out of the box thinking as necessity is the mother of invention. Tasks can be streamlined by dropping non-critical steps.  Survivors have the chance to really shine.

For those that were let go, it is their opportunity to examine their gifts and talents. While they look for employment for available jobs, they just might start their own free-lance business. There have been many stories of persons who have monetized their hobby, whether it be cabinetry or home crafts. Other potential jobs involve house cleaning, writing, errands, and decorating.

Sometimes, it is crisis that brings out the best in people. During natural catastrophe, we have seen people show great courage and compassion. I once wrote of the Fukishima engineers that stayed in contaminated areas to keep the nuclear reactor under control. Their courage and determination inspired me. I am sure inspired others as well.

We also have a history in this capitalist society to profit from crisis. It is crisis that inspires inventors and businessmen to see needs and create products and services to meet those needs. In our own personal crisis, we discover what our true strengths are. We may even uncover a passion that we didn’t know we had.

If you are experiencing a crisis, look for the opportunity that may be hidden within. Opportunity often presents itself in subtle ways. We need to always look for the potential in every situation, even those that cause us the most stress.

Being Tired and Stressed

   My work involves a great deal of mental challenges with occasional periods of physical exertion. It is the mental tiredness that wipes me out the most. When I am physically tired, it really is an almost “feel good” tired. As if I earned the right to be tired. Usually rest and sleep will relieve me of my physical tiredness.

   When I am mentally tired, it seems that rest just isn’t enough. Even when the body is at rest the brain can still forge ahead in high gear. There have been times when I thought I was distracted and trying to avoid the challenges of the day when a solution or clue will suddenly pop into my head. I guess that means that my brain was working on the problem anyway.

   To ward off the tiredness I try to keep my blood sugar levels up and drink coffee. I believe most people do this. I am not sure it really works, as it seems just to allow you to go further than you normally would. So I know that fresh water and carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables would serve me better, but unless I plan ahead and takes those to work with me, I usually fall back on snacks and coffee, knowing I failed to have a healthy snack and stumble stubbornly ahead.

   Like many places of employment, management, colleagues, and customers can enter panic mode and invite you along. I have been doing my job in logistics for about a quarter of a century. Everything can’t be a priority, even though it sure seems like that is what needs to happen. So, I pick out what I can do, get it done quickly and move on from there despite the panic filled queries that can sometimes bombard.

   Worrying gets me – let’s see – ah, yes – nowhere. I need to identify what is within my control, ask for help from those who do have control, and do the best I can. If worrying leads to planning, then I am all for it. But mostly, worry leads to more worry and fear and can be downright paralyzing.

   I also try to step back from the situation and look at the broader picture to make sure I don’t miss the forest for the trees. Sometimes we can be too close to a problem to see it in a different perspective.

   Multiple challenges, conflicting priorities and poorly executed stress management can leave you mentally tired even to the point of exhaustion. It can affect your ability to think and cause you to feel physically tired. The Mayo Clinic suggests eight tips to manage stress:

  • Think positively – optimism helps you to cope better
  • Embrace spirituality – exploration of your spirituality can lead to a clearer life purpose
  • Protect your time – learn to say no to demands on your time when you need to recharge
  • Keep your cool – focus on what you can do to gain control of the situation
  • Try meditation – focus your attention on one thing, such as visualizing an image
  • Seek out work and life balance – too much of either can interfere with the other
  • Keep a strong social network of friends, family and peers
  • Change your emotional response – think about stress as your reaction to an event rather than the situation itself

   In today’s world, it is very difficult to juggle all our responsibilities, obligations (voluntary or not) and goals (self-imposed or not). At times, we expect too much from ourselves. Of course, sometimes we expect too little. We need to give ourselves a break, take a little time to see what is important and move forward from there. Let’s use our stressful situations to learn new approaches, create stronger relationships and build our own character. We are where we are and who we are, and we can decide to move forward in a positive direction. Well, there is another curve in the path up ahead, see you there.

Fukushima 50

In most tragedies, there arises those tremendous souls whose bravery, unselfishness and sheer determination allow them to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. During this latest tragedy in Japan which suffered one of the world’s worse earthquakes and its subsequent tsunami, there are 180 men called the Fukushima 50. They are called that because they work in shifts of 50 each. They have either been asked by Tepco, the energy company that operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, or have volunteered. They are technicians and older men who have either already retired or about to retire. They were not chosen because they are expendable or because they have more knowledge and skilled, but their age will protect them from the long term effects of radiation. It could take 20 to 30 years for radiation related cancer to set in and many will probably die from old age before then, a lesson learned from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

From the articles and news feeds I have read, five of these brave men have died, two are missing, and 21 have been injured.  Japanese Prime Minister told the volunteers that they were the only ones who could resolve the crisis and that retreat was unthinkable. The Japanese media have heard from some of the families of these incredible men. One daughter tweeted that she was very proud of her father. Another tweeted “Please, dad come back alive.”

These men are heroes. They are facing high levels of radiation to cool down reactors and stabilize the plant to protect their families, their countrymen and possibly all the citizens of the planet. And let’s not forget the other heroes that roam the debris, looking for survivors, wrap blankets around the homeless and providing other needs. Even in the midst of tragedy, we can see the hope, the strength, the incredible beauty of the human spirit. We can see the grace of God. No matter how much we may feel we have evolved, or how sophisticated we might become, we are humbled by the incredible forces of nature.  My prayers and admiration go out to those brave men of the Fukushima 50. I pray for them to be strengthened by their courage and love for their families.

Looking Towards the Unknown

As much as some of us like to plan, the future is filled with unknowns. We cannot know exactly what is going to happen, when or even where. We have dreams and make plans but the unfolding of those will follow their own course. Sometimes we want something so much that we lose patience and end up grasping at something that may be within reach but we just aren’t ready for it. We may not be ready for the responsibilities and the consequences that accompany that which we grasp for.

Timing is important in obtaining the goals or things that we wish for. We need to keep in mind that God’s timing is perfect. Not only must we be ready for that which we desire, but that which we desire must be ready too. Alternative fuels have been around for a long time, but the nation hasn’t been ready to consider them until now. You may have broadened your education in a particular area that has not yet taken off yet. Persons moved west during the 1800’s to pioneer and homestead, some were ready but others were not. The ones who are pioneers make ideas and situations ready for the rest of us to benefit.

It is good to plan and to dream, but be aware of where you are now. Be present in your surroundings. There are clues to your future all around you. Maybe you will learn about something new that piques your interest. Maybe you learn a new way of looking at something that is old hat to you that makes it newly exciting. Look for inspiration and don’t limit your dreams or your potential.

The future is an unknown landscape. I do have plans and ideas but I know that life is full of surprises and challenges. Challenges can either stop you or empower you to move ahead, it is your choice. Challenges are part of the unknown, the fruit of the future. We need to be challenged. Have you ever felt triumph over something that wasn’t a challenge? The stiffer the challenge the deeper the victory. We all have challenges and I am forever impressed by those who have come through difficult times. You can see confidence and self-assuredness in them, and often gratitude and faith in God and for those around them who never gave up on them.

I don’t know what your future will bring you tomorrow, next week, or next year. But I hope that you will be alert to all the opportunities and blessings around you. I know there is a straight and narrow path to God, but  life’s path is filled with curves, corners, hills and forks in the road. Walk with me in this adventure called life. I would love to see you reach your full potential and reveal the loving gifts that you have to offer the world.

Take care, stay well and be safe.

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The Clock Doesn’t Stop

Tick tock, tick tock

The clock doesn’t stop.

Tick tock, tick tock

The clock doesn’t stop.

When you’re always on the go,

You want the clock to go slow.

When you want time to go fast,

The seconds seem to last, and last, and last.

Tick tock, tick tock

The clock doesn’t stop.

First of all, I want to apologize for being away from the blog for so long. Ever since my move it seems that I have no time at all. There is definitely not enough time to do all the nothing that I want to do. I honestly haven’t figured it out yet.

If you have children, the difference in time is easily apparent. If you don’t have children, and even if you do, remember when waiting for anything took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. A ten minute wait was an eternity. Ever tried to ask a child to wait patiently, it might last about 30 – seconds. C’mon, we were the same way when we were young. We wanted the days to last forever, refusing to go to sleep until the power of Morpheus overcame us.

It really doesn’t seem fair, does it; when we are enjoying something or just plain busy, time slips by, sometimes unnoticed. Just last Saturday I got out of bed at 8am and in a blink of an eye it was 11am. Then we went to the store and suddenly it was 2pm. I wish my days at work went that fast sometimes.

So what is time? God and the spiritual realm operate outside time. Jesus told his disciples that He would return in a “little while.” That was about 2,000 years ago. If the spiritual realm does have time, it must be much different than our own.

Is time merely an illusion? I am experiencing time, or at least I think I am. I am here in the present. I am aware of the past. I hope for the future. The next minute will be my present in about 60 seconds. Why does the time move steadily on the clock but my experience of time fluctuates so wildly. Why is the shortest period of time I experience occur between 5:30PM on Friday and 5:30AM on Monday. My weekends slip by. How can I grip time, hold the reins, and slow the clock?

As we live, we see time around us in nature. The sun rises, reaches it height at noon and the sun sets. We see the seasons come and go. We watch children grow. So we all realize that time is passing, even without looking at a clock or calendar. We are all given but 24 hours. The only time we really have is the present, the now. Look down at your feet. That is where you are. These moments are precious and they need to be appreciated. It is so easy to get caught up in the act of living that we forget how to live. I am guilty of this more often than I would like. I try to remind myself to slow down, smell the coffee, taste the bacon, enjoy the life that I have been granted. It takes time to hear the quiet, to see the world around us, to sense the stillness that brings peace to one’s heart.

To learn why I am so busy and where my time goes now, I must slow down and reflect. My job is incredibly busy and time consuming and so is creating a home for my new family. I think that I will rest after this writing and seek out the stillness that brings peace. I hope that you can do the same.

Take care, stay well, and be safe.

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