Tag Archives: power

From Mess to Message

   As I watched Dancing With The Stars, I wondered what had happened to J.R. Martinez to cause the scarring on his face. I did a search on the internet and found a wonderful article by BooksGalore on Hubpages.  He was badly injured in Iraq in 2003 when the Humvee he was driving ran over a land mine. Trapped inside the vehicle, he received burns over 40% of his body.

He spent three years in an Army hospital with his mother by his side. He endured more than 30 operations consisting of facial surgery and skin grafting. One of his ears was missing. He was devastated with his new face and lost his will to live. He began to view his life more positively with the help of his mother. He now is a national spokesman for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, an organization that serves veterans seriously wounded or disabled. The article quoted him as saying, “I was a mess, but now I’m a message.”

This story is incredibly inspiring to me. It shows that J.R. and many like him prove that we cannot know what we are capable of enduring until faced with great challenges. I think this story can be applied to many, many people. Although maybe not as extreme as J.R.’s example, can you think of anyone who has survived and overcome great challenges, maybe even not so great challenges? How about the single mother who works a job while attending nursing school so that she can provide a better life for herself and her children? How about the woman who survived breast cancer and is confident in her beauty despite suffering a double radical mastectomy? How about the physically challenged child who competed their first Special Olympics and was awarded with smiles, hugs and kisses?

Like J.R., they all can have a message. That message is, but certainly is not limited to, “I am someone special. I am strong in my own way and can overcome. I am worth it.” They teach us to see around our obstacles and to reach beyond our limits.

The Journey

It has been said that life is a journey and rightly so. And like any journey, it is accomplished by taking step after step. Lao Tzu wrote that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Our journey in life is measured in time and the steps that we take as we move through that time. It begins at conception, we move forward through growth until we emerge from the birth canal and we begin to experience the outside world without the protection and filter of our mother’s womb.

There are times that we need to rest and be still, enjoy what we have or seek respite from the stresses of life. But even then, it soon becomes time to start again. Our life is not meant to be stagnant. We are meant to learn, explore, and gain experiences.

I love to learn. I have learned through books, lectures, listening to others’ experiences, and of course from my own. The more I learn, the more I realize that I know so little. I appreciate things more because of the loss I have suffered or have seen others suffer. I’ve learned not to take everything so seriously. Some paths are merely distractions but we can’t forget to get back to the vital path. There is so much to learn in this world. I am equally amazed at the viewpoints that people have of the same situation. One person sees a challenge whereas another sees an immovable obstacle. One person is inspired while another is defeated. Our experiences through our journey shape our character and our responses. But even so, we still decide the next step, the next turn of our journey. We can go above and beyond our response, decide which is the best course and take the next step in our life.

Sometimes we are stopped because we do not choose to take an alternate path in our journey. We repeat the same steps that failed us before. I have done this myself but I hope that I have learned from this. We might move from relationship to relationship picking the same type of person even though we know that that particular trait will eventually frustrate us. We may choose to be with a weak individual because we feel we can “fix” them or maybe we feel unworthy to be with anyone else.

We must look at our path ahead, examine where we came from and choose our next step wisely. We will make mistakes. I will make a mistake. None of us is perfect. Yet, we seem to learn more from our failures then our successes. It is overcoming the struggles that burn the lessons into our brains. It is overcoming the struggles that help us realize our inner strength, humble us and allow us to seek the aid and advice of others.

Life is a journey. I have not reached my destination. I look forward to the next part of my journey. Although I cannot control all that happens on my journey, I can choose to respond wisely to those things I can control.

Maybe I will see you on the path. Maybe we can help each other move ahead. Our paths may be different but our quest of self realization is the same. May your travels be filled with wonderful experiences.

English is Tricky

While in school, English was one of my favorite subjects. I find words fascinating and beautiful. Words can create images in your mind. They can cause emotions to rise. They can excite your senses. They can bore you. Words are powerful. They have overthrown governments, spurred men into battle and began reformations. Very few people use English properly, mainly due to our dialects and local inflections. It seems that foreigners speak and use English so much better than we do. As a matter of fact, proper English can sound foreign.

I remember trying to teach my children rules about English and spelling. And what makes sense to a child, because you said it did, makes you realize how many exceptions there are to all the rules. To make a plural you add an “s” except in words like geese, mice and deer. Pronunciation isn’t easy either, as George Carlin pointed out: bomb, comb, and tomb which look like they should rhyme, but do not.

Here is a wonderful ABC song by Bare Naked Ladies that brings out the trickiness of pronunciation and silent letters.

Government Budget Blame Game

Who is to blame for the budget troubles our nation faces? It is not an easy question. The current budget problem took decades to create. It is a result of mostly good intentions, compassion and over-promised services. It is easy to blame politicians but the will of the people generally dictate how they act. They hear what we say.  We say, “I want cuts in the budget as long as the things that benefit me aren’t cut. I think taxes should be raised just not my taxes. I want things to be different just not different for me. I don’t want less, I want more.”

We reward those politicians that promise us more, that give us more. We punish those that might want to take anything away. Politicians know this. It is the nature of the beast, they do what needs to be done in order to be re-elected.

There is new talk about making tough decisions, but yet I am still unsure. The entitlements will demand more and more of our budget until there is very little for anything else. The government will have to borrow more and more until it is unable to even pay the interest on the money that it owes. Our government will loose the respect and admiration of the global economy. I am very much afraid that the U.S. dollar may fall away from being the reserve currency of the world. That would be devastationg to our economy and lead to runaway inflation.

I sincerely hope that it never comes to this. I believe that we should gradually reduce entitlement provisions over the next 20 years. It will be painful but not as painful as the implosion of our economy if we do not take action soon. I hope that we will have some young, idealistic leaders who will manage to make tough decisions regardless of the political fallout, or maybe it will be the mature politician who wants to leave a mark on history and save the world from itself.

We are a resilient people. I believe our leaders will make the tough decisions and preserve the future not only for ourselves but for our children and our grandchildren.

Lines on the Road

I was driving home from a family gathering during a snowfall, not quite a snowstorm but not a gentle fall either. It was the kind of snow that stuck fast to the road. This is unpleasant to drive in on its own, but it was on a winter evening and sunlight had faded away hours before. The roads were not unfamiliar but even so, the lines were hidden by the snow which meant I had to guess where the lines might be; every once in a while, the lines appeared through the snow to guide me.

Our path in life is like this. We have signs to follow, paths to take, lines to guide us. Sometimes these lines are obscured by happenings in our life and at other times, we simply ignore them. There are also times that we see signs that are unfamiliar or that we may misinterpret.

We have guide books as well. One is the Bible. It guides us and provides us with lines and paths that we can choose to follow. We have had many wise men throughout history that have passed their wisdom onto us. It is up to us to look for this wisdom and use it. We have other guides in our life, those who we respect. I hope that there is someone like this in your life.

There are times we come to crossroads and complicated intersections. It is sometimes difficult to choose the right path. Sometimes it is even difficult to know which path is the right path. That is why we must observe our surroundings, study the alternatives, and attempt to make wise choices. If we take a wrong turn, then we must learn from our mistakes and seek a better path.

Just like I needed the lines on the road to help me navigate on my journey, I need guidance to travel the paths in my life. I need to ask for directions and if my experience allows, provide direction to others. I am sure that I will make many errors, but I know that there are signs that will help me find my way. Life is an incredible journey, just look for the lines on the road.

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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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Changes, Changes, Changes

We are all faced with changes, little changes almost daily, but sometimes we are faced with major changes. Changes in the major area of our lives, such as employment, residence, relationships, and health, can cause much stress and even joy. All changes cause us some stress, both good and bad. Not all stress is bad. Stress is what can give us the ambition to move forward, to conquer the challenge in front of us. Stress can also wear us down and, if we aren’t careful, can defeat us.

   Like everyone else, I have had significant changes in my life. Joining the Army was a great thing for me. When I first experienced basic training, it was a shock to my system, a cultural shock. I survived. There was a time I wanted to give up, but I was forced to muddle through. I had to find the courage to get through the technical brainwashing of tearing a person down and then building that person back up in the form of a soldier. Sure, that sounds terrible at first, but I am the better for it.

   Then there was the transition of moving from a structured life of the Army back to the civilian life. You see, the soldiers have to give up the rights that civilians enjoy in order to protect those very rights for others. When I entered the Army, I don’t think I really appreciated the freedoms and privileges that I had. When I came out, I knew just how important, just how bloody important, those rights and privileges were, paid for by the sweat, life and blood of soldiers long before I had the honor to serve.

   The next change was marriage. I married a wonderful girl from Upstate NY, as this was the place of my final assignment in the Army. Another big change came when my oldest son was born on my 26th birthday. Oh, what a wonderful birthday present! Married life was hard. Relationships are hard work. I know that I didn’t get it all right, but I did my best to support my wife and children. It is my opinion that I had a good marriage that ended badly. I will be forever grateful to my loving wife who spent her time and energy to that most noble profession of wife and mother. I will always love her.

   Another change that affected me very deeply was the final days of my father’s life. You can read all of that in my blogs concerning Lessons from Death.

   Now, I am faced with many, many changes. I pray fervently for direction and that God reveals his will to me. This is all happening close together. My challenges are:

  • Employment: After a reorganization at my  workplace, I kept my job but the responsibilities have increased and changed. I am still trying to sort out priorities and procedures that will lead to daily success in my job.
  • Residence: I plan to move to another town, leaving my home to my son and his new bride. I will miss my home of 12 years. I just love my kitchen and master bathroom. But I look forward to experiencing a new chapter of home, building memories and comfortable, loving surroundings.
  • Relationships: I am moving from romance toward a marriage-minded romantic situation based on Proverbs 31. As well as working to stay connected to my, now married, son. My other son is still with me. I recently experienced the death of a loved one, who I often think of and I miss her.
  • Health: I am dealing with the ever-growing pain of arthritis and inflammation, and the daily stiffness and challenges that come with controlling chronic pain.
  • Financially: I have willingly increased my financial burdens by promising to help my sons, my girlfriend, and my favorite charities even more than before and also increase the amount that I pay towards debt.
  • Spiritually: My prayer life has increased with the diverse changes and stresses that are presented everyday. Luckily, someone who loves me dearly, reminds me of my own words to look on the bright side and trust in God.

But, alas, I will survive. These changes are temporary, character building and more of life’s adventures. I know that all of this will turn out for the best. I trust God to guide my course to love, happiness and fulfillment.

   I found a song by Rebelution called Courage to Grow. I thought I would share it here. I hope you enjoy it. My best to all my readers. May you all be blessed with love and abundance. Take care, stay well and be safe.

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Congratulations, You’re a Mentor!

   You affect people’s lives because, whether you know it or not, your attitude and actions impact others throughout the day.  You are an example of what you believe and how you think.  So how do you want to affect those around you?  Positively, I hope.  If you project kindness and abundance, then you will attract the same.

   The proper definition of mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.  I have no argument with this definition.  I have several mentor relationships where I coach, constructively critique, encourage, hold accountable, support and cheer on my mentee.  But, I think all of us are capable of casually mentoring others even for a moment, without establishing a true mentor/mentee relationship.  And the most wonderful product of mentoring is not only the knowledge and attitudes that are passed on, but that the mentor learns from the mentee.  The mentor hones their skills, reinforces their skill sets, and builds a better world one mentee at a time.

   Mentors are all around us, both living and dead.  Certain individuals will impact society for centuries or even millennia to come.  Jesus, Ghandi, Buddha, Einstein are examples of mentors.  They teach us by their thoughts, actions and legacy.  They can become our mentors.  If they affect our lives profoundly and we pass on their knowledge, we are not only teachers, but mentors for those that learn from us.

   When we are honest with ourselves and reflect on what we know and don’t know, we can seek out mentors to help us learn what we don’t know and help us overcome our weaknesses.  We can seek out accountability partners who will keep us on task or at least working towards our goals.  You can do this for others.

   Mentoring is sometimes viewed as a one way process, the mentor teaches, the student learns.  But I think mentoring is more fluid than that.  I think we have mini-mentoring opportunities each and every day.  If you are a parent, it is your duty to mentor your children.  They naturally observe and learn from you every day.  Mentoring is serious business, one that can be incorporated into your life and be a source of joy and satisfaction, a fulfillment of your purpose.

   So congratulations, now that you know you are and can be a mentor, a shining example, each day, you can affect lives in a positive way and improve yourself in the process.  Learn by teaching and teach by learning, it’s a two way street.  Use the strengths and lessons that you have learned through your own struggles to help those who may be going through the same thing.  You may not even see results right away, maybe not at all, but you never know, that one brush with mentoring today just may change someone’s life forever.  Never underestimate the power you have to affect others, and use that power wisely.

   Take care, stay well, and be safe.

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