Tag Archives: true self

Who am I?

In my workplace, they have announced that there will be layoffs soon. This will be the third time in 4 years. This time it is a little different, the previous layoffs were for staff reductions. The current layoff is due to outsourcing the department that I work in.

We still don’t know when, just why. As I try to uplift my fellow employees, as I was their supervisor until the last layoff, I try to focus on their talents and potential. During one very serious discussion, we spoke about who we were. There are lots of long term employees who are nervous about the upcoming cuts. I have 30 years in service. With so many years in service, many are unsure what they might do, or even can do. I reminded them that they are not what they do. Something I had to realize several years ago.

I shared with them that I once was very ill and that I felt that I could not continue working the position that I had. I told my manager at the time that I could not continue in that position and understood perfectly that he would need to replace me. I was ready to move on to whatever path awaited me, but my manager offered me another position that was less physically demanding and I remained with the company.

I came to grips that what we do isn’t necessarily what we are or who we are. Employers will find others to fill our positions. But the person we are cannot easily be replaced. I am a: father, son, brother, husband, friend, citizen, uncle, nephew, cousin, student, teacher, mentor, mentee, worshipper, and even a sinner. I am all these things. So even if I am chosen to leave my employ, I am still me. I will just have to seek other ways to use my energy and talents. I’m thinking about going back to school. But I will have to wait and see what will happen. Until then I will concentrate on who I am, my potential, my talents, my passions. I am me.

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It’s Always Been That Way

As humans, we usually look for patterns. Even if we go out and look for the exotic, we still find comfort in the routine. We feel comfortable in knowing that things will be as we expect them to be. Life is challenging and ever changing. Events and relationships have a way of upsetting our comfortable setting.

Many times at work, I question why we do things a certain way. The answer I usually receive is that it is just the way it’s always been done. I might even hear, it works, so don’t change it. I like to try to streamline reporting and tasks to make it easier for everyone involved. It usually works, but sometimes what is easier for me, isn’t necessarily easier for someone else. What I change might make someone else very uncomfortable. I am sure that you have had this happen to  you as well. What makes perfect sense to me might befuddle someone else and vice versa.

This can happen in relationships too. We rely on our experiences from our childhood. Our family worked in a particular way, whether we liked it or not, that is the way it was. Sometimes we don’t think it could be different because it’s always been that way.

In a family relationship, especially in a blended family, bringing all these expectations and traditions together can result in a confusing mix of priorities. What is very important to one person may not be important at all to another. It isn’t right or wrong, it is just different. We bring with us our own understanding of what is normal and natural and how it should be done.

What might be very important to one might make another downright uncomfortable. Usually out of love, we genuinely try to respect and honor the differences. But it is difficult to always be mindful of what is important to someone else when it might not hold such gravity with us. It is part of being selfless, but our minds and bodies will remind us of our own needs.

I think the difference between work and home is that we expect work to dictate our actions and activities even when they don’t necessarily make sense to us. We usually do not practice that same flexibility at home, which is both good and bad. It is good that I can be myself at home but sometimes being myself might irritate others, just as they might irritate me. Any time you bring two or more people together for any reason; there is a possibility of conflict. It takes concerted effort to agree to goals and actions and move forward. It’s always been that way.

So we need to be mindful that everyone comes from their own series of experiences that colors their behavior and beliefs. In a work environment, it is to recognize the talents and strengths of those around us. We need to offer our own strengths and talents to lead to success.  In our family relationships we need to recognize that each of us have traditions ingrained in us by our childhood. It is up to us to decide which traditions to keep, which to discard, and which to meld into the tradition of others. In a sense, we need to make new traditions that not only work for us but for those around us.

Change is tough. Challenges are real. Opportunities to be better exist. It requires us to be mindful. It requires us to be present. But then again, it’s always been that way.

Faith does not make things easy

Faith does not make things easy. When we are going through trials or tribulation, having faith does not make those things disappear. What faith does is give us hope that things will work out for the best. It helps us look to what is possible.

Belief is praying for rain. Faith is bringing an umbrella. Faith is powerful but without love, it is nothing.

Job, for instance, had great faith despite the fact that he lost everything. He did not know what was going on., He did not realize that he was part of a test. Yet, he kept his faith and looked forward to the time that God would reward him. Even his friends doubted the position he held, but he insisted that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

I look at every night when I go to sleep as a mini-death. I am not aware of my surroundings nor am I aware of the passage of time. O when I awake, it is as if I experience a resurrection. A chance at another day. It is a chance to make better decisions. It is a chance to do better n my life.

I hope that you see each new day as a present. To be in the present is to change the future. I hope you take advantage of the time you have.

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.

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

   I had dinner at a family restaurant this weekend. At the table there was a booklet of trivia. On the back of the book of trivia was a parable entitled “Life is Coffee.” I agreed with the parable and thought to myself that it woud be very much like something I would write. I searched the internet and found it at http://www.spiritual-short-stories.com. The booklet did not include the name of the author and I only found that the author is unknown.

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

   A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

   Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

   When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

   Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

   Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.

   Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

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Leadership

Just the other evening, the question was asked as to how we define leadership, or what is leadership? This is not a simple question. It seems simple, but I found that it took a great deal of thought. I asked myself the question, what qualities do I admire in a great leader?

The first thing that came to mind is a quality of authenticity. Someone who is authentic can be trusted, good or bad, you have an idea of how they would act or respond. They are true to themselves, they know who and what they are. They know their strengths and shore up their weaknesses by the talents of those around them.
A great leader has a vision and involves those around him or her in that vision. They care about those they lead. They know, to lead efffectively, they need to serve those who they lead. By serving them and providing the resources they need, they accomplish their own goals. They seek out the talents of those on their team and value their contributions. They seek out to cover the weaknesses of one link with the strengths of another.

A great leader is open to new ideas, changes and opinions. They know that they don’t know it all. They listen to opposing views and may respectfully disagree but yet garner what is good from the other viewpoints. A great leader is responsible for the outcome of the vision. It is their responsibility to teach, train, coach and coax their team members to succeed. A great leader trains others to be great leaders. It is a mentoring situation where information flows freely between the parties to create a stronger, more vibrant vision. He or she allows their team member to rise to the task, to take ownership of their portion. Leaders appreciate the differences in people, knowing that it takes many different talents to create an incredible force. They seek out the uniqueness of every individual. The 17th poem of the Tao says this:

When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised.
If you don’t trust people, you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!”

Jesus was an incredible leader. He deserves our awe and amazement. He said to the crowd and his disciples, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matt 23:11,12 NIV. He amazed his disciples later by washing their feet. He demonstrated to them that true leaders are exalted because of their servitude, because of their love and caring for others.

Of course, leadership involves so much more than this short article can offer. But I think it begins to answer the question, what qualities does a great leader possess? What are your thoughts?

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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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