Legacies are Built Daily

This month one of the people who celebrates a birthday is Frank Lloyd Wright, the American architect who designed over 1000 structures was influential not only in the US but also designed some structures for other parts of the world, most notably the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan (a beautiful structure that was unfortunately demolished). I’m a big fan of not only the structures he created and planned, but I also appreciate the way that he incorporated nature, approached space and saw the world.

Wright wasn’t a perfect person, he was known to be temperamental, always struggled with finances, and was well know for the ups and downs in his romantic relationships. And yet he designed successfully through two world wars and the depression. He didn’t let his imperfections and the challenges he faced limit him in terms of inspiration or commitment to designing creative, lasting, nature-centric structures. Wright didn’t make all the right choices in life, but when it came to what arguably mattered most to him, he was focused and committed to designing and developing beautiful, functional and creative structures. As I was reading through the post remembering his life and celebrating his birth, I saw a quote from him that I think is very relevant to where we are in life today:

“We are all here to develop a life more beautiful, more concordant, more fully expressive of our own sense of pride and joy than ever before in the world.”

The challenge we’ve faced since 2020 started isn’t one that left holes in the ground, damaged buildings or caused the types of fear that are usually present when physical wars are being waged. But it has revealed many of the broken pathways in our regular lives that somehow were managing to limp along before 2020, as well as beaten many of us down and left us very discouraged and struggling to feel pride in our lives, joy in our futures and peace with how our lives have progressed over the last year and a half. I think we should take a page out of Wright’s book and commit to a future that we’re proud of and find joy in. As passionate as I am about organizing, I don’t usually follow the Marie Kondo method of organizing, but the question she uses to help people determine what to keep is one way that we can decide what we want in our future, and that’s the question of whether or not something sparks joy in us (and if it doesn’t to dispose/donate it (or pass it by in the case of making decisions for the future)).

What plans are you making for your future that are less frenetic and more focused on creates the best future for yourself, your family, your community and this world we all share?

Finding Peace in God’s Plans

With the arrival of June it seems like the world is mostly moving forward again after almost 18 months of living and working in radically different ways. I’m thankful that at least my allergies seem to have lightened up for the first time in almost two months, that fewer people are getting sick, and that jobs and work are opening up for people as well. I’m cautiously hopefully that God has helped bring us through the biggest parts of this challenge, as well as hopeful for what is to come in the rest of 2021. But as much as everyone including myself wants to see things moving and thriving again, I also recognize that these 18 months have been a big shock to many people and we should make time for healing and take time to reflect on what we really want out of life and how we live our days. I know some people are looking forward to the summer because it does normally mean slower schedules and we’re not so sure that the taste of busyness that we’ve had in the last month or so is really the thing we want to go back to.

Something that Jesus made time for in the Bible and is talked about by God through the Bible is the value in taking time to be quiet and wait. Yes, we’re people of action and God does want us doing good in the world and carrying on His mission, but even Jesus didn’t work 24/7. Jesus took time off to go into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, and from what it says in Luke 4, it doesn’t sound like He went with anyone. Some might even argue that those 40 days were some of the most important for His ministry, and at the very least that they certainly weren’t wasted days.

I hope that this experience has made us wiser people, that we’re more considerate and careful of our fellow humans, that we make more time for loving, and that we spend time with ourselves and those we care about more. And most of all, I hope that we’re continued to be reminded as we navigate out of this challenge that God is in control, and that when we turn to Him, when we wait in Him, and when we rest in Him we can not only get through but thrive in what comes next.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.”
Psalm 62:5-8

Reality Reflection: The Sands of Time

So I turned on the TV Friday night and caught the last 3 minutes of a news broadcast. Apparently at the end of whatever segment I turned on, they share a montage of pictures about what’s happened that week around the world. After watching a few photos cycle through, there was one of a veteran at a tribute wall on Memorial Day, and I had a moment of disbelief that this week had started with Memorial Day. In a week where sinkholes appear in Mexico, the Tulsa Race Massacre is remembered, and the events of Tiananmen Square were remembered about alongside the usual fires and animal adventures, we also spent time remembering the men and women who fought and gave their lives for us around the world.

Time in 2020 seemed to pass by so slowly and so strangely. It’s been almost 18 months that we’ll never forget and have changed us forever. And now in many ways our lives are filling up with variety again, such that we’re thinking about more than the basics of survival that were the constant thought since the pandemic began. People are again outside filling up the streets, going places, planning trips and filling up their schedules with all kinds of plans and activities. Time seems to have picked up its usual fast pace, leaving us more in our days than we often have time for.

But has it really changed? If you think about the last time you were at a beach or in the presence of sand, when the sand is dry it just runs through your fingers fast as you let it. But when the sand is wet it moves much slower (unless of course there’s a wave pulling it back out to sea which makes it move quicker). Wet or dry it’s still sand, so are current time and pandemic time so different?

Like other things, time is what you make of it. Sometimes it’s harder to focus or get the things you’re trying to do done, in which case you can either try to push through or maybe the wiser thing is to move onto something else first. Sometimes you do have to let a little time go by, just like the only way to get back to dry sand is to let the wet sand dry out (which ironically takes time). It may not be the right time for one thing, but it absolutely is the right time for something. What will you do with the 1440 minutes you have today?

Time for Victories

The other day I was reading over an article about a woman who died recently that I knew through the internet.  She died relatively young after finding out in December that she had cancer.   It was fascinating to read the article and learn about all that she did in her relatively short life.  It reminded me of a young girl I knew also through the internet who had cancer and died 10 years ago and before she died, she and her family started a charity delivering jars of toys and other fun things to other kids who have cancer (they’ve delivered over 350,000 now and are still going). 

When we talk about victories we often think of them in terms of how many years it will take to accomplish something.  For instance we typically go through 16 plus years of schooling before it’s generally accepted that we’re qualified to work a job and build a career.  We also think in terms of years when it comes to buying a house, that we have to build up our finances for years before we can afford one.  We also often think in terms of months or years for starting a business and the time it takes some of us to feel ready enough to be able to face the public with confidence. 

But the reality is we can make a difference whether we have 3 hours or 5 minutes, we don’t need 17 or 75 years to accomplish a victory.  Yes some victories do take time, but you should not let the understood or estimated time frame prohibit you from jumping into life with both hands.  You can make a difference in thousands of ways including those that don’t seem so significant to you like petting puppies, creating gift bags, doing a blog or podcast, baking treats, or growing plants, not to mention the big ways like being a doctor, organ donor or teacher.  And thanks to the internet you can make a difference in the life of anyone anywhere in the world. 

So pick something to do today or this weekend and get it done.  Set aside the time and resources and don’t let old excuses get in the way. 

God the Protector

This month with the annual celebration of Father’s Day, one of the things we’ll be talking about is God the Father. God is so awesome that we’re able to connect with Him in different ways, and one of those ways that He cares for us is as a father. If that’s not one of the ways you connect with or hear from God, don’t worry, it won’t be the only thing we talk about in our spiritual posts this month, it will be more of an inspiration to some of the topics.

When I think of fathers, one of the things I think of is protection. That’s one of the things good fathers have always been known for: their role as the one who protects their family members from the dangers of the world that they live in. Yes, it’s something that all adults who care about kids do, for instance if you’re attentive to kids being around you, you’ll limit the topics of conversation you go into, or take action based on the old saying “women and children first” in certain situations. It’s the one thing that throughout history has been assigned to the father of the household because God made most men stronger and more physically able than women when it comes to a physical battle or fight.

But what about when it comes to God, how does He protect? Sometimes when God is protecting He sends someone to help like a prophet or soldier or other person who leads the people first and foremost in alignment with God’s plans, but also with the power of God in such a way that enemies are defeated or disasters are planned for or averted if possible. Esther, who I shared about recently, would be one of the few women that God put in a position to protect people, but we’re also familiar with people like David, Moses and Joshua who were also leaders and protectors on God’s behalf.

And sometimes God protects on the spiritual realm. This week in my readings I read Psalm 17 which is one of several that asks God to “Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Even though we’ve always believed or known angels to have wings, I don’t know that I often think of God that way, probably because when Jesus was here on Earth He wasn’t reported to have wings. But the type of protection that “the shadow of your wings” phrase reminds me of is more of a spiritual protection that happens from/in Heaven and may not be something we see or physically experience, and protects us from non-physical dangers that we may face, as part of the spiritual battle that rages every day.

We may not like to admit it, but each of us needs protection from time to time. The hope is that we do have or are able to find someone here on Earth who will help protect us when we need it. But we should never ignore the protection that God can provide even if He’s in Heaven and we’re here on Earth and it doesn’t seem like any Heavenly protection can help, because He is able to do more than we could ever imagine, and He’s able to put someone in our path to protect us. How has God protected you when you’ve needed protection?

Reality Reflection: Seeing our Freedoms

This weekend and specifically on Monday in the US we’re celebrating Memorial Day. This month has been an interesting adventure for myself, my partner and my family, and even though there have been lots of challenges and changes, many of them have reminded me exactly how grateful I am of all the freedom I have in my life to make the choices that I make. As limited as we are in some of our choices, like having to work and sometimes having to accept where we live because we can’t afford anything bigger/better/elsewhere, usually there’s still choices to be made and thankfully we’ve got more than one option to consider.

We’ve talked about how capable we each are, that we’re often able to do things we didn’t think we could, and it is true that we could do a lot of different jobs or live a lot of different places if that was our only option. During WW2 and some other wars many people were asked to work different jobs (or work instead of being at home) to pick up the slack for those who were off fighting or to help create the products that were needed for the war. So yes, we’re all capable of doing many jobs, but that doesn’t mean we like to do them or we’re best qualified for them or we feel the best about ourselves and our contributions when we’re doing them. So in many ways freedom is about having the ability to choose the contribution you are making in the world.

But we have so many more freedoms to be thankful for, like being able to choose who our significant other is, being able to watch thousands of TV shows and movies, being able to travel to most parts of the world, being able to choose what we eat, being able to choose our faith, being able to choose what we read, being able to choose what we do with our spare time, being able to choose if we’ll raise children (whether we’re able to have them naturally or adopt them), and being able to choose what we wear, just to name a few. And this weekend we’re remembering and being thankful for the freedom to live without constant threat of war thanks to the men and women who put their lives on the line for us.

When faced with all the challenges, changes and responsibilities in our lives, we sometimes forget that behind them are really decisions we’ve made in the freedom to make decisions. What freedoms are you thankful for?

Just Take the First Step

The past couple of weeks I’ve been working with some new clients, both business and organizing clients, and what frequently comes up is the topic of overwhelm. I totally understand because it can be really easy to see all of the things that aren’t working, or to know all of the things you’re supposed to do, and to either not have the time to tackle them because you’ve got other things that take higher priority or you just don’t know where to start anymore because it’s so much. Sometimes that overwhelm becomes a distraction all by itself and almost becomes an item on your to-do list because you’re trying to manage all the other stuff and yet the overwhelm keeps poking you and reminding you about what you haven’t done yet.

Which is where one of the biggest truths in the world comes from: the first step is the hardest and most important. So if I’m doing organizing or I’m writing up a marketing plan or doing some other type of work or analysis for a client, I rarely go with just my first round or first draft. It’s called a first round/draft/try for a reason, after all. So while your first try or first round or first effort doesn’t have to be perfect, what matters most is that you get out there and do something.

Overwhelm doesn’t go away because you’ve done one closet or made a social post or updated the pictures on your website or made an appointment to talk with your counselor or coach, but it’s a lot easier to accept and process when you see that some progress is being made. Progress doesn’t have to equal perfection, and perfection should never be the goal because almost everything is always a work in progress.

So go ahead and take the first step. Empty out a closet and donate/throw out stuff from it even if you don’t have time to fully organize it. Schedule social posts, create a social ad, engage with some other companies and people, even if your efforts amount to just 30 minutes a week, that’s better than putting it off or not doing it at all. Update your Home page on your website, even if you don’t have time or content to update everything else. Buy a fruit or vegetable for snack times or cook one healthier-than-normal meal this week, even if you aren’t ready or interested in eating like an athlete. Book a single session with a coach or counselor, don’t feel like you have to commit to months or years of working with that one person. Take a walk around the block once a week even if you’re not ready to get a gym membership or commit to a rigorous workout schedule. Take a free online intro course to the topic that you’re considering going back to school on to see if further education is right for you right now.

What matters is that you take the first step (and it has to be one of action, not just planning). What step will you take today?

Rest and Peace

This week I’ve been reading through the story of Job. It’s an interesting and in-depth look at one man who knows God and loves God, and what happens when his life doesn’t go as it always has. Most of the book is spent on monologues and discussions between Job and his friends, and God and Job. As you read the words, you really feel like you’re right there with Job struggling and sorrowful and initially unable to comprehend what turn your life has taken. And then you’re there directly hearing from God, something that doesn’t happen in this great detail and length too often, and it’s both humbling and exciting. Thankfully, Job’s experience isn’t a lasting one (although I believe his faith would have gotten him through if it did last longer), and his life turns back around and he’s blessed once more after this period of testing.

So as often happens when we go through periods of challenge, Job didn’t experience rest or peace during the bulk of the story. When you’re fighting and being challenged as Job was, often that’s the first thing to go because your mind races, your heart pounds, your stress levels are up and you keep moving trying to stay above water (figurative or literal). I’m sure Job never forgot this experience or the sons and daughters he lost as a result of this test, but he didn’t let it hold him back forever and he chose to move forward with his life with God’s blessing.

For many of us it’s been a trying almost year and a half since 2020, some of us don’t feel we’ve gotten rest or are just starting to be able to rest and find some peace again, although it’s a tentative peace. We’ve also got Memorial Day coming up on Monday, honoring and remembering the men and women who died fighting for our country. Sadly many veterans continue to fight battles even when they’re home and not at war, not finding rest or peace because the rest of us don’t always understand or choose to address the needs they have as a result of standing up for the rest of us.

Job wasn’t alone in his struggles, he had both his friends and God there with him. Since 2020 as a world we’ve been reminded how important it is to be there for each other, something I hope continues as we move into whatever comes next. While there are 3 days throughout the year that remind us of our veterans and the families of those who lost loved ones who were fighting, 3 days of 365 isn’t good enough and we all need to do better as a nation for the men and women and their families who are part of our military past and present.

I encourage you to pay more attention to both your needs for rest and support as well as the needs of others both around you and in our nation. Help when you can and ask for help when you need it.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.” Psalm 23:1-3

Reality Reflection: Life is Better with Love

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” Rumi

I read this quote today after a week that was challenging in some ways, concerning in others, successful in others, sad in others, and hope-filled in others. We don’t get to live perfect “frolic through the flowers” lives. Our lives come with ups and downs, high points and low points, struggles and successes, meetings and partings, victories and failures, people we love and people we don’t understand. Some days, minutes, hours, weeks, months and years are easier to work through than others. And I think that’s part of what we’re here to do, learn and experience all of life.

But so much of living a satisfying life that you’re proud to look back on has to do with choosing and living with love, being yourself, loving yourself, looking for the good, caring about what is truly important, caring about and helping others, spending more time on the good things in life than focused on those raising your stress level, and giving your best effort to everything and every relationship.

We’ve seen plenty of examples of people who don’t live that way in recent years, who are more concerned about their public image or racist beliefs, who don’t want to be responsible for their actions or accept that some actions have consequences, who choose to toe the line instead of doing the right thing or saying something, who are able to through the internet that connects us find other people who will go down the rabbit hole with them and cause problems for people who are innocently living their lives.

But this past week has been a reminder that there have been and are still some good people in the world, people who make the world better just by being alive, by laughing, by having a kind word for everyone, by being willing to help, and by caring for both people and animals. We don’t know how we’ll live all our days; all of the challenges, opportunities, blessings and special moments we’ll have; or how many days we get to live. But at the end of the day if I’ve tried to love a little more and focus more on the beauty that is to be found in the world, even the days that are hard and the losses add up aren’t quite as hard as they are when the struggle is all I see or I let the struggle get to me and win.

Victories through Doubts and Struggles

We all have doubts and sometimes we struggle with about many different aspects of our lives including our work. Especially since we reached 2020 we’ve all been doing some soul searching about so much in our lives, but especially about the work we do and how we’re spending our time. If you’ve been following the news on careers, you’ve probably heard both sides of the story that some people are more productive and have less issues because of how work has changed since 2020, and then there are other people who have more or different work issues (some aren’t working or are hardly working), and since as adults we spend so much of our adult lives working, it’s a good conversation to have, and something we should probably think about more often.

Which is where the thought about doubts and struggles comes in. In one way they’re an indication that we need to stop and take a good look at what we’re doing or not doing. Maybe we’ve gotten put or stuck or limited in the work we do and we’ve forgotten or hidden the passion we have for other aspects. For a time or season it’s OK to be doing or focused on only one thing, but we’re not robots and it’s a great way to get burned out. Our doubts and struggles are also an indication that we’re overwhelmed and either need a break or something has to change. We’re very capable people, but we can only do so much for so long before we need help or need to do something different. And our doubts and struggles are also a sign that we need a change of pace or a fresh perspective. Maybe that means working on a different project/file or with a different client. Why? Because it can remind you why you like doing what you do, that you are good at what you do, and that you can make a difference for people even if it seems like you haven’t been making a dent and are blocked or stuck in one area/on one project.

Once you’ve accepted that you’re struggling and you’ve taken a break and tried something different, then hopefully you’ll discover what the doubts are trying to teach you. Every victory journey has highs and lows, it’s not good to dismiss the lows or consider them as just something to get through as fast as you can, take the time to understand what they’re teaching you and learn from them. I’ve said before how thankful I am that mental health is something that’s talked about in the public eye more frequently now and with a greater degree of acceptance and openness. Don’t be discouraged by the struggles and the doubts, take them as the indication and sign that they are that something needs to be paid attention to, and know that once you’ve addressed those questions you’ll feel better about yourself and what you’re working on and have another victory under your belt.