Living a Social Life

I believe that our relationships are the best and most challenging part of life. It’s such a gift to live in 2015 and have all of the technology that we do that connects us to practically anyone anywhere. Bringing people together is one of my biggest missions as a coach and business owner, whether parents and kids, partners, or businesses and customers. It’s when we come together that the magic happens.

One of those bits of magic is social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. These 4 sites and those similar have given us the ability to connect, discuss, share and contribute to lives around the globe. Other sites like YouTube and Pinterest are great too, but they don’t encourage the conversation on the level of the first 4. The ability to connect with and see the lives of my friends and family that don’t live within reasonable driving distance is such a gift. Yes, lots of us have gotten sucked into the addiction of posting selfies or sharing stuff that’s not really uplifting to share, but there’s a lot more good and a lot more potential than bad.

It’s a good reminder for our lives too: things can get taken out of context, go out of control and get taken over for not so honorable purposes without our say-so or willing participation. When this happens it’s up to us to choose to be the bigger person, to remember who we are and what we stand for, and to remember that there’s a good possibility that karma exists and will bite us in the butt if we go down the wrong road. Until Jesus comes back there will always be someone who’s not concerned about the little guy, someone who is evil, someone who is lazy, and those who don’t care who gets plowed over in their pursuit of their goals.

When we are willing to remember the bigger picture, work toward the bigger goal and accept that win-win-win situations work out better for everyone in the long run we’ve got a chance of making the world a better place for our families and the next generation.

“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected.” Mark Zuckerberg

The Start of Summer

We’re heading into the summer, my favorite season. I love the heat, the late sunsets, the bright sunshine and better moods that everyone seems to be in. Summer is a great time to be with family and friends, to enjoy the fruits of nature and get out and live a more active life. So today I thought I’d share about my 3 goals for this summer.

1-Eat local. Eating local is about more than just supporting local farm businesses, it’s about not eating junk, about being more conscious about what you eat and being more involved in food preparation too. Most people have more time in the summer and schedules are less busy, so it’s a great time to try new recipes and get the whole family involved in making dinner every night for starters.

2-spend more time outdoors. Go for a hike, join a swim club, enjoy your evening alcoholic beverage on the deck or front steps, take a walk after dinner, plant a garden, have a catch or go fishing. Nature is something that is essential to our health but we don’t get enough of it. We may not really notice that we’re lacking in vitamin n(ature), but most of us are. It’s amazing how different and good you can feel after being outside in the wide open spaces.

3-spend time with friends and family. Summer is a great time to attend outdoor concerts, sporting events, go on picnics, and plan group events because the weather is better and more people are free. This is a great time to have fun and build the relationships for the times of need and stress, and celebrate being alive with each other.

If you’re feeling stressed out and at the end of your rope there’s a good chance that things need to change in your life, that you’re not spending enough time with friends, or eating right or in nature. Take advantage of the blessing that is summer.

“Family, nature and health all go together.” Olivia Newton-John

The Legacy of Memory

Today in the USA is Memorial Day, a time for us to remember the soldiers who died while fighting for our freedom. People have been dying in battle for thousands of years for hundreds of countries and kings, this isn’t something new. Nor is it new to honor our dead, that’s also something that has been done for years through the graveyards and memorials, not to mention naming babies. For the people who have passed while fighting they don’t have much say on how they go out of the world, on the people they see last, things they do last, and their last wishes.  Most of us don’t have a whole lot of choice in it, yes we can say that we don’t want to be kept on life support, and our life choices like smoking, drinking and reckless driving can have an impact on how or how soon we die, but that final moment is usually out of our control.

But what about our last message? A few years ago the book “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch was huge. It’s about the professor’s last lecture before he passed away with pancreatic cancer, encouraging students to really think about what their future holds. And it’s about what he thought would be his last chance to really give the world a message.

The memories we have of others are often all we have of them, and for friends of Jesus it was the same. They only had what they could remember of Him and the stories they wrote down. No one sticks around forever, but we do have a choice in the legacy we leave.

While you’re out celebrating Memorial Day with BBQ’s, picnics, parades, family and friends take time to think about how people will remember you and what legacy you’ll leave on this planet. If you were to die today would people remember you for the difference you made in the world, for the great times you had together and for your faith? Would they remember how miserable, lazy and hurtful you were? Or would they not even remember you at all?

Choose to be a good memory, to leave a positive impression on the world, and make it a better place for the next generation.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

The Story of You

This month we celebrated Mother’s Day, we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, next month we celebrate Father’s Day and the theme of this month is family. That’s a lot of family! So often we think about family as our parents, siblings, partner and children, and maybe we add in grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins too. But we often forget that there’s lots of family that came before that, even if we don’t know who they are because we’re adopted and can’t trace our history through or another site. In many ways technology has encouraged us to be more personal and relational and get to know each other better but in others it’s allowed us to be less personal, almost anonymous. I shared about social media on Wednesday on the Business and Family blog, and one thing I shared about was that it’s a social network, a place where people connect with other people. I believe that one of the worst things that can happen in the world is that we forget that we’re surrounded by other people, not by computers, robots, or emotionless beings, but by humans that, like us, have feelings, dreams, desires, goals and value.

Today though I want to talk about the people who came before. I was blessed to grow up hearing stories about the relatives who passed on before I was born, and I’ve built friendships with some awesome senior citizens and get to hear their stories now too. I love a good story, whether we’re talking a romance or the real life of a historical American General’s wife, because it reminds me that each of us have a story, more than the facts that can be presented about our lives, like our birth and death dates, the battles we fought or jobs we conquered, people we married and divorced, and other information that can be put into an impersonal list. None of us got here without two someones coming before us, even now with the advances of modern medicine that’s still a requirement. Just like you and I have our own stories, so do they.

So this weekend my challenge to you is two fold: first, when you’re at the family party this weekend celebrating Memorial Day, talk with your family about the relatives who are part of your history and have come before you. Second, find out the story of a soldier, either someone in your family, your town, or contact your local VA or historical society and learn about the men and women who have fought for the country.

“It’s very strange that most people don’t care if their knowledge of their family history only goes back three generations.” Douglas Coupland

Make Love Not War

This coming weekend we’re celebrating Memorial Day here in the USA, and I’ll be sharing more about that on Friday, but today I wanted to talk about how we make our contributions to the world. Obviously with Memorial Day coming up we’re thinking about people who go to parts of the world on planes and ships and travel through dangerous regions to fight wars and people who are doing evil in the world. We won’t all agree on whether to go to war or not, whether we started the fight or not, but some of us feel that our differences need to be worked out using weapons and violence rather than discussion and teamwork. There are few situations that I unanimously support a violent approach, typically when dealing with someone truly evil like Hitler or situations of domestic and genocide type violence.  All those people know are how to be violent, they won’t respond to talks.

However, I do believe that countless more situations can and should be worked out through words and negotiations rather than fists and guns. When destruction becomes the initial goal there’s always recovery, rebuilding and reconstruction that will have to be done, much of which wasn’t necessary destruction in the first place.

So what’s the answer? First, get better at our communication skills. “You suck,” “I hate you,” tears, yelling and bullying aren’t good communication methods or skills but most of us use them. Second, learn the art of negotiation. Everyone wants something, and most times there’s a way for everyone to be mostly satisfied if a little effort is put into it. Third, think win-win-win. This means that the goal of any meeting should be to get the most wins for the most people involved possible, for the most people to be helped by what you’re doing and working towards rather than hurt. It’s unrealistic to imagine that no one ever will get hurt or get the short end of the stick, but I believe that more often than not we can do a lot more to create satisfactory solutions than we do.

What area of your life do you need to work on most when it comes to getting your goals accomplished in a way that helps rather than hurts?

“I definitely prefer being a lover than a fighter.”  Billy Joel

The Purpose of Jesus’ Ascension

This past week the Church recognized Ascension Day, the day when Jesus went to Heaven as described in Acts 1. I can’t imagine what it was like for them to watch Jesus rise into the sky!  We’re not quite at jet pack technology for everyone, but we see it in movies, so we have some idea what it looked like, but to think about it happening in real life, let alone to someone we actually knew, and then to find out that they weren’t coming back?!  It was a big change for the Apostles and I’m sure they questioned why Jesus would only come to visit and then leave, so today I want to briefly address those two topics.

Let’s talk first about change.  Change is part of our lives like death and taxes.  Something is always changing whether it’s the rising and setting of the sun or the seasons or how the world around us works.  Some people thrive on change, but many are resistant because they’ve had bad experiences in the past or can’t imagine that the change could be a good thing.  The best thing to do is accept change as fact and part of our reality, as this will give us the attitude and openness to deal with the changes that come our way.  Change can be scary, but when we’re busy making lists of things that excite us about the change rather than our fears, change becomes an opportunity rather than problem.

The second part of the Ascension is the fact that Jesus left.  Everyone focuses on this when the incredible thing is actually that He came in the first place at all.  For 30 years Jesus was on the Earth, that’s a very small part of the thousands of years the earth has existed, which means the chances of you being born when Jesus was not on Earth are much better than those that you were.  So what does Jesus’ life and Ascension teach us?  First, that He existed.  There are lots of testimonials of people who say Jesus was here.  It’s an important touchpoint for us when we doubt that God exists somewhere somehow up there; that there’s an actual person/being we can believe in that people have seen and interacted with.  Second, it says that Jesus’ work on Earth wasn’t the whole point of His visit.  If Jesus came to Earth to do lots of great stuff, you would think He would stick around longer, maybe following early Biblical life terms of 600+ years.

So where does that leave us today?  It leaves us with the knowledge that Jesus exists, that He left us because He trusts us to continue His work, and that He is present with us today in spirit like He was before He spent 30 odd years on Earth.  For whatever reason God decided that the time of Jesus’ Ascension was not to be the end of the world, but would be some undetermined 2000+ years in the future.  Jesus’ Ascension wasn’t the end of the story, there’s still time for a reason, a reason that each of us are part of because we each have something to contribute to the world.  Jesus may have gone but you are still here, do you know your purpose?

Loving our Differences

I’m truly amazed every time I look around me and see how similar yet different we all are. It amazes me that God can create each of us from a similar mold yet we’re so different. I’ve shared many times about embracing our differences and letting them be the tools that finally free the world from the struggles faces. I do believe that the only reason we have many of the problems we hear about in the news each day is because we’re not tapping into each other’s different capabilities, only our similarities along with our fear of change and hard work.

One of the challenges about being different I share about on the Family and Business blog today, about seeing beyond the label(s) that we’re given by society. We can get so wrapped up in that label that we forget that we’re more than that, and that even in that label we are powerful and capable. Just because it’s a label doesn’t mean it’s wrong or bad. But we tend to get offended when we’re given a label simply because it is a label and someone is commenting on us.

The first challenge about being different that we have to get to is accepting ourselves. If we can’t accept ourselves or choose to not accept ourselves because we don’t like the label we’ve been given or the difference we bring to the world it’s our responsibility to remove what we don’t like and create what we do like. If you don’t like being a “blonde” change your hair to brunette or red. If you don’t like being known as a “soccer mom” spend time doing other things during the day that do fulfill you. If you don’t like being known as a tech geek get involved with some sports, arts or other physical or outdoor activities.

I love me because I am who I am. I love me because I’ve got more life ahead of me to discover more about myself, more time to see how I fit into the world and more time to make a bigger contribution. I love me because I can do whatever I want with my life if I’m willing to put in the effort to make it happen. What do you love about you?

“I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically – I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and to make something out of it.”  Stevie Wonder

What Did You Learn Today?

There’s been a big debate around the US about student loans lately. I’ve got student loans, so do most of the people my age. If you’ve been to college there’s a good chance that you have or had student loans to pay off. Some people have made the argument for free college and are trying to get student loan debt deleted. Whether you fall on the side of free education for all or the side of requiring students to pay to learn the bottom line is the same: education matters. Thanks to the internet we’re able to access education no matter our physical location or abilities, anyone anywhere in the world with access to the internet can get an education.

Educations matter because more education and more knowledge opens the door to more opportunities. If all you know is how to care for dogs you can’t go become an accountant or create websites for a living, first you would have to learn about those things. A simple way of looking at it is what mom used to say at the table: if you don’t try it how will you know if you do/don’t like it? The same applies to life: you’re stuck where you are unless you don’t learn about it or explore it.

If you want a better future, if you want more victories in your future, if you want a better future for your children and nieces and nephews, you’re going to have to leave your little bubble and start exploring and learning. A better future wont’ be created by accident, but only by intentional actions, lessons, failures and conversations.

Challenge yourself to learn something new each day. I’m not just talking about reading a Snapple cap, I’m talking about reading a chapter from a book or listening to a TED talk. Take advantage of learning opportunities when they come your way, and pursue them on your own time too.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X

An Encouragement for Freedom

This month we’re talking about families, and I know as well as you do that family can be some of the most challenging, constricting, limiting, frustrating experiences! So today I want to share 7 encouraging verses to reflect on this week. check out the passages, talk them over with your family, share them with friends and spend some time working with God on releasing yourself from all that entangles you and discover the freedom God wants for you.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1

What verses encourage you?

Learning Success

Today I want to talk about one of the qualities that makes people successful. No, it’s not good looks or lots of money (although those seem to help). It’s the willingness to keep learning. Why is that so powerful? Because when you accept that you don’t know everything about everything and everyone, instead of being limited by the little you know, you gain the ability to be wrong, to become better, to create relationships and to connect to the abundant and ever changing world around us. Even when everyone is telling you you’re at the top of your game you’ve got the ability to grow and become more.

It’s important to be open to learning because of one of the things I just mentioned: because the world does keep changing. There’s very little that doesn’t, despite how much we might try to hold things at a standstill. So rather than hold the world back in old rules and ways that no longer support us, I believe in moving forward and learning how to live in a way that serves us all better. Ways that are as progressive and open as our technology and connected world.

Family is one of the greatest learning opportunities there is because they will question you or call you out if you make a mistake, but still love you and support you in your growth journey. It’s supposed to be a healthy atmosphere and opportunity for us to feel safe making mistakes and exploring the world, and kids are one of the best excuses we have. We can say that we’re going to the museum for them or the circus because they asked us to, but they are great opportunities for us to learn too.

Life is a journey. We aren’t born knowing everything and everyone, we’re born to make mistakes and learn lessons until we die, and some believe we’re still learning lessons after that. So take time to celebrate what you have learned this week and then get out there and learn something new!

“I still look at myself and want to improve.”  David Beckham