Missing Out on Communication

I’m back to a topic that alternately frustrates and excites me: communication.  This week I dealt with several non-responsive clients.  These are people who have already put money on the table to work with me and yet can’t be bothered to respond to my multiple communications with them over the course of several days. It results in a very frustrating experience for me, and they’re missing out on all they initially believed I could help them with by not responding. It boggles my mind to think that people pay good money for goods and services yet they don’t actually seem to care that they bought it. It’s like going out to the store, buying bananas and just putting them on the counter to turn brown because you think they look nice sitting there, meanwhile ignoring the facts that you’ll soon have fruit flies, you’re wasting money and (the big one) you’re actually allergic to bananas. Yet many people do this every day, and not just in the course of purchasing things.

My partner and I have a great relationship. It’s taken a lot of communication, time and effort to get there, but we’ve made it work. One of the things we’ve realized is important for us to do is to communicate if we’re not going to be reachable for a while. For example I have one client who doesn’t have good cell service at their location so I remind my partner each time I go there that I won’t be reachable for several hours (I’ve also learned that he forgets that I’ve told him and calls anyway, but that’s another story). But there were times when we would get frustrated because the other person wasn’t responding to texts and calls only to find out there was a nap going on or a phone was left in the car.

If we just take the extra 30 seconds to communicate an answer life would be so much less frustrating and we’d miss out on fewer awesome opportunities. No, you don’t have to have an immediate response to someone, that’s what society wants you to think with the fast food and super-speed internet. A response within a reasonable period of time or a heads up if that’s not going to be possible is all that’s necessary. I encourage you to be more attentive to your communications, and the people who matter to you.

A Life of Mindfulness

One of the things I enjoy about Lent is how it encourages us to really be mindful about our lives and what goes on in them, where we go, what we say, how we live, the choices we make. People talk about the importance of taking time to meditate, and I certainly believe that quiet time can help you work thoughts or problems out or just help to find a little peace in all the chaos of life today. But some people struggle to find time to meditate and some struggle with the concept of sitting and being still and quiet. Which is where being mindful comes in.

Being mindful means that you’re attentive and aware according to the dictionary. Mindfulness is an opportunity for anyone to be more present in the moment, to be more conscious about what’s going on around them and what they’re doing and how they’re treating others, to think more before speaking or acting, and to be more appreciative both to the universe/God and others.

While most of us have (many) more tomorrows in front of us all we’re promised is the moment we’re living now. Being mindful can help you enjoy today and all yoru days more thoroughly, to make better decisions that will serve you both presently and in the future, to invest in the relationships that add the most value to your life, and make decisions that will positively impact the people and world around you. It can also help you be more even tempered and more at peace even with the chaos of the world and all the commitments we take on.

If “right now counts forever” as Dr. R.C. Sproul said, what are you doing with your right now? Is it something that you want to look back on forever? Will it help you build a better tomorrow? Are you working for more peace in your life and the world? What are you doing with your day today?

Spring to Life

Today I am thinking spring. I’m thinking all things that come along with spring, from clearing out the clutter and cobwebs of winter to bursts of life to warmer weather and being more active. As I was reading through my Lent devotions for this week and the other regular devotions a couple of verses caught my attention:

Spring will have some dark days:
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4a

Spring is a time to be refreshed:
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” John 4:13-14 NIV

Spring is a time for thrive:
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Spring is a time to celebrate:
“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Spring is a time to search for God (and find Him):
“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!”” Psalm 70:4

This spring can be whatever you make it out to be. It’s totally up to you. My hope is that you would take inspiration from spring slowly (or quickly) coming to life and you would do a little spring cleaning on your life so that you get rid of the things that are holding you back or down so that you can celebrate, thrive and grow into the person God has created you to be for this season in your life.

Reality Reflection: A Question of Value

Each time I sit down to write a blog post and try to come up with a topic I have to ask myself if it’s something valuable to you. Sure I could write about tons of things, but would you really find value in the book I recently read, something my partner said or something I saw? Sometimes the answer is yes, and I share with you. Other times the answer is no and I have to keep thinking about what to write.

But blog posts aren’t the only place that we question value, it happens many days at work, or with our significant others, or with our kids or parents. Sometimes we do make mistakes and it makes us question what we’re good for, sometimes it feels like all we’re doing is busy work anyone could do and it makes us doubt that we have anything unique we bring to the table.

I think we sometimes forget that value can be added or created in many different ways, including ways that can’t be measured like we often want to. There isn’t always a tangible or numerical answer to the value that you’re creating. It can be frustrating to do the same thing several times because your boss loses stuff, hear the same argument from your significant other because they refuse to see things in another way, or have to take on the same stuff for your family each week without anyone else really being willing to contribute. But in all of those things and countless other ways, you are adding value to the world.

This week I encourage you to check in with yourself before you do something to make sure that you are adding value, or how you could better add value, or if something should be dropped from the commitments of your life. Yes there will always be things that seem pointless in your life, we can’t typically get rid of all of that stuff, but we can do a better job recognizing and celebrating the good work we do, as well as making better decisions about how best to spend our time and resources. How will you add value to the world this week?

Personal (Purim) Victories

Today the Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. Purim is an interesting spiritual celebration, because it’s one of the few that the story behind it crosses more than the usual spiritual lines (to all who read the Old Testament in the Bible). In case you forget, it’s the story of Esther, and how she becomes queen and is able to plead to the king to save her life and the life of her people (the Jews). If you haven’t read it [lately], I’d encourage you to check it out here.

Before you head off because you think this might be a spiritual post, no, I’m not actually planning to talk about Purim or the story of Esther. Because while it is a faith-based story, the story is one that many of us can identify with and is really a hero/heroine story that countless people read each day. One with true love, respect, victory, the defeat of a villain, and a happily ever after. It’s also a rags to riches story, and one that shows more bravery in a few short chapters than most of us will ever show in our entire lives.

So if this isn’t a spiritual post, what is it? It’s a reminder to myself and you that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can get lucky. Anyone can totally transform their life from the bottom to a much better life. Anyone can find the courage to do the right thing. Anyone can make the world a better place. Anyone can be a leader. Anyone can work to create a happy ending.

If the future is that bright, why are people struggling? Some struggle because they don’t find the courage to try. Some refuse the help others are offering. Some get paralyzed by all the options and can’t pick one. Some don’t believe in themselves. Some don’t get out there and look for answers or do the work to get there.

What about you? How does your future look and what are you doing to make it better?

Ready for Blessings

Lent is a time for reflection, both on our relationship with God and on how we’re living our lives, and often that opens up to some very sobering realizations. But as I was reading one of the Lent devotionals I’ve subscribed to, they shared a passage and a perspective that got me thinking. The passage they shared was one of the many about the story of Abraham, or at the time he was known as Abram. The passage from Genesis 12 shares God’s promise to Abram, that God was giving Abram and his descendents the land of the Canaanites.

Abram/Abraham went through many tests and trials in his lifetime, he wasn’t perfect and made some cringe-worthy decisions and mistakes. But he was one of the few who had a very up close and personal relationship with God, and God gave him some of the biggest blessings anyone in the Bible got, including the blessing in Genesis 12, of lots of land.

Maybe the realization that you’re coming to in this time of reflection and evaluation, is that you’re not asking God for the blessings, especially the big ones, or expecting that God can send blessings your way. It’s not about being stuck in the challenges of this life, but about believing that even when life is challenging God is still sending blessings your way daily, including big ones. Maybe it’s time to remember that after these 40 days of searching and humility and the death of Jesus we get to the celebration of Easter and Jesus’ resurrection, which is a gift and promise of eternal life to all who believe.  I’m ready for some blessings, what about you?

Reality Reflection: Celebrating Each Other

I’m not a competitive person, I like when everyone wins, or at least many people win. But I know that’s not how life works, and sometimes someone has to be on top. Such is the case for award shows, someone has to be named the top artist/person or category winner. From a music awards perspective, as you may know there are almost too many artists to count out there who share decent music, and many of that list also share great music. So I find it a bit more than frustrating when one artist’s name comes up frequently in one award ceremony [list]. I mean I can appreciate the fact that someone is doing an excellent job at something, or they’re really hot right now, but what about all the other people who are doing great things? Why can’t their work be celebrated as well?

What if we were to make it a rule that you can’t win more than one thing at an award ceremony? That no one group or artist or person or organization is able to sweep a category or even the show. It would certainly make the ceremony more interesting and I might be even a little interested to watch, it would also be more interesting for the people who attend, and more people would see their work celebrated and honored.

Few people make it to the national or world stage of any kind, most of us are just living out our lives trying to make a difference in whatever way we can, to share our talents with the world whether it’s a small audience of 10 or larger audience of hundreds or thousands. But I believe everyone should be celebrated, because everyone can contribute in one way or another. What better way to combat the hate and anger in the world than by recognizing the good other people are doing? Who will you celebrate today?

Time to Save Time

This week we’re a little more sensitive about the topic of time because Daylight Savings time happened on Sunday, which means we lost an hour. I enjoy the extended daylight we’ve got now but as for everything else, I’m not a fan. It’s just confusing and extra work and even though we don’t have to as much work as we used to because most of our devices update themselves, it doesn’t mean our bodies are able to make the adjustment as easily.

Whether or not you care about the time change or if we’ll ever be able to get rid of it or not, time is a topic that’s often on our minds. So today I thought I’d share a few tips on managing your time and making the most of the time you do have.

Schedules: I love freedom as much as the next person, and as important as it is to be flexible, having a schedule can really help keep you on track and help you get stuff done. This is especially true when it comes to social media and email checking. For email, it’s rare that whatever message comes through is important enough to need to be dealt with immediately, more likely it’s something that can wait until your next scheduled check in. As far as social media, it’s impossible to keep up with everything that is shared or going on even if you were on social all day every day, there’s just too much happening, so it doesn’t make sense to push yourself into over checking.

Learn to say no: I get it, we don’t really like the guilt trip we sometimes get when we say no to someone or something, and sometimes we feel that we can’t say no. But when you don’t say no it may mean that you don’t really respect yourself and your time, you don’t really understand how long things take (or care), you don’t always commit to giving your best effort to each activity or person, or you feel you have to be in charge of everything. Saying no means you respect your time, other’s time, and are committed to giving your best to yourself and your family.

Purge: I like my stuff and my information as much as the next person, but there’s something satisfying about being able to get rid of something you don’t need or use anymore or doesn’t work. The same holds true for the emails we’re subscribed to and all other subscriptions we have (audio, music, TV, movies, boxes etc.). There’s no reason to pay for something or get updates about something if you’re really not using it and aren’t going to be in the future, and if you need it in the future you can always resubscribe.

Time is one of the most limited resources we each have, I encourage you to treat your time with respect and make the decisions that will help you get the most out of it.

Getting through Lent with Grace

We’re a week into our journey of Lent for this year and I’m working through a couple of different Lent devotionals. I’ve been enjoying them because they each bring a different perspective to this journey that we’re on and to spiritual life as well. One of the things I struggle with regarding Lent may be something that you struggle with as well, and that’s the continual focus on our sins. I know it’s important to recognize our sins, to ask for forgiveness of them and to make changes in our lives based on not living those sins, but it’s not exactly encouraging to talk about our failings all the time.

Maybe it’s my fault because I’m immersing myself in Lent and not just reading one devotional each day, since it gives me a lot more exposure to the topic of Lent and those that go along with it like looking at your failings. On the other side of the story sometimes it’s good for us to really take a solid look at all aspects of our lives. About how we treat people, how we use our resources, how we treat ourselves, how we think, how we worship, how we go through our day-to-day lives. Taking 40 days out of 365 to make sure we’re leading lives God would be proud of isn’t so bad.

Since we’re human we know we’re going to mess up as we go through life, it’s a consistent messing up-seeking forgiveness-healing cycle. The reason we can do the solid 40 days of Lent and reflecting on our imperfections is because we know that after doing the hard work there will be a great reward, and that’s the celebration of Easter and the promise of God’s eternal love. Whether this Lent journey speaks to you and invites you to take time for reflection more frequently throughout the whole year, or you just take this time to experience God’s grace and love, I encourage you to be open to whatever God will be showing you.

“Lent is a time for us to take an honest look at ourselves and receive the grace of Jesus’ healing love.” Loyola Press

Reality Reflection: Courage

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. You may have seen stories featuring women, the Google doodle celebrated women, you probably saw posts on social media and read emails celebrating and honoring women as well. I wasn’t sure I was going to write a post about International Women’s Day, or even what I would write about until I got an unrelated email today that really spoke to me. The topic of the email was on one of those simple-but-complicated topics: courage.

If I’m honest I think it takes courage for anyone to really live in this day and age. As much as many parts of the world have really started to embrace the many differences each of us have, there are still people who have very narrow opinions and beliefs of the world and the people in it and how we’re supposed to live. Unfortunately many of those people seem to be very vocal about what’s right and wrong in their opinion and make the world dangerous for people to live in. As a result it takes courage to reach for and try to live with the freedom that is a right and desire that we all have. Living with freedom isn’t about not having rules, they help us keep order and give us some guidance on sharing space together, just about learning to accept, change and adapt as our world changes.

Back to the topic of courage, it’s about making life about more than us vs. them, it’s about learning to make life as win-win-win as possible, it’s about learning who you are, it’s about making decisions to do right in the world, it’s about being confident in the difference you can make in the world. It’s also about having some measure of faith in the others that we share the world with, that there are enough of us trying to do the right thing that we will outpace and outlive those who live to hurt others.

The good news is there’s no rule about when you’re allowed to choose courage, when you have to change, or what courage looks like to you. Courage is about being brave enough to face the world as you are, ask for help when you need it, and accept others as they are-a work in progress (just like you). Today I would encourage you to live with courage, treat others with courage, make decisions with courage, celebrate the women you know who have lived with courage, and celebrate the women whose courage have helped us get to where we are now. Who are the courageous women you’re celebrating?