Reality Reflection: I Choose the Future

The other day I read a great quote that we can all learn from, regardless of what challenges we’re facing or what’s going on in our lives:

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” Lyndon B Johnson

I believe that all days are important: yesterday, today and tomorrow. I’ve learned a lot from my yesterdays as well as the yesterdays of many people in my life and throughout history. I’ve tried to improve on some of my yesterdays because I know I’ve screwed up and know the best thing for my future is to try to fix those things or do better next time. But some things from yesterday (or however many days before that) should be left there and not revisited. I don’t need to revisit the men I’ve previously dated, I don’t need to revisit the colleges I’ve attended, I don’t need to eat again some of the things I’ve eaten, I don’t need to re-read some of the books I’ve read, and I don’t need to have some of the conversations I’ve had again.

I believe there comes a time that you either have to choose to keep apologizing for or living in the past, or you have to choose to live in today and tomorrow. You can’t truly erase the past, although in parts of history we’ve done a really good job of trying, and yet most things and people are able to live on, or at the very least their stories are. I would rather work on winning today and tomorrow than try to fix or change what already happened. Yes, apologies absolutely have a place and are necessary, and it’s important to be aware of the past so you can make necessary changes for the future. But the future should not always be based on or structured from the past. The future should be filled with new dreams and new directions and new relationships. Sometimes that future will compliment the past, sometimes it will take the past to a new level, but other times that future will be in a different direction from the past.

You’ve got a choice what you want to do with the rest of today, as well as all the tomorrows that are ahead of you. Some days you have to call it a wash, but most days are able to be improved upon in big and/or little ways, declared a win, or at the very least able to be completed satisfactorily. What choice will you make?

Navigating Confusion

The word that can describe much of our world right now is confusion. While we’re all experiencing an event that can create a lot of opportunities, connections, and community especially in the future but also now, there is so little known about it and how it will all unfold that it’s hard to get to the point of opportunity from the confusion. Many people haven’t experienced anything that has shaken their world to this extent, but as we’ve learned from past natural disasters, when our world is negatively impacted it can take weeks and even years to get people back to a version of normal. Not to mention how confusing or disorienting it is to spend tons of time with different people than we usually spend our days with and not see many/any others, to be doing a lot less than usual or a lot more than usual because you’re taking on work and parenting full time. Added into this challenge is that we don’t know when a true end will arrive (we can’t say easily that the fire is out or the storm is gone or the flooding has stopped), we’re being told that we could be dealing with this for months if not years before we get clarity and a conclusion. And that’s not to say that we won’t experience something similar in the future which is another layer added onto all of this.

But back to the topic of confusion. It’s easy to get stuck in the swirl of confusion, to listen to all the different voices sharing their different opinions and theories and possible plans. But plans aren’t easy to make right now (at least not plans of action) as opinions and theories seem to change more often than most people shower, which makes it even more confusing. So what can we do about this confusing time and what lessons can it teach us about making victories?

One of the biggest keys to successfully navigating this time with more rather than less sanity is to control what you can, to stay as active as you can, and to not dwell on the negative or the confusion. Do the laundry regularly, clean up the kitchen each day, run the vacuum regularly, spend time outside as regularly as possible, cook what makes you happy (and is healthy for you too), spend time doing hobbies that make you happy (like painting, drawing, exercising etc), read and watch shows that make you happy (I’m reading a book each day), stay on as much of a normal schedule as possible with work or personal growth things you do (I make time to read all my emails each day, blog regularly and send out my newsletters regularly), spend time talking with people you love, and limit your news checking (I check twice daily and that’s it) . These are all things you can control, simple victories you can make consistently even in this challenging and confusing time.

You may not be making your usual victories right now, but that doesn’t mean you should let confusion rule your life or that you shouldn’t try to make victories. Everyone is dealing with this challenge differently, so you will too. Don’t worry as much about what everyone else is doing or how they’re dealing with the confusion, do what works best to keep you strong, healthy, and happy.

Life Before and After

This morning I read some wise insights shared by Laura Scholes through Chip Conley’s Wisdom Well email series. I encourage you to read the whole post, but the essence of the post is talking about seeing life in before and after stages, especially when big changes happen to help with the processing and applying of lessons. These types of changes could include moving on from a job, transitioning to married or divorced life, building or selling a business, or experiencing something like most of us are experiencing with Covid-19.

While we never want to experience some things more than once in our lives (or at all), the likelihood that we’ll get sick or change jobs or that our world will experience something like this virus again is higher than most of us would like to admit. It’s not really smart to try to wish it away or pretend it didn’t happen when the world is able to return to a more normal life. Yes, we can and should put the past in the past, but only after using the lessons it has taught us to plan and prepare for the future, whatever it may hold.

Yes, we should have fond memories of what it was like when we could move about freely and with an innocence that we had most of the answers we thought we needed about health. We should remember how hopeful we were about this new year and decade. We should remember how much we loved spending time with others and how it felt to be part of an in-person community. We should also remember how horrible it felt to hear about the number of people sick and dying around the world from this virus. We should also remember how it felt if we had the virus or if someone we loved had it. We should remember how tough it was to be out of work or suddenly working from home.

So with those memories in mind, it’s up to each of us to use the precious time we have now to the fullest, and to do our very best to look out for the others that we share this world with. For most of us, it won’t be a huge hardship going forward once we get beyond this, we can simply work harder at keeping ourselves and our places clean and being considerate if we’re not feeling well to help avoid something similar in the future. It doesn’t mean no fun gatherings, just to be more conscious about each other in the future. The bigger changes should come with careers and businesses and non profits, who should be more proactive about planning for something like this in the future, both financially and with regard to other resources including employees and customers.

What future are you going to help build?

The Adventure of Endings

Over the past few years we’ve been seeing brands that we love close up shop. No brand is perfect, you won’t love everything about any brand, but it’s likely that there’s at least one thing, if not many things that you’ll miss when that brand ends. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a cherished brand that you’ve loved for years, but that’s a choice we all have to make at times, that endings are part of our lives. Sometimes we choose an ending because it’s past time and not only is there no going back, we don’t want to go back. Other times we choose an ending because we want to end on a high note and have some good memories left and not drive the brand into the ground. Other times, endings happen because even if we’re not ready to give things up, other people have made it clear that they’re done and don’t give us a choice.

If an ending has to happen, in some ways it’s a lot like facing death and going through the stages of grief. You’ll have some time of denial, possibly some time of rage, some grief, and hopefully you’ll get to the point of accepting the end and maybe even being able to remember the good parts and not feel the loss so sharply. There’s no specific time limits on the process, no one can say that it took them three weeks or three years to go through the grief process and that’s the way it should be for everyone else. You have to do it in the time that you need, but fighting the process and not being willing to go through the stages you need to go through will only keep you in the process longer, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather think about life that continues rather than life that ends for too long.

So if you’re like me and facing an ending in your life (even something rather insignificant in the scheme of life like a TV show), choose to celebrate what was and look forward to the new adventures that life is just waiting for you to find.

Reality Reflection: Living Today

With this new year it seems that some people have started the year being called on to the next stage of their journey. No, you don’t really want to work through a death during the holiday season, so in some ways it’s better that it’s after the holiday season, but there’s never a “good” time to lose someone. There’s also never a good time for your life to end, everyone has more living to do, more memories to make, and more they could do to make the world a better place. But as myself and others have experienced this past week, everyone has to face that transition at some point in time or another.

This week I read a quote that fit in with how this week has gone very well. Jose Ortega y Gasset said: “We cannot put off living until we are ready.” I don’t know if we’re ever truly ready for the challenges that life throws our way. Sometimes we feel more confident about facing them based on what we’ve done in the past or the teamwork we’ve got in place to support us or our current availability, but challenges almost always throw us for a loop and we’re forced to decide if we’re going to face them or give up or in.

I think the answer to how ready we are and should be goes back to two well known statements: ‘carpe diem’ (seize the day) and ‘life is meant to be lived’. Yes, some people become more famous after death than during their lives, but everything they become famous for they did during the time they were alive. The other day on the blogs I shared about another different way to look at the new year (instead of setting typical resolutions), and that would be to be more committed, and promise to do more, be more and live more.

Maybe this year is the year that you’ll finally step up and into the person you were made to be, committed to thriving and being there for the people who matter most in your life, including yourself.

Reality Reflection: Past, Present and Future

I was watching one of my favorite Christmas Carol renditions today and got to thinking abotu the different spirits that Scrooge meets. The first ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past, made an impact on Scrooge, bringing up both good and bad memories of the past, but seeing the past and facing it doesn’t always transform a person as much as it gives us lessons to learn from or a foundation to build on.

Meeting the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge learned what it was like to celebrate life, whether it’s a life of financial riches or a life of richness in family, and live in the moment. The meeting ends with Scrooge asking the ghost not to leave because he learned so much from this ghost. I think Charles Dickens could have finished the story at this point because Scrooge did learn a lesson and saw that there’s more to life than the way he was living. It’s a lesson many of us could learn, appreciating life and those in it instead of being so focused on what could go wrong or what our future might look like.

Yes, it’s important to have an eye to the future and make sure that the way you’re living today won’t have a seriously negative impact on the future of the world or on others, and that you’re prepared for some of the challenges life will likely send your way like old age or health challenges. After all, as Scrooge learned, the future can be pretty grim. The only way to change that is to live your life now with thought to past, present and future. It all comes back to how you’re living now.

This holiday season I would encourage you to take time to stop and enjoy. Enjoy the life you have, the people in it, the gifts you are given, and the memories you are making. Be thankful for getting this far in life and getting through your past as you have. Have a positive attitude about what the future will bring and the legacy that you will leave, but don’t let the future have too large of an influence on your life now that you can’t enjoy it or make a difference as the moment calls. What are you celebrating and appreciating today?

Tell Your Own Story

I was reading an article about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the heir to the British royal throne and his wife, and their tour through Pakistan this week. The article talked about how the whole world is watching their story unfold, that we’re watching their autobiography be written with each word he/they say(s), thing he/they do(es) and place he/they goes. Many people don’t have a story written until they’re much older because they aren’t famous or important throughout their whole lives, but in the case of the Duke especially, we’ve always known that his future is important and bears watching.

One of the things that caught my attention in the article was how they saw and placed importance on the story that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and other royal family members) are creating through how they live. The Queen for example has done a great job of writing a story that portrays her as a strong leader who loves life and is extremely proud of her country and people. Just like them, we too have a say in the choices we make in our lives, but we aren’t usually as carefully conscious of how the way we live will impact the story we’re hoping to write.

Halloween is coming up in just about two weeks, and it’s a chance for many of us to tell a story about our dreams and someone we wish we could be or dream about being or have a fantasy about. For some of us it’s a chance for a little fun, but for others of us we’re serious about the person we’re dressing up to be, it’s who we wish we could be and part of a story we wish we were writing.

Life does hold responsibilities we each have to face, but more than ever people are proving that you don’t have to be something you hate or do what your parents wanted you to do just to meet those responsibilities. We each have the ability to choose how we conduct ourselves even when dealing with people and things we don’t really enjoy or are burdened by. Much of our story is told through what we say and how we conduct ourselves, especially when it’s difficult, and that’s definitely something we have control over especially when we don’t have control over other things like how other people act.

What story are you telling through your words and actions?  Is it time to write a new chapter in your story, or maybe even a whole new book?

Reality Reflection: Intended Destinations

I subscribe to lots of inspirational sites and get lots of articles, quotes and Bible verses on a daily basis (not to mention watch cute puppy videos), I think it’s important for us to get outside perspectives and encouragement, especially with life as challenging as it can be some days. Recently I saw a quote that really spoke to me:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” Douglas Adams

I find this quote so interesting because it speaks the truth about so many of our life paths. Sometimes we’re really wrong about how to get from point A to point B (which is actually point F or G), and sometimes the path we take doesn’t bring us anywhere close to our intended destination. It can be really frustrating sometimes to walk the path of life, but I believe that our lives take the turns they take for a reason (sometimes because we screwed up), and with each new step on the path of life we take there’s an opportunity for us to learn something or do something or get closer to being the best person we can be.

I was also recently reminded that we’re human beings, not human doings. Yes, typically to become our best self there has to be actions taken, but as much as it’s about what we do with our lives, it’s more about the person we become through our life journey. Who are you being each day? Are you being someone you’re proud of or someone who is denying the help they need or someone who hurts others?

At the end of the day most of us want to be happy, fulfilled and loved. Some days we barely feel like we manage any of those, let alone all 3, but with a little more care, a little more focused effort, a little more teamwork, a little more wisdom, and a little more patience, I believe we all can end up not only where we need to be but also where we are very happy to be. What is your life path teaching you at this time?

Reality Reflection: Judgments and Honesty

I’m a big fan of what I thought to be a growing trend of people who are doing business and living honestly, and with the best interests of everyone at heart.  But, the truth is that there are quite a few who aren’t on the bandwagon yet.

Bill Hybels said, “What’s further saddening to me is the growing trend, specifically in the United States culture, to throw stones first and ask questions later.”

Why should you throw stones first?  Actually, why throw stones at all?  When you throw a stone you are most likely to break something.  Maybe you break a window, maybe it’s a finger, or maybe it’s a broken heart.

In this world of preferences, options, opportunities, varieties, differences, variations, and changes, the likelihood that you jumped to an incorrect conclusion before you threw that stone is a very high one.

I would much rather ask questions and get to know you, than jump to a judgment that is completely off base.  Is it easy to not jump to conclusions? No, we’re a jumpy society.  It takes a lot of work to suspend your judgment of someone or something.

My question for you today is what good does throwing stones do?  Does it actually feel good to sling nasty things at your “competition”? Do you feel good seeing the pissed or crushed look on someone when you immediately sweep them under the rug without giving them the time to explain or clarify?

So before you leave your house this week, make sure you’ve got your keys, wallet, computer, cell phone and any other necessarys, and leave your snap judgments behind your locked and closed door.

Reality Reflection: Why me?

In thinking about Mother’s Day tomorrow, the topics of self worth and self confidence came up.  Some days we’re really confident in who we are and what we can do, but other days it seems like we can do nothing right and nothing is going our way and there doesn’t seem to be a victory or end in sight.  Are we struggling because we have doubts or are we struggling because we’re not open to the good stuff?

When we do seem to be making progress we wonder why it’s so easy. We wonder at the good things that come our way, as well as the bad things. Why is it hard for us to accept the good as well as the bad?  Why don’t we trust in, appreciate or accept the good stuff when it comes our way?

Yes, we’ve been burned by offers that promise the moon and don’t even leave the ground. We’ve been hurt by people we trust. But when it’s not life or death that we’re being offered, but a simple kindness, why do we still struggle to accept or refuse?

Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with how we’ve been treated and how we view ourselves. Self esteem issues are rampant in our society, even those of us who have no reason whatsoever to have issues do. It’s unfortunately like walking past a smoker: you can catch it without even trying. Maybe you haven’t done anything to be worthy of the kindness of another, maybe God just chooses to bestow it on you.

This week instead of just dismissing the good stuff that comes your way, or ignoring it and pretending it didn’t approach you, I encourage you to open your arms to it and be thankful for it. When you focus on the good stuff, it’s been shown that more good stuff comes your way. What good things will fill your life when you open up to them?