The Purim Journey

This past week was the celebration of Purim in Jewish communities around the world.  It’s a celebration that anyone who has read the Christian Bible is familiar with as well because the story is told in the book of Esther.  The story is noteworthy for many reasons, but it all boils down to a queen (a woman) stepping up for her people (Jews) and stopping an evil plot that would have been one of the earlier examples of genocide. Because of her bravery she has been remembered throughout the spiritual histories of both Christians and Jews.

This story of deliverance is an excellent example of the way that one person can step up and do something great for many people.  Esther took a big risk by pleading for not only her life but the life of her people before the king.  While most of us are not in the position of great power and responsibility that she was, we can still learn from her courage and her story.

Royalty in that day and age wasn’t always a by-birth thing.  Esther grew up a normal girl who got picked to be queen, she didn’t know her life would take that turn.  We don’t know where the journey we’re on will take us. We can make some educated guesses based on the decisions we’re making and things we see showing up in our lives.  Most of us do have the power to change that path if we’re not happy with it or if we want something different/better/else. If an ordinary girl can become queen, I have to believe that the options for the rest of us are just about endless.  What will you choose to do with your future?

Reality Reflection: Past and Future

I was talking about the show “Hoarders” with a client this week.  I love organization and it’s something I work on with my clients, but it’s not a show I enjoy watching or choose to watch.  I have watched it in the past because of what I do and out of curiosity.  The premise of the show is that there are people whose houses are so crammed full of stuff that they can hardly move.  Something has happened in their lives or the lives of family members and as a result they’re finally deciding to try to do something about the clutter.  The Hoarders team is brought in and together the client and team work to not only throw out or donate a lot of stuff, they also talk about the non-visible clutter that made the visible clutter get this bad in the first place.  I saw a recent commercial for it featuring an individual who had been on the show as a client and he shared his thankfulness about the transformation that took place in his life through the show.   If you’ve seen it you know that as a result of the work the clients do experience great transformations and are given a fresh start at life.

The reason I bring it up is because of the conversation we were having around it.  Yes, the craziness of the hoarding was mentioned, and they said that they sometimes get sucked in and watch because they can’t believe it and it just amazes them.  The reason I like the show is because they achieve a great transformation with it.  I’m not a fan of news TV because often it’s just a report, nothing is done about the issue. Yes, it’s great that issues are coming to light, but just bringing them to light doesn’t really do anything. The rare exception is when someone’s experience or emotions are confirmed around a situation or person and they’re able to find some peace or freedom as a result (like hearing the story of a rape survivor or knowing a dishonest executive was sent to jail may give them some peace even if the individual that raped them or took their money wasn’t).

Yes, I take time to look at the issues with myself and my clients, I don’t believe we can really move on unless we take time to work through them and understand them at least a little and see how they fit into our life story.  But I don’t believe it’s healthy for all of us to be bringing up our history or focusing on what went wrong in our lives all of the time.  I believe there has to be a point at which we choose to move forward and start telling a new story.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move on to what 2017 has for us. I’m tired of talking about 2016 and the past, and ready to start equipping myself and others to conquer all this year has to offer.  Are you?

Love Your Life

Every year we cover a ton of topics, from the tough stuff to enjoying life more.  There are lots of changes happening around the world, some faster than others and some seemingly slow and we feel like they’ll never happen.  Whether you’re talking about finances, the economy, politics, jobs/business/careers, the environment, energy, health or just plain relationships and families, things are changing whether people want them to or not, and we typically identify with one group’s perspective on a topic more than we do with another’s.  We read or hear the news about tragedies that happen around our world, and sometimes we get an up close and personal look at them when they happen in our part of the world.  I hurt when I see or hear about other people around the world getting hurt, even if they’re not people I know.  There are tons of reasons to be scared or worried or concerned or frustrated or anxious about life.  But is that really the way you want to live your life?

Personally I want to love my life.  I want life to be filled with things I love, things that make me happy, things that challenge me in a good way, things that I feel good about and people I care about.  I may not have control over everything, but in this day and age we do have a whole lot of options and the ability to control quite a bit and certainly the ability to make decisions about what and who we want in our lives.  I want to be able to look back and feel good about what I’ve done and the relationships I’ve had.

One of the things we’ll be talking about this year is having that kind of life and how to get it.  We’ll talk a little about what holds us back from getting that life, but as I recently talked about with a client, you don’t really need me to point out all the bad stuff and talk more about it.  I’d much rather go from the established fact that the issues exist and start working on getting past/through/over and beyond them.  Let’s start off the weekend with a simple question: what do you love about your life?

Christmas Carol Classics: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

“We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
And a cup of good cheer

We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
So bring it right here

So bring us some figgy pudding
So bring us some figgy pudding
So bring us some figgy pudding
And bring it right here

Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year”

To finish out our year and this Christmas season I’m sharing one last song, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”  It’s one of those classic songs that you do hear every year and many artists do their own version of (including Weezer).

This is yet another song that has come out of England with smashing success.  While parts of it were around from earlier years, the rendition in 1935 brought about most of what we know of as the carol today.  The lyrics “a merry Christmas and a happy New Year” have ties to the carolers that would sing outside of homes in exchange for food or drink (hence the line that talks about “figgy pudding”).

As we look into the new year just a short while away I’m excited for what’s ahead.  We’ve just about made it out of this year and into a new one.  No matter how bad or good your last year was you’ve just about made it to the new one.  One of the reasons I chose this song is because of the passion and purpose in it.  As we go into the new year we often talk about resolutions, and while I’m not going to suggest that you make one right now, I do encourage you to commit to yourself that you’re going to make it your best year yet and you don’t give up, especially if this past year wasn’t your best.  What will you make of 2017?

Making Choices in 2016

As we head towards the end of this year rapidly, I’m torn between wanting to sweep this year under the rug and say ‘good riddance’ and ‘thank God it’s done,’ or focusing on the good steps that did happen and celebrating them.  But this isn’t just a choice we make at the end of the year (or in the beginning of one when we’re considering resolutions), it’s something we really do each day.  Each day is filled with choices that we have to make as to how we’re going to think about and react to something.

Sometimes things slip through our defenses and we end up spending way more time or effort on them than we should.  Maybe it ends up working out and you learned something valuable or you make a valuable connection through it or you finally hit your breaking point and are able to get the help you need and have been putting off for a while.  But too often it ends up being a waste of time, a waste of effort, an unnecessary distraction or leads you down a rabbit hole that you didn’t want to go down again.

This past year has been an interesting one as far as showing our choices and what we get from making those choices.  Some were really surprised with the election, others were shocked that Britain voted to leave the EU, relationships began and ended and yet the world continues to turn.  I don’t know what the year ahead holds but I do know that we’ll have lots of choices to make and some will end well and others won’t.  What has 2016 taught you about making choices?

“I can promise you right now that both good and bad things are going to happen to you in your life. Good and bad things happen to everybody. Some people are good at finding the miserable things in life, and some are good at finding the joy. No matter what happens to you, what you remember is up to you.”  Matthew Buckley

Reality Reflection: Life Changing

I heard it said again on the radio tonight, the statement said by someone who had some interaction with an entertainment group (music/TV producer etc): “my life has completely changed!!”  Don’t get me wrong, I love life changes.  I love that we can step into them and many things can go right as a result.  There are plenty of people who have benefited from “life changes” that have begun like this, but there are others who have not benefited, and may even have a worse life as a result.  For every successful reality, music, TV, sweepstakes, lottery star/winner there are also those who end up throwing many good things in their life away as a result of the encounter with the “life changing moment.”

One of the things that pushes my buttons most about this is that before they won the lottery or before they became a mega star they were living this whole life-a life that probably wasn’t awful and they were OK living.  Sure, we all wish we could improve or change our lives in some way, but many people live OK lives in this day and age. As much as we may hope and dream for our own fairy godmother (in whatever form “she” comes in), most of us don’t need her to get through life.  With a little hard work most of us can reach the real goals we have for our lives (without robbing a bank or selling drugs).  We may never become the super pop star known ’round the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make enough money or have the life experiences we truly want.

Assuming you get lucky one day and it happens to you and you can say “and my life has completely changed!”, I encourage you to keep a level head.  Yes, you should celebrate the abundant blessings and great opportunities that come your way as a result.  You should take time to live it up and try things that before weren’t things you could do because of who or where you were or your finances.  But at the same time you should also put away as much of the money as possible to keep in case it happens that there’s an ‘after’ to your happy life change.  I’m not saying something will go wrong, just that it’s always a good idea to plan for the future.  And don’t give up on the people who mean the most to you now either, because it’s likely that they’ll be the people there long after the fame has ended.

Just in case today is your lucky day, it’s always a good idea to have a smile, decent outfit, cleaner house and positive attitude at the ready (and it wouldn’t hurt to work on meditating and finding your center now while you have the time to practice).  Who knows, maybe because of that smile and positive attitude you’ll get lucky without a fairy godmother today.

Reality Reflection: Peace for Tomorrow

Like many people my heart breaks for the various tragedies and evil that goes on around the world and hurts people, destroys their families and lives and kills others.  It’s something we have to face as people of faith, that there will be evil until God comes back.  Do I believe that even with evil remaining we can do a better job than we’ve done? Absolutely.   I believe that there’s something that each and every one of us can do to make the world a better place, one that fewer people fear for their lives or sanity and have more opportunities to use their gifts and talents in a way that builds up the world and creates a better future for the next generations.

So when it comes to the choice to not stand for the National Anthem or not supporting police officers I have a hard time making that choice.  Yes, I absolutely believe that Black Lives Matter and that there are police who are completely prejudiced and that things have to change again, in line with the changes of MLK Jr’s days and even before that with the Civil War slaves’ freedom.  But I also believe that we have to give Veterans and those who are in the military more respect and support than we do (I have family and friends who have served), and disrespecting police isn’t helpful either.

So rather than seeing not standing for the Anthem as (just) disrespect, maybe it’s something that’s happening because people feel they have tried all manner of other things and have not found any other way to get people’s attention on the importance of changing things and actually causing change to happen.  The question is that as great as it is that people are finally noticing how not right things are and taking a stand as a result, is it really doing anything to make change happen in the people and places that it needs to?  Thinking back to the big blow up with the Veterans and the VA and how it was revealed how long it was taking to be seen and get help at the VA, while some things may have improved since then, I’m sure most veterans you talk to would say that not much has changed now that a lot of the noise has died down.

The thing with change is that it only works if people agree that there’s really a problem and things need to change.  Some people may say for example that the majority of black people (especially males) are out for violence and carry guns and should be treated as an imminent threat. Actual statistics may not support that, but because what’s in the news or presented as the credible threat is primarily black people, that’s what some people come to believe and get their tunnel vision as a result.

I can’t force anyone to change their opinions, even if I present credible evidence in opposition of their opinions.  But I can choose to stand with those who are bullied, seen as less than important, downtrodden, ignored, abused or judged for superficial (irrelevant) factors.  I believe that we should each be given the opportunity to prove who we are and our value before we’re judged by the world, and most be given a chance to start over if we fail.   As for how we change things, maybe we should be looking back at the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation and what happened after MLK’s March on Washington and how the changes as a result of the Civil Rights of the 50’s and 60’s were put into place and give them a modern spin to apply to our need for change today.