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.

For Just a Season

This week we officially enter the season of summer, and the temperatures in many parts of the US are supporting that transition.  As I was thinking about the summer season, I was reminded of the Ecclesiastes passage that talks about there being a time for every season and every thing in our lives.  It’s a reminder that everything has it’s time in our lives, that sometimes we have to be patient, and that there’s a right (and wrong) time for everything.

But as I thought about it some more I was reminded that a season is exactly that: a season. It’s not our entire lives or the only thing in our lives, it’s a part of it.  Summer for us lasts 3 or so months and then there’s a new season.  The dictionary even describes a season as “a period or time….especially a short time.”

So what if for this summer season you take it as a season for your life? A season to be proactive about making positive comments on social media, or a season to eat healthy for at least one meal a day, or a season to fight as little as possible with your kids, or a season to learn about yourself, or a season to explore the great country that we share.

That means that from the summer solstice (June 21) to the autumn equinox (September 22) you take the time to focus on doing something good for yourself or the world, doing something you’ve been meaning to do, or consistently doing something that you’ve been inconsistent with.  It’s a chance to try something new, to get to know yourself better, to grow, and to do what needs to be done in your life.

What will this summer season be for you?

Reality Reflection: Memories and Reality

Tomorrow in the USA we celebrate Memorial Day.  It’s one of the days we take each year to honor the men and women who have fought for the country we call home, some paying the ultimate price.  I believe that whether you agree with the concept of war, or even with a specific war, or not, it’s our honor and responsibility as Americans to respect and remember these men and women and their families.

There have been some things that have happened throughout the years that some people more than others have questioned how real they were or what the actual story was (for example the moon landing, Bigfoot and Flight 370 from Malaysia). Unfortunately I don’t think we can ever say that the wars didn’t happen.  There is too much evidence, too many stories and too many people were killed.  The reality is these wars have happened and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future (as much as I wish they wouldn’t).  The reality is there will be men and women who will continue to go to war and their loved ones who will stay home and pray they’ll see them again.

I’ve never joined the military and while my grandfather did he was never one for telling those stories, which is totally understandable.  However, I believe some of the stories should be told.  We should hear how horrible war is occasionally, maybe we’ll fight a few less of them then.  But also, the men and women who fought should feel comfortable telling their stories rather than feeling like they have to keep it to themselves or the only person who “wants” to hear it is their appointed shrink.

So for those of us who aren’t directly part of the war effort, our job is to support those who are.  You can donate to any number of charities who support veterans from employment related ones to those who raise service dogs.  As business owners we can make it a policy to hire veterans and offer discounts to veterans.  And anyone can sign veteran support petitions or volunteer their time for veteran related causes.

The worst thing we can do though is forget (or try to forget) the wars and the men and women who were part of them.  No one deserves to be forgotten, ignored, disrespected or rejected, especially not those who have made such large sacrifices.  Who do you remember on Memorial Day?

Ready to Recommit?

We’re almost at the end of the month now, this month has had lots of ups and downs including the official end of winter and start of spring.  One of the reasons I like spring is because it is all about new beginnings.  This month one of the things we’ve talked about is commitment.  I know that sometimes, even if you’re committed to something it’s necessary to recommit yourself to it.  Sometimes we recommit because we’ve not been the most committed, but other times we recommit to reinforce and restate our commitment, but not because of failure or mistake.

Recommitting to something or someone isn’t a bad thing, it means you’ve recognized how important that thing or person is in your life and you want to make that clear to yourself or others.  Recommitting yourself can give that motivation, that fresh breath of air, that burst of energy you’d been missing.  It can also be the chance you’ve been needing to ask for the help or make the changes you’ve been struggling with or contemplating or even avoiding.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having or choosing to recommit. The issue comes when the recommitting isn’t taken to heart, if you don’t follow through on the reasons and purpose behind the recommitting.  There’s no point to recommitting if you’re not going to do what it will take to make it work or keep working.  So before we end this month I encourage you to make a firm decision about your future.  What does it hold?  Are you committed to seeing through the path your on or is it time to make a new commitment?

Committed to Success

When is the best time to start doing something you’ve been meaning to do?  The joke answer to that would be yesterday, but that’s not really helpful to anyone.  It’s not helpful to sit around and judge yourself or beat yourself up for not doing what you’ve been meaning to do or what you keep putting off.  Yes, most of us do struggle with some guilt in our lives, but a life lived from a perspective of guilt and failure isn’t one that is healthy or encourages productivity.  In fact the more time you spend in that place, the more likely you’ll become depressed and do even less with your life.

The real answer to the question of the best time to start something you’ve been meaning to do is today, or even better: right now.  Don’t put off until another day what you can and should accomplish today.  The longer you put things off the less likely you are to get them done, and the more likely you’ll end up putting out fires instead of preventing them.

I know it can seem overwhelming sometimes, especially if it’s a big task, but there are more healthy ways of dealing with it than procrastinating.  First or second, make a step-by-step game plan.  If you can’t do that step then the first step is to become educated about your task.  The internet is filled with tons of educational materials including videos and different people’s perspectives on tackling hard activities.  So once you know what steps you should be taking, write them out.  Making a visible plan on how you’re going to accomplish your overwhelming task removes another barrier to actually completing it.  Then once you’ve got your game plan it’s time for some action!

The past is what it is.  Yes, it’s good to reflect on it from time to time, but spending tons of time in or on it isn’t helpful (unless you’re a historian).  Instead of reliving the past or wading through guilt, focus instead on how good it will feel to have completed that task, and how much you’ll have accomplished in your life by achieving that task.  What will you work on today?

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” John Mayer

Priorities and Perspectives

One of the biggest problems in our society today is being over-committed.  We’ve been told that we have to be successful, do x, y and z in our lives, be this type of person, live in that type of house, eat this kind of food, watch that type of TV, give 110% at our jobs, be socially and communally responsible, and do it all while looking like attractive movie stars.  And they expect us to be happy while doing all that?!  Somehow everything has become a priority in our lives and if we’re prioritizing everything, nothing will get done, let alone the truly important stuff.

I love the concept of Lent being a time for fasting (or giving something up) and prayer.  My only issue with it is it doesn’t free us from all that holds us back from living the lives of freedom we could be living if we would de-prioritize things in our life that aren’t actually priorities, and re-prioritize things that should be priorities in our lives.  I’m not suggesting we all become missionaries, pastors, spiritual teachers and people who don’t talk about anything except spiritual stuff.  What I am suggesting is that most of us have way more baggage than is necessary in our lives and it’s time to get rid of it.

With all our priorities and commitments we can easily forget about the one thing that’s really important: being alive and living the life God has given you.  You can’t be truly living your life in a fulfilling way if you’re scheduled 118 out of 168 hours every week.  When we have less stress and more time in our lives, we’re able to enjoy ourselves again, and able to apply the eternal perspective we as Christians should have to our lives in an enjoyable and meaningful way.

This week I challenge you to take a look at your life and make sure that not only do you have good priorities, you’ve got room in your life to be alive and fulfill the destiny God has given you.  Letting go of even a little will free you up in ways you can’t imagine!  God has bigger and better plans for you, are you ready to make room for them in your life?

Personal Commitment

This month one of the topics we’ll be talking about is commitment.  We’re into our third month of the year-are you seeing the results you wanted to see in your life? If not that may be because you aren’t really committed to those results. Maybe that’s because they’re results others want to see you achieve, and not those that you’re truly interested in.  Or maybe that’s because you don’t have the resources necessary to achieve those results and aren’t doing everything you can to gain them or figure out a way to bypass them.  Or maybe you’ve been so committed to something or several things for so long that you’re completely burnt out and are really struggling to even get through the day, let alone create victories.

Commitment isn’t something you can do once and be done with, it’s something we do throughout our lives.  Today I want to encourage you to commit to yourself.  Commit to learning who you are and what you love.  Commit to caring for yourself mind, body and spirit.  Commit to spending time on the relationships that matter most to you.  Commit to making the choices that support you and your needs.

If you’re committed to yourself and your future you’ll make the choices and take the actions that are necessary to achieve your dreams and goals.  It’s not always easy to make the decisions and take the necessary actions, but you’ll find you have more interest and drive in actually accomplishing things when you’re really committed.  Yes, you’ll always have things in your life that you’re not super passionate or completely committed to (I’m not committed to winter but it seems to show up every year).  But if you make the choice to do the best for yourself you’ll never regret it.