Reality Reflection: I Dare You

I read a lot, both fiction and non fiction, so when I see the same topic or phrase several times in a short amount of time, I pay attention. The phrase I saw this week? “I dare you.” Hearing that phrase may have brought you back to your childhood and having your buddies dare you, or playing ‘truth or dare’ with friends. Even as adults we sometimes say it in a playful context (often when drinking) with friends. But the context I read it in this week was all about being dared to play a bigger game; being dared to live bigger; and being dared to love, care and trust more.

When you’re challenged to take a dare, that’s exactly what it is: a challenge. It’s giving you the opportunity to do something bigger, different, unique, fun, strange, and out of the ordinary for you. Most of the time it’s silly and probably won’t have a lot of consequences or any impact on your future, because dares are usually about having a little ‘outside the box’ fun.

But what if we turned this childhood idea into something that could be beneficial for adults? Just like we find benefit in asking questions and having a strong imagination as adults and kids? What if a little (or big) dare could help us become the people we dreamed we would be as kids? No, it’s not likely you’ll be able to realize your childhood dream of being the next Superman or Superwoman, but you can definitely become a better significant other, have a job that excites you at least on some level, be generally happy with life, and make a difference with your life.

If you’ve got some not great memories of dares from your younger days, you do need to conquer that fear first, so start with something small and not super threatening to see that dares can be healthy and beneficial, just like you start small with learning a new skill or losing weight or working out. Once you’ve got a few victories under your belt, then you can dare yourself bigger and bolder things. What will you dare to dream or do?

Reality Reflection: A Little More

This past week I noticed that some people took the first few days of the year off. Many would have had to start back in some capacity after the New Year, but for some reason I didn’t see as many people out and about on the first days of the year as I remember seeing in the past. For whatever reason people decided not to dive back into life full throttle after the New Year, but instead took a step back and took a little more time for themselves and their families.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is take or give a little more for ourselves. I don’t think that 2020 is going to be about being selfish, but perhaps about being more conscious and considerate about how we’re living and what’s really important. It may be the year when we finally start making some decisions and acting on them regarding how we’re living and treating each other. Maybe this will be the year that we all get a little more aligned with what we’re here to do and how to live our purpose in such a dynamic world.

What do you need a little more of? Is it something you can just take a couple of days and be refreshed? Is it something that you have to make some sacrifices to get to? Is it something you have been avoiding for a while? Is it simply time to step up and do something different in your life? What would make you most comfortable and confident going into this new year and new decade? If you haven’t made time yet this year or leading up to this year, I encourage you to take some time for reflection and planning, and think about your life and where you really want to go from here and how to get there.

Reality Reflection: Dreams and Beliefs

Monday in the US is the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so today I thought we’d take a minute to talk about dreams, believing and reality. In 1963 Dr. King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech, telling the world that he had a dream for men, women, boys and girls of all races and backgrounds would one day be able to live in peace together. His speech touched countless lives when he shared it, and has touched many more lives since his speech in 1963. It resonated so clearly because everyone has dreams, things they want to see become a reality, and involved in many of those dreams are thoughts of peace. Dr. King’s dream hasn’t been fully realized, but the Civil Rights Movement did make serious headway into equality for all races and backgrounds.

Part of the reason that Dr. King’s speech connected with so many people was that his dreams and what he believed was and are, things that people could see as possible. He didn’t make a speech about total world peace or total world domination, or talk about his dreams coming to fruition tomorrow, he shared about what he believed was possible over time if we all worked together. Theodore Roosevelt said “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Dr King’s commitment, passion and belief are some of the biggest reasons he was as charismatic and beloved as a leader as he was.

The reality is that just about everyone has dreams. However, not everyone really believes in those dreams, or can bring together all of the necessary components to make that dream a possibility or reality. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t dream, dreaming is one of the healthiest things we can do. Reality may just mean that you’ve got to make a new plan for accomplishing your dream, or line your dream up with someone else’s.

Do you believe in your dream? If so take a step today towards making your dream a reality.

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?

Reality Reflection: Books are Awesome

This past Friday was Read an eBook Day and September 6th was Read a Book Day, and of course it’s back to school month so there’s lots of talk of learning!  I am a huge book lover, I love reading articles online and in my emails and think that reading is one of the best ways to learn.  Of course there are other ways of learning, but to me it’s one of the best and most enjoyable.  There’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hand, but eBooks have certainly revolutionized the book industry and made it much easier for everyone to be able to read, not just those who have access to physical books or a place to keep them.

I always check out book list posts when they come through my inbox because I like to know what other people are reading both fiction and non-fiction.  Sometimes there will be books that inspire you or give you a new perspective on something that you would have never picked up yourself but thanks to someone else’s recommendation you’re able to read.  I usually go first to my local library and see if I can get the book through there since it’s not necessarily something I want to keep a copy of.

One of the things I’ve been seeing lately on posts like these and especially others that talk about the benefits of reading is how down on fiction books they are.  I love reading books about and by great leaders that can help further my knowledge about business, people and personal growth.  I’ve even read a couple good history books.  But the majority of books I read are fiction books, as are the majority of books I read with kids.

Why do I love fiction books?  First because of their passion for adventure, curiosity, love, relationships, learning, growing, dedication and sense of accomplishment.  Many authors do extensive research before doing writing and do their best to make many of the details in their books accurate to how things are in the world and given the fictional setting and characters is often a more palatable way for people to learn things.  Second because they keep us adults connected to the passion and energy that kids go through life with.  We encourage our kids to read anything they can get their hands on and enjoy when they’re kids. But when they become adults we start telling them to read newspapers and serious publications because the fiction they used to read can’t be good for anything now as adults.  But as with other things, it’s not true.

I believe there’s a need for us as adults to spend time in worlds where things are a little less structured and a lot more fun.  We’re super serious because of all that goes on in the world and because of all we’ve seen.  But just because we need to know about the reality of the world around us, doesn’t mean that a little fun, adventure and out-of-the-box thinking can’t get us just as far or further than if we just work with the box.  So get out there this week and try a new author, read a favorite author’s latest book, or pick up one of your favorites and get lost in it for a little while.

Reality Reflection: Shine Like a Star

The adventure in Rio has begun.  Whether you enjoy watching events like the Olympics or others like the World Series or Oscars (as well as local events of the same types), or not, there’s something awesome about people coming together and showing what they’ve got.  These special or culminating events include people from a specific group or from around the world who are the best of the best at the time.  It’s a way of showing what they can do as well as an opportunity for the rest of us to celebrate what they can do.  I think these types of events are important because it’s important to celebrate the good, cool, and/or interesting things we can each do.  It’s a healthy way of pointing out and celebrating our differences and what makes each of us unique.

I believe that God has given each of us special gifts and talents, and that it hurts Him when we don’t use what He has given us.  You don’t go to the store and buy stuff you don’t like or use, you only buy what you want and need.  The same is true with the gifts and talents we have: we should use them.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose and what I’m doing with my life and what I want to do with my life.  It’s always good to take time to reflect on your life and what you’re doing because it means you can stop the derailments that may be happening and curb unhappiness before it becomes full blown depression or causes more problems than it needs to.

Take time to do a reality check on your life this week.  Are you unhappy?  If so, why?  Life is way too short to be stuck and unhappy.  Don’t be afraid of letting your gifts and talents shine.  Don’t worry too much about the criticisms you get for having and using your gifts and talents.  Don’t bury your gifts and talents because you don’t think you can make a living using them or that they’re not useful gifts.  Everyone has valuable gifts, it’s up to you to find out how best to use yours.

“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:14, 16

Remembering The Liberator

July 18th was the birthday of one of the great men of the world: Nelson Mandela (celebrated as “Mandela Day”). No one is perfect (Mandela included), but he’s someone who showed throughout his life that he was a true leader. A 2013 article on Mandela called him a “Dissident, Liberator and Statesman.” Those are 3 big titles that all say something important about who he was, but the one I wanted to focus on today is “liberator.”

Mandela knew what it was to be not free, he spent 27 years in prison for his efforts to make South Africa a better place for people. Some people, having had his experience, would throw in the towel and spend the rest of their years quietly, thankful to be free. But Mandela never gave up on his dreams of and plans for a better life for himself and the people he loved, and people around the world too.

We take time each year to remember people like Nelson Mandela and the dreams they had for a reason, a reason that seems more important than ever with the violence over the past few weeks and months around the world. People like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, and countless other men and women who have passed on would not be proud of the people some of us have become. I think they would be happy to see that some thing have changed and are changing for the better, but sad that we are fighting on many of the same things that should have already been addressed, and creating issues that shouldn’t be issues and haven’t been in the past.

What it comes down to is that the world is always in need of more people like Nelson Mandela. You don’t have to be in a traditional position of power to make a difference, you have to decide that you’re going to give your best effort to fixing or alleviating the problem(s) you see in the world. Whether you make that effort in jail, on the street, in your office, in a school, or as a president doesn’t matter. What matters is that you choose to step up and let people know that they too can be liberated and choose what they want to make out of life.