Reality Reflection: The Sands of Time

Have you ever seen an hourglass? If you’re not sure here’s a video that shows the concept (and there are lots of videos that show how you can make your own at home, maybe a fun summer project for the kids). So what is an hourglass? An hourglass counts down time visually, as the sand moves from one part to the other you know how much time has passed. This has been a way of keeping time that has been around for centuries.

Since then many other tools have been tried and used to help communicate and indicate how time is passing, but if I can be honest, I struggle greatly with traditional round clocks and with hourglasses. Why? Because it’s almost terrifying to see exactly how quickly time is passing. It makes the passage of time an incredibly real thing, more real than it seems just because we know we watched a 60 minute show on TV or spent our expected 8 hours at our place of employment. Somehow seeing the movement of time just makes it more real for me.

And as a result I don’t typically keep those types of devices around, because instead of getting things done I’d be too busy staring at them and panicking over how fast time is moving and how fast I’m not moving, which would be counterproductive and maybe even destructive.

Yes, I’m often amazed when the end of the day arrives or when I glance at the clock on my computer after a while and see how much time has passed, time does indeed move on and that’s why we need to be conscious about the people we choose to be with and things we choose to spend our time doing. But I don’t think we need to be so conscious of time passing or the potential for loss that we spend our entire lives panicking and trying to pack life into every last second of every day. Sometimes it’s the very things that are supposed to help us that end up just hurting us.

This weekend I encourage you to take a moment or two to consider your life and if you’re really using the tools that are available for their best purpose and if you’re using your time well or poorly.  It may not be a case of throwing all the tools or ways you’re spending time out, just being more aware of how they’re supporting you (or not).

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Reality Reflection: Today was Fun

I’m a big reader, I always have been, with this month being Read Across America month, and also the month of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I was taking a look at some of the things he wrote and said. One of the things I love about Dr. Seuss and his writings is his ability to move through complicated topics and topics that may not be much fun with ease. Even if some of the words are a bit of a challenge for reading they’re still fun, and usually have a great back story to inspire or educate.

One of the things I love about children’s books is how much they manage to pack into a short amount of pages. Our adult novels and books can also pack in a great lesson into a book, but it’s much longer and more complicated than theirs ever are. Yes, some things take longer to resolve than others and are more complicated, but the fact that children’s books can resolve issues in a dozen or two dozen pages also mean that sometimes it shouldn’t take as long for us to resolve things, and we don’t have to let them get as complicated as we do.

Not only do the shorter children’s books resolve things and teach lessons quicker, they also remind us not only how much can be packed into one day, but also the appreciation of each day and how quickly a day ends. Today, and each and every day, is a gift. What we do with each day is up to us, and yes, sometimes all we can do is work through a day as quickly as possible. You can’t escape or always avoid things going wrong, but it’s both encouraging and challenging that a day can go by so quickly.

My encouragement to you today would be to take a page from Dr. Seuss and work on living each day to the fullest, having fun everyday, being a conquerer of life’s lessons with a good attitude and with consideration of others.

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” Dr. Seuss

A Sweet Touch of Kindness

We’re nearing the end of Lent with the arrival of the Easter holidays starting on Sunday with Palm Sunday, and today we were able to celebrate the arrival of spring. Some of us have a spiritual practice of giving something up for Lent, but spring is known for the arrival of new things and Easter is really about a fresh (forever) start. So today I thought we’d talk about something you can start fresh this spring, something that’s Kingdom inspired, as shared in Proverbs 16:24:

“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Kind words are one of the least expensive but sometimes most challenging things we can do. It’s easy to keep our mouths closed and a little too easy to pass on gossip or say something that’s more disparaging than constructive criticism. However, with a little practice I believe we can make kind words not only something that’s sweet, but easy going down too. I think the best place to start is with whatever is easy for you. If it’s easy for you to thank the cashiers, start with consistently thanking them. If it’s easy for you to send a nice, meaningful thought to your partner each day, start with that. If it’s to offer kind words to pets that have been severely neglected or abused by volunteering at animal shelters, start with that. Find something kind that feels good to you and you feel comfortable doing and do it every day, multiple times a day.

As anyone who has tried to lose weight or get in shape knows, one meal or one workout doesn’t an ultimate goal reach. You have to be consistently working on those meals and workouts and starting with small steps and growing to bigger ones if you want to get to your target weight or activity level. The more you’re kind in ways that are practical, normal and easy for you, the easier it will be to branch out into other ways of being kind and saying kind things to others.

What kindness practice will you start today?

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.

Do You See What I See?

I love writing and reading, it’s something I’ve always loved. I enjoy the story as well as the process of doing the writing, and creative outlets like writing are an important part of my life and health. You may be familiar with the debate that’s been raging for some time about how many blogs and books there are and how sometimes it seems like everyone is saying or writing the same thing. Maybe there aren’t any new ideas, but I haven’t read too many books or blog posts that were exactly the same. Everyone and just about everything is different in at least a couple of ways, and I believe we can keep writing and reading because everyone sees things a little differently, and, even more importantly, I believe that there are still some new things and thoughts to come.

If you had asked someone in the 1800’s about what they thought the future would hold, they might have come up with some interesting ideas, but I have my doubts that they would come up with laptops and iPads, or the ability of the internet to connect different parts of the world instantly. So I don’t think it’s possible for us to run out of ideas, we’re just in a phase where we’re working with what we have and not ready to make a big upgrade yet. When it comes to the concepts that people say are overdone and overrated and overused, I’m always amazed when I read a new author or article about a topic and see things differently because I’m seeing things through a new perspective, their perspective.

Yes, there will always be someone who sees too many similarities and can’t appreciate the creative output. There will always be a critic in your life that you can’t stand. Why? Because some people just can’t see beyond their personal box. That’s not wrong, it’s just how they are. But I believe life is to be lived and can’t be fully lived if you’re not willing to see beyond where you are.

“Faith is raising the sail of our little boat until it is caught up in the soft winds above and picks up speed, not from anything within itself, but from the vast resources of the universe around us.” W. Ralph Ward

A Summer of Celebration

Today is the summer solstice.  It’s a day of celebrating the summer ahead, reflecting on the seasons past and celebrating being alive and having the sun to warm and feed us. Many groups of people take time on days like the solstice to stop and reflect or have a practice or something they say to honor the transition, and it got me thinking about taking time to thank and honor God.  So today I thought I would share a few verses to inspire and encourage you to recognize God’s presence in your day to day life and in larger moments like the solstice.

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

“Sing praises to God and to his name!  Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”  Psalm 68:4-5

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”  Psalm 19:1-2

“O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens…When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”  Psalm 8:1, 3-4

“Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp.  He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.  He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry.  He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  Psalm 147:7-11

I encourage you to look and see where God is working this summer.  Don’t give up hope because it seems like all you see is sorrow and hate.  And if you can’t see God working, maybe He’s waiting for you to do something to share some joy and sunshine with someone.

Reality Reflection: Flying Flags

This coming Tuesday in the USA is Flag Day.  It’s the day that we stop and remember the journey our flag has gone through and the people who have given their all for it and our country.  As I was thinking about Flag Day it got me thinking about lots of things about flags in general.  I shared a few on the business blog post this past week and will share a few more thoughts in my business newsletter this week, but today I wanted to talk a bit about the flag and what it means for our lives.

The concept of flags is really a simple one, it’s a visual way of bringing together people from a certain group and a way to identify those who are aligned with that group.  It’s a way we honor the past, a way of celebrating the things that unite us and a reminder for what we are working towards in the future, or of things in the past that we’re building a new future on.  Whenever we see an American flag it should remind us of the men and women who have made all kinds of sacrifices for our freedoms that we enjoy and treasure, and occasionally take for granted.

Flags that you personally relate with should be a source of pride, it shouldn’t be something that fills us with hate when we see it or ambivalence.  We should want to raise it high, know its history, and display it proudly.  We should want to support and know about the men and women who have played a role in its creation and have worked and do work to keep it flying.  That doesn’t mean that you have to salute every flag you see, have one hanging in every room or attend every parade, but on special holidays for Americans like the 4th of July, Memorial Day, 9/11, and Veteran’s Day you should fly a flag or even just put out a small one in a pot on your balcony if you can’t really hang one.

But just because you don’t know the history behind a flag and it’s not “your” flag, it doesn’t mean you can’t be respectful of it and the people who are proud of it (as long as it doesn’t represent bad things).  If you meet someone who is proudly displaying a flag you’re not familiar with I encourage you to ask them about it and hear the story behind it and what it means to them.  And I invite you to share the stories of your flag(s) in the comments section today too!

What flag will you proudly fly on Flag Day?