Reality Reflection: Out of control

It’s amazing how quickly things can sometimes spiral out of control. You say you’re just going to do one more thing and six more pop up that really need to be done that day. Or you mis-speak about something or someone mis-hears you and someone feels offended and it gets blown completely out of proportion. Or one person struggles with slick roads and it turns into a 5 car pile up. Or the weather is completely unseasonal and your family reunion plans are ruined. Or you use one wrong ingredient and the whole dish is ruined. Some of these things we have an easier time avoiding or fixing or dealing with, but for many of them we have to give recovery our best effort.

The thing about control is that you can try and be in control, and you can in fact be in control, but if someone else gets out of control you can’t do much about that except try to react or respond in the best way. In the example of communication I used earlier, it’s so easy to get caught up in a conversation and think you hear something and react instead of pausing and thinking about if you really heard what you heard and asking for clarification before forming an opinion or reacting negatively. So when it comes down to it, the better control you have, the easier it will be to stop a situation before it does spiral out of control.

It’s not about trying to be in control all of the time, if you try for that you’ll end up crazy and live such a regimented life that you miss out on a lot of adventures that the world has to offer, not to mention you won’t meet some of the cool people out there if you only focus on controlling yourself. So the question is, how good is your control? Can you stop yourself from watching another TV episode if you know you really should to do something else? Are you able to get focused on something when you really need to? Are you able to say both no and yes depending on which a situation calls for?  Are you able to let go of that control and be free and fun as the occasion calls for?  Is control a tool you use or is it controlling you?


Reality Reflection: Tit for Tat

Sometimes I wonder if we ever grow up, or if we are just children in bigger bodies. In addition to pondering this topic because of seasonal activities, I was reading the morning headlines the other day and it talked about how the US was planning some tariffs, which could result in a tit-for-tat trade war. I understand the concept of credit card fees, loan fees, repayment schedules, jail, probation, time outs, restrictions, trial runs, and contracts, just to name a few. We need rules and guidelines to make this world run without everyone doing whatever they want, to make sure that no one is persecuted or abused, and give everyone access to freedoms (unless they prove they’re not able to respect them). There’s really no such thing as a free ride, and we should be better at accepting that the only guarantees in life are death, taxes and change.

Getting back to the topic for today, there are different ways of dealing with things that don’t go our way or don’t go as expected. There’s the pointing finger, childishly high voice, throwing dirt way of telling on someone or dealing with a problem, and then there’s the mostly calm and rational discussion and negotiation option. A company may advertise that a product is back in stock, but there are limits to everything and a company certainly can’t guarantee unlimited supplies of a season’s most popular product, food or beverage, regardless of how much people may request it, or the tantrums they throw when it’s not available.

Bottom line, tit-for-tat rarely works out in anyone’s favor. Most often it ends up in more hurt feelings, more damage to undo and a mountain of new problems that weren’t there in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with going after what you want or what you think is right, or standing up for what you believe in. But if you’re really working towards a better future for not just yourself and your family but those you share the planet with, you can’t let hurt feelings, any sense of entitlement or inflated pride take a starring role in the efforts.  The next time you think about doing tit for tat, think twice about how it could come flying back in your face.

6 Simple Steps to Victory

I read a headline the other day about how big projects must address 6 key criteria. I’m not big on clickbate, but it did interest me so I looked below the headline to see what the sub text was, and it actually said what the 6 criteria were. To my surprise they were something that I was taught at a very young age, and you may have been taught too: who, what, where, how, when, where and why! It got me thinking about how much things have changed and how little some other things have changed. In some situations that’s a good thing, and in others they’re long past due or unnecessarily changed.

We’ve complicated our lives in so many ways, and that there’s value in slowing down, in simplifying and going back to some of those tried and true methods. Whether it’s sticking with email communication instead of 6 different apps and calendars, using a paper to-do list, sitting down for coffee or a beer with friends, or doing a yard sale, they may not be the trendiest things, but if they work for you, use them! Don’t get me wrong, I love how we carry phones and mini computers in our back pockets and have so many awesome things they didn’t have a hundred years ago.

As far as who, what, where, how, when, where and why, it’s amazing how these 6 simple words can help you figure out or organize so much information so simply. Many victories aren’t as simple as it is to spell the word, they have layers and steps and many people involved. For the big victories, it can feel overwhelming to try to figure out what to do or where to start. Using these 6 words can give you a very simple framework to help you make a really great plan for many victories, whether at work, home, church, with your family or in any aspect of your own health and happiness.

If your week is too much already or you’re feeling overwhelmed by being 3 months to Christmas (and almost also to the end of the year), take a deep breath, slow down for a few minutes and make a plan, perhaps using these 6 words and a piece of paper, to get things back in control and with a good idea of how you’re moving forward.

When People Stand Up

Today on one of my other blogs I shared about how CNN and MSNBC are stepping up to host climate crisis town halls with some of the 2020 presidential candidates. If you follow the news at all you know that a lot of people are talking about climate and climate issues, how there’s tons of melting up at the poles, how temperatures are fluctuating and hitting extremes that they haven’t before and how there’s increased concern over the earth’s ability to host us for as many years as we want to stay here.

What impressed me about the town halls is that CNN and MSNBC stepped up when it had been made clear that the regular conventions weren’t willing to have any type of discussion about climate, despite thousands of people asking them to. CNN and MSNBC had to work to find a loophole in the rules that allowed them to have these conversations, but they did the work and now there is political and very public conversation happening about climate.

This has reminded me about the power of many individuals standing up for what’s important and how crucial it is to stand up for what’s important. If we don’t make the effort to decide what’s important and stand up for it we’ll never make progress on the big issues in our world, rather they’ll continue to compile. It also gives me hope that someone is hearing what the masses are saying and doing what it takes to step up and actually respond.

We don’t have any answers on the climate crisis nor has there been a revolution of politics, but for the first time in a long time it feels like finally there has been a victory for the people. On the heels of some tragic shootings over the summer and in the middle of a devastating hurricane, it’s encouraging to have a victory. It shows that the voices of thousands spoken together do have an impact, that if we keep going, keep up the pressure, keep speaking up, and get a little creative, maybe we can finally make changes in our world that give our kids a safer and happier place to live and make our world healthier too.

The Many Sides of Disconnect

When was the last time you thought about the term ‘disconnect?’ It’s a popular term right now with regards to separating yourself from the internet and internet-connected devices. People talk about doing tech detoxes, scheduling (limiting) their device time, and some go so far as to unsubscribe from popular sites. I appreciate technology as much as the next person, but I’m not one to be on my phone all the time, I don’t use all the popular apps and I don’t spend hours of my personal time each week on social media. I do like being able to reach out for help at any time, getting typically accurate answers with a few pushes and having a selection of books available anytime day or night and anywhere I may be.

There’s also the type of disconnect that thankfully is not very common or frequent, and that’s a power disconnect. Hopefully you don’t experience them too frequently or extensively where you are, but I experienced one recently and it reminded me, first and foremost, how blessed we are. With a few notable (mother nature related) exceptions we’re so blessed to have reliable power which brings us internet and heat and electricity to our homes and places of employment. I can’t imagine what it was like back in the years before reliable electricity where when the sun wasn’t up you only had the light of candles or a fire to depend on. Not only is it not very safe, it’s also not very illuminating and has lots of limits compared to what we have today.

There’s one more disconnect I want to talk about today, and that’s a disconnect between you and yourself and/or you and the rest of the world. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what’s going on either in our lives or in the world around us that we get disconnected from the other. Other times we get so sidelined by stress that we’re disconnected from everything and we almost would be comparable to a cat chasing their tail endlessly. It’s frustrating to feel the disconnect and it’s frustrating to see someone in our lives disconnected. If you’re continually hitting a wall in your pursuit of victories or communicating with someone, it’s likely that there’s a disconnect somewhere that you’re missing and until you see it and fix it you’ll keep struggling.

Disconnects can be good and they can be bad. If you’re feeling overwhelmed maybe it’s the right time to do a bit of disconnecting, and get some things off your plate for a time. But keep your eyes open and watch for disconnects that you don’t want or need in your life, the sooner you address them, the healthier your relationships will be and easier it will be to reach your victories.

Stepping Up

It’s almost funny how we adults shy away from questions that kids sometimes ask. Yes, as adults we do know more answers than they do (for example about the birds and the bees), but there’s still a ton that we don’t know. For instance why don’t we ask or investigate when something doesn’t seem right with someone we love? Why aren’t we asking when something in our bodies doesn’t seem right or frustrates us? Why aren’t we talking with our partner before we get to the point of everything being a screaming match? Why are we still using products that are poisoning us and our world?

Why aren’t we asking for help? Are the potential answers and solutions so scary and unacceptable that we choose not to ask the questions? Or else why are we avoiding the questions, especially when asking them could do a lot of good in our lives and the world?

It’s easier than ever to find answers, even multiple answers. It’s easier than ever to connect with other people who have similar questions and experiences as you do. We could be celebrating more victories instead of dealing with more tragedies if we would just step up and ask some questions and do some research.

So go ahead and step into the coming season.  Choose to be brave and live your life to the fullest.  Choose to ask the questions that may be embarrassing or seem obvious if and when you have them.  Choose to be curious and explore what seems interesting to you.  Choose to make smarter decisions that will better support you and the world we all share.  Choose to take the best path, not (just) the fastest or easiest.  And encourage others to do the same so that we can all have more victories.

Victories for Now or Ever

How often do you think about the concept of forever? I was watching a show the other day and in it a character got to the point in her romantic relationship that she understood it wasn’t going to develop into anything more than it was at that point. She had to make a decision regarding whether she was going to accept the limits on the relationship and be OK with that, or if she wanted something more/different/deeper. Sometimes in a relationship you don’t want more, you’re happy with what you have, or it’s OK for the time being and there’s no real reason to push for more or make changes. Other times you’re kind of stuck and it will be a more “forever” relationship like family or the parent of your child(ren).

The same is true for victories. You don’t always have to make forever decisions, changes or moves. You can make a “for now” move or relationship to help you go in the direction of your current victory, and then move on and make changes once you’ve accomplished that victory. And of course some moves you make will result in permanent relationships and changes that will forever affect you, hopefully in a good way.

Victories are both forever victories and in-the-moment victories. It’s an in-the-moment victory to complete a project for work, but it’s more of a forever victory to become a partner or manager at your job. It’s an in-the-moment victory to make a new dish for your family, but it’s a forever victory to successfully plan a family reunion event. It’s an in-the-moment victory to run the vacuum through the house, but it’s a long-term victory to get the whole place deep cleaned and organized. It’s an in-the-moment victory to eat a healthy meal, but it’s a forever victory to daily make good food choices. It’s an in-the-moment victory to be polite to someone, but it’s a forever victory to choose a good relationship over one that causes harm.

Life is about the for-now moments and relationships as well as the forever ones. You don’t have to be on one side of the fence all the time or the other, and sometimes even forever victories are really only very memorable victories, not those that last forever. Are you placing the right amount of importance and effort into your victories?