Make Way for Victories

I’ve probably mentioned before that I watch cop shows on a regular basis, typically the real-life type. I’m not into committing crimes, I don’t have people in my family who do, and I don’t have any interest in getting into any type of criminal investigation work, but I always find these shows interesting but not overly dramatic (because I don’t like drama) and they’re obviously not comedies (which I don’t enjoy watching either).

As I was watching one the other day on a show the team was investigating a murder and found tons of evidence of the crime stored away in the house where the suspect was living. The suspect had cleaned up the crime scene, but kept all of the materials that were used to commit the murder as well as clean up in the house, which just made me shake my head. If you’re really going to attempt to hide the murder you’ve done, you don’t keep evidence of it in your house, you get rid of it at least down the block, if not several towns over.

I’m not going to talk about the lack of common sense some people have, but rather how the concept is applicable to something much more relevant to most people’s lives: victories. There are times in our lives that we have to move on from something in our present or past if we want to get to the next step of our victory journey, or the next victory period. Sometimes the best thing to do is to remove the past from our lives. That doesn’t mean boxing it up and putting it on a shelf in the basement or the attic, but rather throwing it out and removing it completely from our lives. You can’t remove your memories nor can you remove the memories of others, and it’s very difficult to remove stuff from some parts of the internet (deleting only does so much), but removing any bits of evidence that you can that remind you of that past or connects you to that past can help you make more positive steps into the future and your next victory.

So what do you need to get rid of today that will help you not only feel more free but help you create more victories?  Go ahead and get rid of it, keeping it will only hold you back rather than help set you free.

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Right to Restore?

For the past few years there’s been a revitalization in interest in restoring old buildings. We’ve also seen this recently with the discussions over Notre Dame and whether it will be restored as it most recently was, or if they’re going to make some changes. I can understand the perspective of wanting to restore buildings, many old buildings have an incredible presence about them that updating or changing them would destroy. But other times there’s value in making some changes, especially if it means you’re going to breathe new life into something. So how do you know when to restore and when to be open to some change?

Tiredness is a great indication that a decision has to be made, either to put in the effort to restore or to move on to something different. The unfortunate thing about old buildings is that sometimes they do reach the point of being so tired there’s no hope for them and changes have to be made. The same is true for people, we can get so tired, so burnt out, that we don’t have anywhere to go but required changes.

If you’re pretty happy with the bones, the foundation of what you’ve got in life, it’s probably that what you need is a restoration. But if you’re finding that it’s sand all around or nothing is working like you think it should or want it to, you’re ready for a change. And there’s nothing wrong with passing the bones or foundation of what still works onto someone else before it’s irreparable.

Yes, it hurts to let go of some of the old buildings and old parts of our lives, but not everything was meant to last forever. We should always have some treasured items and memories from the past that stick with us, while we still remain open for the new and amazing that is being created or simply revealed to us. Don’t forget that going with something different or new doesn’t have to mean that it was made in this year or even this decade, it could just be something new to you.

So what could help you make more victories? Is your life in need of some restoration or are you ready for something new?

The Story of Today

75 years ago today there was a big military operation, one that you probably know by name even if you don’t know what really happened, when it was or who was involved: D-Day. I’m not the biggest history buff, I’m not quite sure how I managed to pass most history classes, but I’ve heard of D-Day, and I’m thankful to the multiple countries and some approximately 160,000 troops who made this effort and helped bring us a big step closer to defeating the Germans and their allies in WW2.

One of the headlines I’ve seen around this year’s events is that the men and women of the war, both abroad and at home, are sharing their stories. It’s not easy to talk about what happens during war, and many would rather just forget what they saw and did, which is totally understandable. But when the only things that are shared are facts (dates, times, numbers), it’s hard for many people to really understand why they should care, let alone remember anything about it. But I wish I had more stories from my grandparents and other seniors that have been in my life over the years before they passed; once they die their stories are gone.

It’s with these stories that it’s affirmed what an incredible victory was had that day, and the personal contribution that each person made. It’s also a reminder that behind every victory is a story. Sometimes it’s one of lots of details and planning, other times it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision, and often there’s a lot of grace and/or luck involved, with moving parts we never will know about. Don’t be afraid of the story or think your story doesn’t matter, stories are what paint pictures, dream dreams and make stars glow at night. Stories also inspire others and encourage them that if you were able to get through what you did to achieve victories, so too can they. What story did you write today?

Take A Break

Is it time for you to take a break? If you’re feeling frustrated or out of sorts or at a loss or pulled in too many directions, it probably is. When it comes to making victories we can be our own worst enemy, especially if our attention span won’t kick into the appropriate gear. Taking even a 10 minute break can be good for rejuvenating your creativity as well as freeing your attention span so that you can get back on track and get stuff done. I know, that sounds a bit odd, but it’s true.

Taking a break is not only good for your attention span, it’s healthy too. Many of us devote many waking hours to working and we’ve reduced our focus on fun and relaxation to almost nothing. It’s more of a dream or desire than something we actually have or make time for.  Scheduling in not only breaks but fun as well will help keep you more productive and engaged when you do sit down to work.

So what kind of breaks can you take to help you get back on track? Sometimes you can get back on track with a snack, an art/craft project, reading a book for a bit, some form of exercise including a walk, just some fresh air, or getting a change of scenery can be helpful. Sometimes the simplest thing is the best, and you can just go with whatever your brain is working on (instead of trying to push through on what you’re struggling to focus on) and get those things done first.

Planning for victories means you add in time for moments like these when you’re distracted: you schedule in breaks and buffer time and free time and play time. That way you’re not down to the wire without sufficient time, you have time to get rejuvenated and your life isn’t just work.  You may even find that you have more time for stuff and are less stressed because of adding breaks and buffer time and aren’t always trying to catch up.

Summer is a great time to get into the habit of taking breaks, taking time for yourself and becoming more focused when you need to be.  What will you do on your next break?

Reality Reflection: The Animal Kingdom

I’m an animal lover. I always have been and I love whether I get to be in person with them or see them on TV or in a book or news story. I have a strong preference for dogs, but I do love all animals. I enjoy seeing them do what they do naturally in nature as well as the ways that they face and interact with the things we humans have created in the world. There does seem to be a disconnect between our needs and theirs, and our respect of their lives and their way of living, one that’s creating a crisis for them and their future.

In 1973 the Endangered Species Act was established to raise awareness about the millions of animals around the world that are at risk, threatened or endangered, and also do whatever is possible to help avoid extinction for them. Sadly some animals have gone extinct, although there are enough hidden corners still in our world that it’s possible that one day some of them may reappear and that they’re not actually extinct, just so rare they aren’t able to be found by humans.

So here’s the thing. I’m not a scientist, I can’t tell you exactly the scientific or ecological reasons that we need to have these animals on the planet, what their role is in keeping all of us alive and keeping our planet functioning as it does. But I can tell you that people have done the research and they have followed the path from the small insects to the big cats and everything in between and beyond, and they’ve shown that our lives and world would be very different if they weren’t here.

But the reason that I support and cheer for endangered species is because of how magnificent they are, how fully they live their lives and how much joy they bring to my life when I see them. I’m thankful for the men and women who are out there setting trap cameras so we can catch a glimpse of them, and especially fighting against the unnecessary and insensitive human takeovers. Everyone dies at some point in time, but I would hate to be the one who helped cause the death of an animal or a species just because I’m alive. I don’t think it’s a trade off, us vs. them, but I do think we need to be more conscious about the impact that our lives and choices have on theirs.

On this Endangered Species Day I encourage you to not only stand up for the important plants and animals of our world, but also to celebrate them. Which one or ones are your favorite?

An Appreciation of Quality and Permanence

A big part of our lives is the stuff we have and use, stuff that has to be replaced and replenished, sometimes on a daily basis. Some stuff like cars and homes most of us replace every couple of years or every couple of decades, depending on how our lives change. For homes most of us go into that purchase hoping that it will last us for many years and be a good return on investment, but for other things like shirts or steaks, we just hope that it’s going to satisfy the need we have for as long as that may be, even if it’s just a couple of hours.

We typically look at price when going to buy something, and depending on what we’re buying will depend on how seriously we get into the quality question. Sometimes we’re looking for quality that is excellent but only lasts for a day or a few hours (a hotel room or theme park visit or steak), other times we’re looking for quality that lasts a few years like shirts or cars. Sometimes we’re just looking for an experience, other times we’re looking for something that will make us feel good, other times we’re looking for the quickest suitable solution.

I know some people complain about how things break or how quality has really decreased overall in the past few years, but lately I’ve been appreciating just how long I’ve had some things like my car and some of my favorite shirts. They may not be as “perfect” as they were when I got them, but they’ve lasted a long time, longer than I planned when I made the purchases. It’s impractical to think that things will last forever, but I don’t think we truly appreciate how long things can last when treated with care.

New is great, but there’s incredible value in taking care of what you have. If we show a little more respect and appreciation for what we have, it can also inspire businesses to give more care to the products they create for us. What do you have that you’ve had for a long time that you love?

On the Other Hand

One of my favorite things about this time/world we live in is the sheer number of options for just about everything. You aren’t stuck having to marry someone in your town or someone of the opposite sex. You don’t have to have kids if you don’t want to. You don’t have to buy from the grocer down the street, you can order online. You don’t have to stay in one town for your whole life, you can go almost anywhere in the world. You don’t have to stay at one job forever, you can work a whole variety of jobs with a whole variety of companies during your working years.

The question is if you can see the options that are available to you or how much you’re limiting or blocking yourself. Options are great, but only if you know they exist or are able to find them. The good news is that the more often you take a minute and consider options before just making a decision, the easier it gets to come up with them.

One way to make sure you’re seeing the options available to you is by talking things through with others. No one knows everything, but if you’re not sure what you options are but you know that you’re not thrilled with what you’re currently seeing, asking some friends or posting on social media can help you find some ideas that you may have never thought of, or help you narrow down the options you are trying to decide between.

You absolutely can get overwhelmed by the multitude of options, but I would rather have more options to choose from than not have any choices to be able to make.  There’s also nothing wrong with sticking with what works for you, as long as it still works for you.

Today I encourage you to think about one situation that’s frustrating you and come up with 5-10 options on things you could try, change, apply, or ask about that situation that might help you create a breakthrough.  What will you work on today?