Atrophy (Part 1 of 3)

How Do We Become the Person That We Know We Can Be?
For starters, being intentional to take my own advice, to listen and be appreciative of others opinion and knowledge!

Or possible better stated, what does our life journey look like and how best to navigate?

what keeps your cup full

There is no definitive answer as everyone would respond to this introspective and growth question differently. However that said I do believe one thing, without growth and continued learning we will experience atrophy and never know the answer for ourselves.

I was recently reading a Rochester Mayo Report on health in preparation for my upcoming physical at the Executive Health Department. The topic was Physical ATROPHY and the importance to remain active as our muscles will quickly lose their strength, resilience, elasticity dramatically impacting quality of life. As I was reading, it became apparent that Atrophy also applies to our emotional and intellectual health as well.

What has struck me is that this 18-24 month ritual of mine has evolved, thanks to Mayo, into a two prong approach; Time with my Dr. Kirk assessing my current physical well-being along with all of the labs and specialties that give me a “once over assessment” as to how I am NOW. Secondly the time with the “Healthy Living Department” to assess, learn and develop habits to hopefully avoid atrophy and to improve the FUTURE. Why do I do this? You see, my objective is to continue to stack the chips on my side of the table to increase the probability of a long healthy, meaningful and high quality life. I am striving to be intentional, to minimize my mistakes, to avoid atrophy and living life with a purpose and meaning. I want to have the physical and cognitive ability to succeed or at least feel I did my best.

HOW MANY PRONGS OF ACTIVE LIVING ARE YOU DOING TO STAVE OFF ATROPHY?

So how do we intentionally delay or eliminate physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual atrophy? What I know for sure is that I do not know all the answers, however feel that my learning curve has accelerated in the right direction on of those areas of atrophy.

I feel I have learned few things on this question;

  • IT IS NOT JUMPING OFF THE CLIFF and THEN FIGURING OUT IN MID AIR! There are some actions that may not give you a second chance.jumping from a cliff
  •  The answer will not become apparent without some intentional effort
  •  We will make mistakes in our journey
  •  You and Me both are entitled to a second chance as we are very human
  •  We all have a special gift and the gift we have is not to compare and try to be someone we are not!
  • It is critical to not ignore emotional and spiritual grown, keep peeling the onion, I am confident you will discover, as I have, that the core never is reached and each layer has another challenge that was not expected nor anticipated

I frequent the local Caribou and often find myself watching the morning human race come and go. I observe the energy, behaviors, manner and kindness (or lack thereof) exhibited. These frequent observations remind me what is respected, what is tolerated and what I pray I never do unintentionally.

I also have been blessed to spend many days a week at Sister Kenny to support a friend who was struck down with a nasty stroke.

You may be surprised in my describing this as a blessing resulting from a tragedy of someone else, let me explain; This experience of being at Sister Kenny most ever day for a month and now 3 to 4 times a week supporting a friend and having dinner with fellow patients. This meaningful commitment of time has change and impacted me and my paradigm of looking at my own life as a complaining to jesustrue blessing as I have watched and listened to the stories of patients, their struggles, their thankfulness for life and the staff at Sister Kenny. It has been much like this photo and being reminded that my problems are rather minor compared to others. It has reminded me that to complain to others or in my prayers is selfish and totally insensitive.

 

So….. What Keeps your Cup Full?

Watch for Part 2 – “Am I Going in Circles?” and Part 3 – “Life Lessons being Learned from Pickleball!”

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UNTITLED

To Those Who Have Followed my Ramblings;

I received a greeting by a Facebook friend along with a request…”Happy New Year Bob; continue to challenge everyone in 2019!”

This short and meaningful note will be a personal challenge as my life observations and challenges are communicated in my Ramblings. These Ramblings over the years are not to tell anyone what to do, or how to think, instead to write about personal thoughts prompted by life experiences, observations and reading that hopefully are worthy of consideration, thought and discussion by others, my followers. Who knows, maybe even a bit of change!

I will take this challenge by my FB friend, Diane, someone I have never met, yet have gained enormous respect over the years, as a challenge that requires personal intentional living, personal thought, consideration, and possible change, not only by me but just maybe by some of those who follow these random Ramblings.

I am painfully aware that change is one of the most difficult, not impossible tasks in life, however taking baby steps and support by others around us can make this very difficult action possible.

As I reflect on this past Christmas Season, I find it comforting that The Christmas Season , for me, is one of deep emotions, reflecting on past great memories, feeling blessed with all that I have been given. I shed some tears and embrace the moments of the past, not to live in the past, but to honor the past. I feel honor and appreciation for the gained knowledge from the past as I have found to do so is critical to a healthy emotional life going forward.

The Christmas and New Year Holiday is also a time to regroup and make 2019 a better year than 2018 on a few specific aspects of life, not a flurry of endless New Year’s Resolution Lists that seldom are looked at again and seldom acted upon.

For me, the season is symbolic with the birth of Baby Jesus. Not only was Jesus born to change the landscape of history and the lives of the world, it is also a time for each of us to symbolically be re-born as to our future and the gifts we have to give to those around us, by doing so, we are giving ourselves a gift of joy, contentment and absolute honor of our past.

May everyone have a 2019 that is memorable and filled with JOY.

Upcoming Rambling:
Live without Atrophy, “Die Young Very Old!”

The Significance of the “DASH”

On this Christmas Day afternoon, I share with my followers reflections as I prepare for 2019.

(Birthdate  ”dash ” Date of Death)

Have you ever given thought to the significance of the “Dash” between a Birthdate and Date of Death? I know until recently, I had not.

While listening to a tribute of a longtime family friend’s funeral I had a “Stream of Consciousness” when the speaker asked the question as to the significance of the DASH.

As significant as the two “bookend” dates are, knowing that death does not happen without birth, what occurs between these two significant dates is equally and arguable more important as to our lives and hopefully the lives of those around us.

The “DASH” is a reference as to what happened between these significant bookend dates. What filled the gap of time between when we were born and the day we died? How did we live our lives in the manner that is most important in using the god given and developed talents?

I so wish I had definitive answers to “How to live our lives!” that everyone would embrace. I know that it can be defined differently by so many. Would it not be rewarding and fun to have this type of discussion with your life partner? Just imagine the impact that would make in the depth and meaningfulness of the “US” of that relationship.  Maybe, no, it is a “no” , I should not be concerned as to how others will define this and just be “BOB”, to do as I feel is what I feel is important and not get caught up with comparison as we cannot be someone else.

The unique definition that others may apply are all based on how they were raised, our “Family of Origin”, who we have associated during our lives, the depth of our vulnerability to discuss alternatives and various aspects of a meaningful life. We may discover for ourselves that possibly a misguided definition as to “What Matters and is Important!” becomes apparent and change is in order? All these aspects to arriving at the framework for this question can be fun and challenging and very possible open our eyes to a depth we never imagined until it was vulnerable and courageously discussed and debated.

AND THEN….when we feel great as to our definition, we discover we have not always walked the walk, and discover that the desire and ability to change is by far the most difficult, not impossible, just painfully difficult and relies on trusted others in our lives to make change possible.

I heard a phrase that resonated with me recently, “change does not occur until the pain of the current is greater than the pain of change.

How powerful is that?”

So what are guiding principles that will guide my “DASH” and yours? Are they similar, dramatically different? Have not thought about it? Is it time? (No, it is overdue!);
• Be Kind
• Be selfless and look outward to being happy and filled with JOY
• Be trustworthy
• Have an abundance of Grace and believe in the act of forgiveness
• Be willing to take risk, be courageous and forgo comparison, courage is learned behaviors…learn it!
• VULNERABLE communication is the foundation for success in life and in relationships
• Work on expanding my relationship with God
• Discover my god given talents and use them!
• Be a good steward of resources
• Honor those important to me who no longer are living and live up to what they wanted for me when they were alive. An act of honor I feel.

As for those of us who have lost someone close, what occurred after “the date of death of the significant person in our lives”? This is pivotal to how our own individual “DASH”, the time between the dates of the death of a loved one and our own date of death, becomes a second and very “PERSONAL DASH” that is created and will be lived out.

As I reflect on the death of my father, knowing that the grief has subsided and that he will never return, I asked myself, how best to honor what I had? My conclusion is to do as he wanted for me when he was alive. To excel in life as he would wish in my own personal way and at the same time make him proud. To embrace talents and know that mistakes will be made in our own journey, yet grace, kindness, gratitude and reflecting outward in fulfilling life would be the greatest honor that I can give. To not do so, would be disrespecting all that I had from the past.

Would it not be cool to someday at the bookend of my date of death I saw my father (or significant person lost in our life) and they said…”so proud of you in how you lived after my death, how you move on and found room to add (not replace) in your heat what we had, your honor of what we had, and what I wanted for you was the greatest gift you could have given. Thank you for never forgetting!” That is the tribute I hope I can experience during my “Dash” and hopefully you can as well.

So in conclusion, celebrate our Birthdays, plan a funeral that celebrates, not death, but the DASH!

HOW SIGNIFICANT is “THANK YOU!”

A Simple Straight Forward and totally unedited Rambling –

thank you 2

As I have coffee getting ready  to be part of an event sponsored by Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K’s) in their annual Bike Give A Way, I am struck with this rush of thoughts that has prompted this totally unedited and spontaneous Rambling.

Over the years I have always attempted to do my best to appreciate the kindness of others and use two words that say a lot, yet often are said too casually and without realizing the depth and their significance…THANK YOU!

I am struck by the depth of what these two words really entail…KINDNESS, GRACE, APPRECATION and CARE. These two words not only express an appreciation for someone else’s acts and behavior, it also creates a BRAND of who I am and what is in my heart and the foundation of who I am , how I look and behave in embracing life and the future. JOY is a wonderful term for the byproduct of kindness and the words THANK YOU! JOY not just for myself, but for those around me and whom are the recipient of this simple jester of thanks.

I said recently, “Do not just listen to my words, but watch how I act”. It’s the actions of others that convey the Brand of a person not the eloquence of their words. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect; I have bruised my Brand, who has not on occasion? What is critical is what happens next and do I care enough to change…the answer is YES!

As I reflect on a dear friend who had a stroke and courageously and resiliently is battling to get back to a new normal, I have been struck, by my almost daily visits, the preciousness of life and how critical it is to focus on the future, learn from the past, embrace the greatness of life previously had and look forward to what lies ahead.

The past creates a foundation of wonder and blessings, yet letting the past hinder the greatness of friends, life, relationships and the wonders that lie ahead of us is a great loss and not honoring the great gifts that God has given us and cheating ourselves.

Let’s give THANKS and SAY THANK YOU from the heart and take the future on with gusto, wonder and grace…just few of my many THANK YOU’s;

• THANK YOU for my Past as I will embrace it with joy and loving memories
• THANK YOU for my strength to embrace my future journey and let my past support me, but not hinder me
• THANK YOU for the gifts that my father gave me and continues despite his death 15 years ago to embrace and take on my future with excitement, fear, trepidation and wonder
• THANK YOU for my feeling heart that gave me love and the wonders that love gave me and enabling me to love again
• THANK YOU for my mind that I take for granted as so many struggle with illness that I do not fully understand
• THANK YOU for my feelings and my sensitivity to those around me
• THANK YOU for blessings as my issues are so minor when I see what others are dealing
• THANK YOU for my ability to run, walk and feed myself as so many I see as I walk the halls of Sister Kenny watch me with desire
• THANK YOU for those in my life that have come and gone as I have gained from all who have touched my heart and soul
• THANK YOU for the passion to live for the future and not handicapped by the past as there is so much to live for and experience
• THANK YOU for today as tomorrow is not guaranteed
• THANK YOU for my desire to continue to grow, improve who I am
• THANK YOU for allowing God to touch my heart and soul and allowing faith to guide me
• THANK YOU for my parents who helped me understand the value of GRACE and KINDNESS

thank you 2
WHAT ARE YOURS????

You Can’t Be Amazing Without Practice

You Can’t Be Amazing Without Practice!
It’s not about you or me or being self-centered when you read the title of this Rambling, it’s about developing our God-given talents and sharing them with those around us.

This phrase: You can’t be amazing without practice! struck me when watching a 60 Minutes story of extraordinarily musically talented children, all from the same family from England. In fact, the oldest son (19), Sheku Kanneh-Mason (whose eldest sister is a world-renowned pianist) was asked to play at Prince Harry’s and Meghan’s wedding. What struck me about this story was when the youngest sister (~13), who is reportedly the most talented of them all, was asked if her extraordinary and amazing talents will surpass her brother’s, she simply said;

              “I don’t know, but I do know that you can’t be amazing without practice!”

Think about that: Are there people you know who you think, “They’re so talented, but they just didn’t achieve as much as they could have!” Have you ever thought that of yourself? Do you wonder if you have used the talents God has given you as fully as you could? I can honestly say I have “missed the boat” in some situations and stages of my life.

Redefining the Measures of Success
All that said, how do we define talent and maximizing it? Who determines whether we have or have not used our talents to their fullest? What is the measuring stick? Perhaps yard stickfor many of us, our family of origin is the barometer. Is our position or job title or compensation a measurement tool for our lives? Who or what determines our success when it comes to service, charity, mentoring, or some other pursuit that defines “success”?  There is no singular right answer as everyone bases what is right for them on the environment they live in. Others may disagree, but that’s what’s great about a democratic society—we have the right and freedom to have differing opinions and objectives as long as they are (arguably) expressed with civility and understanding, legally, and humanely. (It’s sad to say this is something that has become harder to come by in recent years).

I have been blessed and honored to assist (I mean ASSIST) in carrying the sword, with the talented staff at Augsburg University, on behalf of and in honor of my parents, in fulfilling the mission of the Strommen Center for Meaningful Work at Augsburg—a center named in tribute to my parents. I was often asked by Mom when the idea was developing, “What does meaningful work mean? I do not fully understand!”

The answer to that question is part of the theme of this Rambling. Augsburg strives to help students (who are spending an extraordinary amount of money to attend Augsburg) have a sense about how they will use their education, life experiences, interests, passions, gifts, and desires to help others. To help the students identify their talents, interests and develop the skills to maximize their ability to benefit others around them. The ultimate goal is to help students develop a life that, when they look back, they feel that they were enough, they did their best, they made difference, they became AMAZING!

We all have the ability to become AMAZING through practice. Not amazing for the purpose of self-centeredness, pride, or arrogance, but AMAZING in how we impact the lives of those around us and perhaps change lives. We do this through a commitment to excellence and developing personal traits that exhibit the kindness of our hearts. I would be remiss if I did not also emphasize:

I challenge myself  and encourage others to do the same – Do all of this at the same time as you fully embrace the wonders of life, having fun, and being grateful for what we have.

 

See the Butterfly

Welcome to season 4, the summer break was good, however it seems the summer went by way too fast, it was a good and engaging summer however. I hope the best has been with you all these summer months and your life has been filled with joy, engagement and meaningful  fulfillment.

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See the Butterfly – What makes a great book, article, blog, or conversation? It’s not the words, as words are a commodity that everyone has. Consider that there are zillions of words written and spoken. However, so often most of what is being said is not memorable—just words and conversation.

Conversation can allow us to engage with those we are with and makes our time together comfortable and fun. There are times when great communication is needed—great communication that allows people to look into each other’s soul, heart, and mind and say, “WOW” what an interesting person of substance, what an interesting perspective.

As an amateur writer who has written tens of thousands of words in my first three seasons of Ramblings, I can only hope that, on occasion, I get the order of my written words correct, an order that turns the “collection of words” into worthy communication. I pray that, on occasion, maybe something I’ve written moves your personal needle a little, you know, that I have made a small difference in your life.

Over the summer, I came across a quote in my reading and jotted it down as it struck a chord with my life and I believe it has the potential to impact the lives of others who take it seriously with intentional action. It impacted me and I thought it was worth a RAMBLE and worthy of personal thought and consideration.

“I hope you will go out, and let stories happen to you, that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter until they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
–Clarissa Pinkola Estés, (renowned American poet, author

You see, I am of the belief that we all have in our DNA “good meaningfulness,” that we have what it takes to “be enough” in a way that enables us to place our fingerprint on those around us. This DNA may not be recognized, or perhaps it has been pushed deep inside due to a tragedy in our lives that it is screaming to re-emerge, much like the Monarch butterfly from its cocoon. However, it takes intentionality and effort. (Do you doubt the effort needed? Watch the “hatching” of a Monarch butterfly and then say, “Wow was that effort worth it! Welcome back DNA, good to have you with me (again).”

 The quote above also brought to mind a card I had given with the theme of a butterfly. As easy as it is to look at the beauty of the Monarch, what struck me was the journey this monarch Butterflycreature went through to end up with its beauty and magnificence. Far too often we look at a situation, task, or person and all we see is the “caterpillar”; lacking real beauty, no grace, nothing of significance, easily disregarded, discouraged and a bit lost. However, its greatest attribute is what it can become! When we see it emerge from its chrysalis, we marvel at the transformation of the caterpillar into something extraordinary. It takes patience, persistence, and understanding.

I challenge myself and those around me to look for the emerging Monarchs in our midst and what they can become through patience and nurturing. The result can be amazing.

Back to Basics

greatest ShowmanHave you seen the movie, The Greatest Showman? There were many songs that touched me but the song “Never Enough” (https://binged.it/2tkIZFk ) is not only a reminder of a burden attributable to a family of origin, but also of the joy and blessing of knowing that life is not meant to be stagnate and needs to be constantly evolving and filled with learning and growth.

Speaking of learning, I’m privileged (and excited!) to work with the staff of Augsburg University  on moderating a series in the months ahead with the  Staff and Student Leadership group for Augsburg’s Step Up program and another with the Augsburg Men’s Soccer team during their fall pre-season. Each of these projects focus on lessons learnedthe principles found in Lessons Learned from a Third Grade Dropout by Rick Rigsby. The author shares some of the wisdom his father, who only completed the third grade, gave him about living a life of character and integrity, being responsible, the importance of serving others, and what it takes to be socially and professionally successful in life. I am convinced that the moderator will learn as much if not more than the participants. What a big win and lesson to learn in going outside our comfort zone.

As I’ve been preparing to do this work I’ve been questioning myself and wondering if I’m up to the challenge. I have asked myself “What do I have to offer?”, “ Do I have the intellectual capacity to provide the value these groups deserve?”, “ Can I pull this off with humility, vulnerability, honesty, and compassion?”—all principles Rick Rigsby talks about? There’s a statement I came across in the book that has helped me with answering these personal self-assessment questions:

“ . . .find a wise mentor. The mentor must have endured some setbacks, failures, and disappointments – for wisdom rarely is acquired without a storm. Remain with this person as long as you can. Learn, grow and prosper!”

I’ve come to realize that the answer to my questions is, YES! I can do this. We can all do far more than our self-talk tells us. Trust and Confidence in ourselves is critical, however easy to say, yet at times very hard to instill. That said, in my case,  I have lived through storms, gained amazing humility, and overcome the shame and guilt of failure. Considering all of that, I now know that yes, I am “enough.”

This book and the preparation for the classes have allowed me to think more intentionally about going “back to the basics” of life, the core values that are worthy of intentionally developing in (my) life. Here are some of the life principles I believe are worthy of discussion, debate, application, and integration into life: (As you read these, reflect on how you feel, how you react and if these traits are appropriate for our living a wholehearted and meaningful life going forward).

  • Accountability and expectations
  • Are we looking and developing a plan as to who we want to be!?
  • Responding to criticism, (try with an open mind and reaction maybe?)
  • Kindness – how does it look, how does it feel, how is kindness developed and how does it impact those around us?
  • Discipline
  • Boundaries
  • Responsibility
  • Commitment
  • Words or actions?
  • Building community
  • Helping ourselves and others
  • Doing a job right – commitment to excellence!
  • Hearing vs the Power of Listening
  • Character! What you do when no one is looking
  • Dependability
  • Appropriateness
  • Honesty, with ourselves and others
  • Authenticity – be true to yourself and to others
  • The Power “TO STAND TALL!”
  • Never, I mean Never Give Up!
  • Be joyful and positive as happiness is fleeting and volatile

 

 

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As I wind down my Ramblings for the summer months I find myself thinking about what the theme will  look like for this coming fall. As I go through notes on ideas and thoughts for future Ramblings, I am planning on my “Fall 2018 Series”  to center around some of the following themes. These are fun (at least I think so) and deeply thought provoking, each creating the potential for meaningful conversation with those in our lives:

  • Fascination with “Observations from Life” and my mentoring experiences
  • Are we “Out of Focus?”
  • Thank you for listening – I would rather have you actually absent than virtually absent
  • We need more than a living, we need a life, let’s talk about Living! Let’s talk about Kindness and its impact on life and those around us!
  • Are you a Tigger or Eyore?
  • Outsourcing life does not work!
  • Buying a car? Don’t drive it without looking under the hood!
  • You can’t be amazing without practice!
  • Avoiding confrontation is sharing in the guilt of a problem
  • Trust and the Thread of Life “the invisible thread”
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Hot fudge and the whipped cream of life

Have a great summer and I’ll look forward to connecting with you again in the fall!

 BOB

I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOU! – A TRIBUTE TO CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER

krauthammer photo

(this is spontaneous, unedited rambling, excuse structural deficiencies and hear the heart of the message)
It is sad to know that someone you never met, who is no longer is with us. Someone who will no longer add to my life, not just for his intellectual perspective on political landscape, but in my watching with incredible interest the manner in which he handled himself.

Charles Krauthammer was consistent in his deflecting accolades and praise, deflecting discussion as to himself and refocused on those around him.  His soft spoken manner, his unexpected humor, his grace in challenging others perspective is a hallmark trait worthy of emulating.

As I reflect on the life of Charles Krauthammer and the tributes that have flooded the airwaves, I am struck with this thought:

Intellectual brilliance should never be overshadowed by personal elegance, kindness, graciousness in listening to others opinions even though they maybe disagreeable.
We need to consistently and genuinely be intentional in our interest in others around us. This being done at the same time you are true to ourselves in expressing our opinion in a blunt, well thought out respectful manner. By not doing so is a betrayal to who we are! 

Differing opinion should not be confused with kindness, love, appreciation of perspective and deep appreciation and love for those around us.

Charles Krauthammer consistently wanted to know others life, how they grew up (family of origin you may say) as this helped to shape Krauthammer’s a deeper understanding of others perspective and who they where as a person. This keen interest in others added to Krauthammer’s  perspective, his thought and his wisdom.  What an amazing personal attribute to have in defining one’s life in how he lived a wholehearted life that he intentionally intended.

I hope that when the day comes that I am taking my final breaths on this earth that I too can say and honestly believe what Carl Krauthammer wrote earlier this month;

“I leave this life with no regrets,” he concludes in his letter. “It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”  Charles Krauthammer June 8, 2018

Charles Krauthammer had a giant intellectual capacity and insight that at the same time he possessed  humility, kindness and elegance that is seldom witnessed. Charles Krauthammer was so selfless in his interest in everything other than himself.  His soul, his commentary was sincere, honest and direct, however not in a manner  that was offensive. Krauthammer’s perspectives and commentary were filled with deep thought, often a touch of humor and worthy of consideration.

Krauthammer was direct, he was committed to telling you what he believed, what he learned,  Charles Krauthammer was REAL in every sense of the work! He consistently said that if you do not express with kindness and gentleness what you truly believe and feel is a betrayal of your life, not to mention those around you.

When asked  to speak with others who had experienced similar injuries that Charles Krauthammer experienced, he spoke directly, but with such great wisdom when he said…..(somewhat paraphrased),

“ learn to accept who you are now! Do not dwell on the past, but instead, focus on your life today and that your life has so much to offer for others around you. GO FOR IT!. embrace your talents and ability to impact others around you with gentleness, humility, grace and candor.”

I will feel a void as a result of the Death of Charles Krauthammer’s and his ongoing Krauthammer what mattersperspectives. I will honor him and will find the coming years fascinating as I commit to the next best thing to future earthly Krauthammer perspectives , to become a student on Charles Krauthammer, not  focusing on his politics, but focusing on how he lived his life. I will  start with this book.

Thank you Charles Krauthammer. You impacted my life, my perspectives and added to my life a model how to live going forward.

Your transparent, elegance in all aspects of your life will be sorely missed, but not forgotten

A Collection of Thoughts

The ThinkerShort Rambling Thoughts on: “Transformation of the Heart”, “Connecting the Dots” “Responsibility and Boundaries”, “Believe, Receive, Become”, “Try out the YES thing!”, “The Narcissist” and “I never got this far in my Dreams!”

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It’s not uncommon for me to struggle as I draft my “Ramblings” as the process is strictly an internal one without the benefit of discussion with anyone to help frame what I am attempting to articulate. Nor do I have the opportunity to really discuss in detail the subtleties of the Rambling to add additional color or substance. Sometimes I’m concerned that the written words  and thoughts could be misinterpreted (like texting is a bad way to communicate meaningful thought). I say this to acknowledge the deficiencies I find in my Ramblings.

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As I think about a few random topics, I’m reminded of this verse:

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart”. Ezekiel 36:26

 Thought #1: Transformation of the Heart There are two books I’ve come across that deals with the transformation of the heart. Both authors share their journey of moving to a place of faith in their lives. The first is the book (and subsequent movie) A Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel, a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, who chronicled his transformation from an atheist into a believer as he searched for historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the time, Strobel was an investigative journalist. The story includes a scene in which his editor tells him, “Do your job, do the research, follow the facts, write the story!” Strobel also recounts an interview he conducted with a forensic Doctor on the validity of Christ’s death on the cross when the Dr. siad, “Lee, you don’t want to see the truth do you?”

The second is The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important That Happens in Between by Gregory Koukl. A reviewer of the book said, Koukl “…started out thinking he was too smart to become a Christian and ended up giving his life for the defense of Christianity.”

Here’s where I’ll ask for latitude as I “Ramble” a bit on just a few of the thoughts that impacted me as I read and digested these books and other aspects of life and observed and experienced human behavior. 

Thought #2: Connecting the Dots: If you want to improve your life, try saying YES Living a scripted and planned out life can create unintended boundaries, leaving us nine dotswithin a “box” that more than likely inhibits discoveries. There’s a puzzle called the “The Nine Dots Problem” that tests your ability to “think outside the box;” to find solutions to a problem. The challenge is to connect all the dots using only four lines and without lifting your pen off the paper. Impossible you say? What you discover, is that in order to connect all the dots, in four lines without leaving the paper, your line has to travel outside the perceived “box” created by the dots. I am learning that we need to get outside the “nine dots” of life to discover what we do not know!

What could thinking outside the box mean in your life? Asking for help? Seeking out guidance from others? Praying for guidance and wisdom? As that editor told Lee Strobel, “…do the research, follow the facts, write the story!” When writing your life story would it not be fun to write the story with a life partner? To share the journey together?

Thought #3: Responsibility and Boundaries

it seems life is always handing us boundaries (or rules) to be aware of. How do you go outside the acceptable boundaries (maybe think outside the box), be willing to say YES to Yes, Noexploring or opening the door to new experiences and opportunities, to go outside your comfort zone and solidify a relationship with absolute commitment (something I failed miserably at in the past)?

On occasion, I hear this from people: Why does everything seem to have boundaries? Aren’t they too inhibiting? I am always a bit surprised with the question as without boundaries we are without identity, without a moral compass, without ethics, without trust in our relationships. Another aspect of boundaries is others feeling that if you do not agree with their “boundaries” or perhaps their perspective on an issue they get snarky, irrationally mad, or combative.

Whether it’s our personal or professional relationships, being respectful of boundaries (or respectfully pushing back on boundaries) can be an essential key to nurturing a meaningful relationship. So how do we develop the positive and meaningful qualities of good relationships? An in-depth response is beyond this Rambling, however, let me use these adjectives as an entry point: Communication, Patience, Vulnerability, Collaboration, Discovery, and saying and hearing this:

“THANK YOU FOR ACTIVELY LISTENING!”

I believe we must act responsibly with the freedoms we are given, to establish who we are and want to become, and to honor who our Father is. I believe we are meant to have control over ourselves and our decisions, and to lead a good life. We all know and have seen what happens when freedoms are misused. People can lose the compass that keeps them on a path worthy of honor and respect; they may lose self-control. They may lose touch with the meaningfulness of life. This can result in a wide variety of miseries and miscues when they lose sight of boundaries and responsibility.

Everyone, every relationship, every business needs to have a well-defined, articulated, and agreed upon set of boundaries and responsibilities. Without this, failure is destined to happen.

Without boundaries and responsibility, the “Narcissist is Born!” Have you seen it? I am sure you have. Those whose success (or self-belief of their personal success) leads them to believe the world revolves about them. This is not only naïve and narcissistic, but also shows ignorance of the Christian faith. We have a choice as to what our role is and how we see it, we are not the central figure, we are just part of the supporting cast, or perhaps a member of the audience in the story of life.

Thought #4: Believe, Receive, and Become These three little words are also powerful statements that can resonate in so many aspects of our physical and spiritual life. They can guide us on a journey that never really ends. We can never “become” a success in business or in our personal relationships, if we don’t have a deep inner belief in ourselves. We must also rely on our inner strength to guide us through the roller coaster of life and along the journey of “becoming” what we are capable of with the help of the one who created us and those who surround us.   

In 2012, after winning the Masters Golf Tournament, and accepting the famed green jacket in the Butler Cabin, an emotional Bubba Watson remarked, “I never got this far in my dreams!” What a remarkable statement. If you recall, Bubba Watson won his first Masters in a playoff with one of the more remarkable shots on the first hole of the playoff. I believe this was only possible because Bubba believed in himself, worked hard, and envisioned himself on that golf course one day. The sweet reward was accomplishing more than he dreamed.

I have come to believe that it is important to say YES to dreams, to embrace Believing, Receiving, Becoming in different aspects of our life as it is the path that gives us the opportunity to reach our true potential in life, faith, and relationships.

#4 – “Timeless and Silent Qualities”

This is the fourth and final Rambling in a four-part series of short articles of “dangling thoughts” you may be able to relate to. I hope they will be something you’ll want to ponder. I’m prepared for a variety of reactions including, “hogwash!” or “interesting!”. These topics have found themselves on the “notes app” of my iPhone over the past few months. I find the commonality of the themes interesting and the fact that they found themselves on my phone under the category of “Potential Rambling Topics!”

I recently attended an art show featuring a local artist, painter Leon Hushcha, and ran across a piece of art that was entitled, “The Kimono.” What really caught my attention was the artist’s statement, “Grace is Timeless and Silent.”

Three Great Attributes;  There are many great attributes to possess, I will ramble on three (3) of the many that help define who we are and how we live our lives: Grace, Honor, and Responsibility. In my opinion, these elements are timeless qualities—ways we can behave in a selfless manner. They manifest themselves in how we act and search for opportunities to be of value or service to others. They are part of the pool of qualities we should strive to develop and engrain into living in an intentional way.

To this day, despite having dealt effectively with my Fathers Death, I still have moments that I grieve his loss and long for those times we could talk to receive his counsel. I know I would be a more intense listener than I was 20 years ago. I am blessed, however, to still have my mother. At 94, she is remarkably vibrant, mentally sharp, and a bit of an energizer rabbit who is only hampered by arthritis which has dramatically limited her mobility. Despite this inconvenience, our weekly dinners remind me of her vibrancy, appreciation for the rich life she has had, and the honor and love she still has for my dad. I feel happy that she has a social network that helps her remain engaged in life.

My mom and I don’t always agree: I find at times the age difference creates frustrations and there are times I roll my eyes in disagreement or frustration over things she does not understand. HOWEVER, I am intentional about my attitude of Grace, Honor, and Responsibility. I allow her the grace to be who she is, I honor her as my mother, the person who brought me into this wonderful world and into a life that has blessed me. I honor her for who she is and for all the great traits she has and the love she exhibits to those around her, including her grandchildren and great grandchildren, some who she sees frequently, and others seldom if ever.

Mom has earned the right to be honored!

Finally, Responsibility, it is my turn to be responsible in helping her. It is my responsibility to remain in her life as a caretaker and someone she can rely upon in times of need. We all need to know that we have someone who “has our back” and will drop most anything to come and help. I feel blessed that I want, and can, have dinner with her most every week so we can visit and reminisce. There are nights I really do not want to go, but I always remain grounded in my commitment to honor her, demonstrate grace through action, and take on the responsibility that I have been given (and treasure).

Think about those in your life who deserve grace. Overlook the missteps we all make. Honor those you have in your life: It’s our responsibility. As my dad always used to say, “Someday we will not be able to do this!” Someday my mom will not be here and I do not want to ever have to say to myself, “I wish I had spent more time with Mom.”

“Someday we will not be able to do this!”