Every Piece of Paper Has Two Sides – Love This Life and Learn to Dance in the Rain by Being REAL!

dancing in the rain

I love this life and want to dance in the rain of conflict, challenge, and growth, to meet conflict head on as opposed to pretending it is not happening, and to deal with the rain of life as it occurs as opposed to waiting for the storm and rain to pass.

While this is one of my more transparent Ramblings, it is not just about me. I hope it tells a personal story that causes you to stop and reflect on anything that resonates with you. If it does, fantastic. This Rambling was prompted by some thoughts that came to me recently as I was reading A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron. One of the book’s messages is that all creatures are born with a purpose.

I am learning to be more comfortable with the idea of “Say what you mean and mean what you say!” although I know this way of thinking may not be very Norwegian of me. Being purposeful about what you say (and do!) is about getting off the merry-go-round of just staying within the protective cradle of what is known. It’s about venturing, with purpose, into the unknown deeper aspects of our spiritual life while never forgetting to embrace our earthly life with an attitude of gratitude, passion, romance, fun, adventure, wonder, thanksgiving, and purpose.

Just as every piece of paper has two sides, there are two sides to our lives—what is seen on the outside and what is at our core. I hope I’m not the only one who spends time looking inward to discover and refine how I want both sides of my life (the exterior and interior) to be grounded and compatible in how they look, feel, and behave. I am committed to being authentic and having an internal core that has substance.

There are so many analogies floating through my thoughts that make me smile as I type out what was initially put down on paper for this Rambling. My Ramblings always start out with a thought for the subject and perhaps a title, much like the title for a book. I use the initial title not only as imagery but motivation for what is written in the Rambling. Often what I end up writing is not consistent with the initial title. It is like turning a piece of paper over to discover what was really important.

I may change the title in the same manner that I change my perspective on life.

I often change the title of my Ramblings to better match and reflect the maturing content. This morning as I hit spell check, backspaced to make corrections, and edited things I wasn’t happy with or didn’t like the flow of, and I reflected on what I wanted to convey,  it struck me that the writing process is like life: changing (backspace, delete, edit), developing (adding and learning with the help of an editor or others), and maturing (willing to change) can be fun and exciting.

In the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge was totally unaware of how he was behaving, how he was being perceived, and how what was important to him was so misaligned. I can honestly say that in the fairly recent past, I too was naïve and had misjudged how I was being received and perceived. My overly-armored and guarded core had drastically affected relationships and my ability to be real or authentic. Change is so hard, yet I am a thankful example that change is possible if it is really important to you.

There two statements I learned from my involvement with the Wilson Learning Company years ago, “People change but seldom!” (I am one of the seldom!), and people only do things for their reason, not someone else’s! (There have been many personal reasons I have changed.)

Back to Scrooge: At the end of the story, Scrooge was awakened and his life transformed by the dreams and vision brought to him by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. To a far lesser degree, I too have been awakened and transformed by experiences of the past and present. The future is important to me particularly as I work to make both sides of my “paper” complement one another: the visible (behavior) and the core (strong beliefs).

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi        (Thank you Jim H. for introducing me to this quote!)

 My Ramblings have been like an evolving and ever-changing mirror of how I view myself, or better stated, how the journey of life is manifesting itself within me (as it does for all of us). I have discovered that as with my Ramblings, I have become so very picky about things in my life—I have learned that there are certain non-negotiables.

I challenge you (as well as myself) to discover who you are at your core, and to believe and be comfortable in what you discover, to live intentionally with this heartfelt belief, to shed the shield in being someone you are not, and to stop worrying about what others think (as long as who you are is ethical and kind, and what you do and say comes from the heart), much like dancing (not worrying about what others might think!).

We should learn to embrace a joyful, wholehearted, selfless, and grateful life.

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Lessons in Extraordinary Courage The White Helmets

How can we, in our own simple way, be a WHITE HELMET?

As I write this rather emotional Rambling, I must acknowledge that I feel very blessed with my life, and I want to continue to embrace it with fun, passion, and life experiences. I want to share with friends and, hopefully, a significant other, all the wonders of life’s blessings. However, there are two pieces of life’s puzzle that I have come to believe are critical: puzzelselfless giving and faith. Selfless giving is the puzzle piece that is at the core of this Rambling.

If we take a deep and hard look at what goes on around us we will find that the human spirit is amazing. I am willing to wager that the vast majority of those that read these Ramblings live in a world that is sheltered, insulated, and immune to the deep tragedies and struggles that permeate the world we live in. Here’s what I mean: We know our lives are reasonably good. We know we have varying levels of success. I ask myself and you, my readers, “Do we tend to take this for granted?” Perhaps others in our circle live in similar worlds and have similar blessings which we have learned to accept as the norm. (Not that we don’t feel lucky or fortunate, but it just seems the norm.)

We read about the starving children of Africa; we hear of the tragedy and struggles of the people in Haiti; we read of the unemployed, the homeless, and those who struggle with chemical dependency and say to ourselves, “That is so sad; that is too bad; how horrific that must be.” While we may have compassion, we also may have little true understanding as our own world is so detached from the reality of the outside world.

I can relate to this. As I sit at the cabin overlooking the lake, I sometimes catch myself worrying about “Bob stuff” I feel some uneasiness, stress, or uncertainty. All my issues are based on my world of relationships and life and have no relation to how blessed I really am.

What does it take to not only embrace our own blessed life, but also have the compassion, heart, and soul to be more selfless in doing our part? Maybe that 1% effort will be life changing, not just to ourselves, but more importantly, to someone we touch.

Let me share with you a story of an amazing group of citizens in Aleppo, Syria called “THE WHITE HELMETS” that illustrates this potential.

We’ve heard and read about the horrific bombing and destruction that continues in Aleppo, Syria and other towns and villages of that country. We have witnessed scenes of the destruction, but have we really felt and seen the horror of the innocent people who are the victims?

There is a group of organized citizens whose mission, out of compassion for their fellow man, is to track the falling bombs, wait for them to hit, and then, Doan their WHITE HELMETS and rush to the scene to rescue or retrieve those who are trapped, injured, or killed. In one documented event, after 16 -18 hours of grueling and non-stop efforts, the White Helmets were exhausted and ready to call it a day after finding no additional signs or sounds of life. As they were about to leave they heard the faint sound of a baby’s cry. They froze in place, in silence, with their helmet lights on to see if there really was life still buried somewhere in the unimaginable rubble. They quickly realized that it wasn’t their imagination, the baby’s cry was real. There was still a life waiting to be rescued.

With renewed hope, energy, and enthusiasm the White Helmets found a 6-week-old baby, unharmed, sheltered in a small cave of ruble and debris. A White Helmet pulled the crying child to safety, holding it tightly in his arms as if it were his own as tears rolled down hisWhitel Helmets check and the cheeks of his fellow rescuers. They embraced in the joy that their efforts had made a dramatic difference and that this child will now have a chance to grow up. Who knows what may be possible? Perhaps this child will one day be a peace maker for Syria? Who knows what impact that child will have on others? What we do know is that without the dedication of the White Helmets, those selfless citizens who risk their lives to save the lives of others, that child’s potential would never have a chance.

Over the course of three years, approximately 180 dedicated White Helmets have lost their lives working to rescue an estimated 58,000 fellow citizens.

The example of the White Helmets leads me to a few questions:

  • What are we doing as blessed individuals to act as White Helmets in our own communities and in the world?
  • What are we doing to make a real difference?
  • What are we doing to share our God-given talents, gifts, blessings, and compassion to those around us?

How can we, in our own simple way, be a WHITE HELMET?

Ratio of Birth to Death is One to One!

No one gets off this planet alive—one of the guarantees life gives us is that it ends with death! (Rather profound of me, isn’t it?) However as vibrant, loving, and caring people we have a choice: As the book, Five Days at Memorial states in the final sentence, “. . . we have the luxury to prepare and resolve how we wish to make decisions!” What decisions are you going to make? Let me challenge you to read on. . .

I was recently reading about the 2005 disaster of Hurricane Katrina and how it decimated New Orleans. This natural disaster caused horrific conditions and chaos at the Memorialfive-days-at-memorial Medical Center in downtown New Orleans. The book, Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, describes the life and death decisions the hospital’s medical staff had to make including who would live and who would die.

As I read the book I was struck with how fragile life is, the amazing dedication of the medical community, and the tough yet fragile nature of the human spirit during life changing decisions.

What really has stayed with me was the statement: “The Ratio of Birth to Death is One to One!” which has raised some interesting questions:

  • Why are Americans so unprepared for death when it occurs?
  • Generally, why do we celebrate every milestone of life except death?
  • Why does everyone want to rush to the miracle of birth yet shy away from the reality of death?

I have a few thoughts on these questions that I will frame with another series of questions that would be fun to discuss, debate, and learn from (and with) others:

  • Is it fear of the unknown?
  • Is it a total lack of belief in God and eternal life?
  • Is it a disappointment that a “wholehearted life” was not lived?
  • Is it that fascination with the wonders of the world and those within it were not a priority?
  • Is it because life has been filled with regrets and too many “I should haves”?
  • Are we disappointed that we did not stretch outside our comfort zone?
  • Is it that we embrace the miracle of life, yet do not understand the reality of death?
  • Is it that we see birth (new life) as “sweet” and “beautiful” yet death can be so painful and ugly?
  • Is it the loss of a loved one and fear of loneliness?
  • Or ???

I have many thoughts and reactions to these questions, yet to ramble in a vacuum on these seems to me a bit too self-centered as it is not about Bob, but about those we choose to live and share our lives with.

“Because I love this life,I know I shall love death as well” – Ravindranath Tagore

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Take this short Ramble as a challenge to all of us, me included, to embrace life and to honor and rejoice in death in the same manner we do in reading the last chapter of a great book, by being thankful for the time spent, for the insight it gave us, for the value it added to our lives and how we impacted others.

I invite you to go back and re-read my previous Rambling blog post, “Welcome to the Rest of your Life.”

Here is to LIFE and DEATH