Living by Fear Living by Faith

In an effort to expand my abilities as a life coach, I am currently taking several continuing education courses.  One particular lecture has me thinking.  Do I live by fear or do I live by faith?

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Disappointment and Anger

 


Is there some emotion or response I can grab hold of to fill the gap between feeling disappointed and feeling angry?  I am not yet angry at the lack of principled leadership in organizations such as government and faith-based communities.  I am, however, more than disappointed.  I don’t know how to define my unease or how to resolve my disappointment.  Without some potential remedy, I am concerned that anger may result.

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Saturday With My Wife

A quick note:  Here’s a  bonus post to tide you over, my loyal readers and subscribers, until Part Two of my three part series arrives.  My multi-part series recalls my time working on an oil rig in the North Sea.  Part Two will be posted January 17, 2018.  Enjoy.
Saturday With My Wife

Most every Saturday begins with the same basic decision – should my wife and I go out for breakfast, brunch, or a late lunch?

The answer to this seemingly simple question depends on several factors:  1) what time my wife and I finally get out of bed, 2) how much time the latest sleeper needs to get ready to hop in the car, 3) what other meals will we be having later on in the day, and 4) where do we want to go to eat.

Today, we were both ready to go by 10:30 am.  I specifically voiced my preferred meal choice, “I want breakfast!”  It’s good to voice an opinion from time to time.  After a brief discussion and eventual concurrence with my choice of meals, my wife and I traveled to one of our favorite breakfast spots.  Since it was a favorite spot, we decided on our breakfast choices, even before we entered the restaurant.  Today, the breakfast menu would be superfluous.

This is the point in the story when the day took an unexpected turn.

My wife ordered her usual breakfast without ever really considering the other options available to her if she had consulted the breakfast menu.  When it was my time to place my order, I hesitated.  My usual breakfast sounded good in the abstract, but now, with the waitress standing inches from me, I quickly glanced once more at the menu.  From deep within the chores to which my active mind was attending, my breakfast order surfaced.

I ordered something new from the menu.

My next words to the waitress must have sounded like some far off obscure language to her.  I could see she was already writing down my order from memory.  Then she heard my order.  Our waitress turned pale and quite perceptibly, rocked back on her heels.  She did not expect one of her regular customers to willy-nilly change  his usual breakfast order.  She was stunned and she asked me if I was sure of my order.  Casually I said, “Life without whimsy and serendipity is hardly worth living.”  I don’t think she grasped what I had said.  She turned and hurried towards the kitchen where I assumed she entered our orders.

It turns out she was so obviously unnerved by the unexpected change in my order that in communicating my wife’s order to the short order cook, my wife’s selection of a dry biscuit with her breakfast came to the table covered in sausage gravy.  For some inexplicable reason, my wife’s aversion to sausage gravy is pathologic.  Now it was her turn to become pale and unstable as she twisted in her seat, following a similar reaction I had recently observed in our waitress’ demeanor.

The plate that held my wife’s breakfast was immediately removed and after a brief absence, a new plate of food was delivered to my wife, with biscuits sans sausage gravy.  Then my breakfast was served. Everything I had ordered was just as it should have been, just like the photo in the menu advertised.

My new breakfast selection was even better than I had convinced myself it would be.  I did not let on the degree of happiness and contentment I felt.  It would have been insensitive of me to acknowledge what a great breakfast I was having,  while at the same time my wife was forced to remember how the sausage gravy poured over her biscuits had unnerved her.  No enlightened or sensitive spouse would ever cross that boundary of careless and wreckless thought.

We finished our meal.  The check arrived.  Since we are regular customers, I knew our breakfast bill would be about $25.00 before the tip.  The total of the bill this morning was, however, $34.95 before the tip.  When I finally got the attention of our waitress, she discovered she had charged my wife twice for her breakfast – once for the original order, complete with sausage gravy and biscuits, and then again the same order, but minus the sausage gravy.

Sometimes one has to make a stand.

As loyal repeat customers, I politely but firmly asked for an adjustment to the bill due to the mistake in my wife’s breakfast order.  I did not in any way assign blame for the inaccuracy of the order.  You see, if I blamed my wife, the rest of the day would have been consumed by thawing the coolness  arising from the distance that had come between us.  If I blamed the waitress, God knows what she might do to our orders the next time we came in for breakfast, brunch or a late lunch.  I would have been afraid to order eggs benedict for fear of what might replace the hollandaise sauce.

I  simply asked if there would be any way that the second charge for my wife’s breakfast might be rescinded.  The waitress disappeared into the kitchen.  We heard a dish crash to the floor or perhaps against a kitchen wall.  The waitress returned with a corrected bill closer to the $25.00 I was expecting.

As I paid the bill at the cashier’s desk she asked me two questions: 1) how was everything and 2) did I want to include a tip?  Here is an insight into the shallowness of my character.  Wanting to return to this restaurant in the future, I hesitated before I answered the cashier’s questions.

“Yes, everything was fine as usual, great service, great food, great value and yes, I would like to leave not just my usual 20% tip but the suggested 22% that’s printed on the bill.”  My wife looked at me as if I had just told the greatest lie the world had ever known.  She turned and left the restaurant, leaving me there alone with my ever growing sense of shame for playing fast and loose with the truth.

It really doesn’t matter how the rest of the day turned out, does it?  This whole incident would never have happened if I had slept just a bit later and we ended up having a late lunch.  To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin – early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and a fool if he asks his wife, “honey, what’s for dinner?”

 

 

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Debriefing A Life

First of all Happy New Year!

I am assuming most of you will be reading this just before or just after 2017 draws to a close and 2018 arrives on the scene.  For some reason, this year’s transition is a particularly introspective event for me.  I am wondering about life and I am wandering through my thoughts concerning where I have been and where I might end up during the next 365 days.

Here are some issues I am considering, vis a vis, how I have handled myself in the past and what I have learned that may affect future interactions during 2018.

My wish/prayer/hope for each of you is that as you skim this post, you will give yourself time to sit down and consider your own review of the past 365 days.  Give yourself this present.  Sit down, listen to some favorite music, drink some favorite beverage, pull out a journal, just stop and slow down.

To be honest, the world has seemed particularly crazy this year.

I really want to make sense of how this year has warped me or challenged me.  I don’t want to conclude I  have just survived this year.  I want to have survived it and confronted it.  So here is what I have been asking myself.

  1.  What one thing this past year  has brought me a true sense of peace, hope, or joy?
  2. What  one thing has been a particularly difficult challenge for me?  In fact, what one thing has happened this year that has shaken me to the core of all that I hold dear – that has exposed my foundational values?
  3. Of whom have I asked forgiveness and for what offense?  Did I learn a lesson from that act that will affect the way I interact with folks during this next year?
  4. For loyal readers of this blog, you know I believe “every life should have a noble purpose.”  Did I discover and respond to something noble this past year?  Did it give me the courage and/or wisdom to consider a new purpose for 2018?
  5. Where did I travel, whom did I meet, what did I see that provided me with a new life lesson?
  6. How much time did I spend dealing with nostalgia, melancholy, and despair?
  7. How much time have I spent in hope – short term and long term hope?
  8. Have I fully attended to issues of mind, body, and spirit this past year?  What are my plans for 2018?

If you have hung in and read this far, I thank you.  I realize that you have committed about five minutes so far and I ought to be offering you some reward or gesture of thanks for your valuable time.

Here goes – to quote A Tale of Two Cities,  “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

During this year, enough has happened to significantly call into question my deeply held belief that in the long run good wins out.  My faith in the power and promise of hope has been shaken to its core.  The basic foundation of my life has been exposed.  Several times this year I have looked into the psychic abyss.

But this one thought kept coming back in the times of my worst angst. The short term must be fully embraced if there is any hope for long term happiness.  Suffering in fear is injustice.  Suffering in the pursuit of that which helps ease the turmoil of another person’s life is time well spent.  There is an agenda, a plan that supersedes all other plans.  It fits into the harmony of the universe.  Until a person finds that agenda, they can know no real peace or joy.

Certainly you and I can recreate some unique version of get up, eat, go to work, interact with others, eat and go to bed, but after a short time we sense that’s not enough.  I guarantee no amount of accumulated “stuff” will ever satisfy our lives.  You and I will always be looking for diversions to temporarily bring relief from the routines of our own “unique”  agendas.  We don’t dream big enough to bring us real success or purpose.

So we need an intentional process that begins with items 1-8 from above.
Here’s your reward for staying the course.

Do this in 2018, and I guarantee the year will fly by.  Devote yourself to someone.  What I mean is this – intentionally choose a person with whom you will interact in the following way.  During this next year, you will put the needs of your intentionally selected person before your own.  On a daily basis you will develop  opportunities and strategies to offer your person constant affirmation and encouragement.  You will only seek their well being and help them discover how they might best live out their perfect idea of a great life in the next year.

In short, this year, make a new best friend.  Not an acquaintance, not a shopping buddy, but a fully functioning new friend based on your utmost care for them.  In short, sacrifice  your time, your talent, and your treasure for the benefit of one new friend.  Make his or her welfare the most important purpose in your life.

One last thing – if you are single this may be easier than if you are living with another person.  Let me suggest before you begin this endeavor you discuss this exercise with your partner.  Your partner may wonder why they aren’t the object of the  challenge.

This will be tough because as we get older we don’t generally make new best friends.  Unfortunately we don’t always treat our old friends/partners with this level of sacrifice or intentionality.  Just keep this in mind.

Let me know how that  goes.

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Waiting Patiently, Vanishing Hope

“The key to everything is patience.  You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.” (Arnold H. Glasow 1905-1998)

 

On occasion, an active imagination is more a curse than a blessing. For folks with active minds, waiting patiently results in conjuring up too many potential next steps.  We let our minds lead us into places we would not go if we did not have to wait patiently.

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Seven Suggestions for Success

If these seven suggestions really could bring great success, why would I be writing this post instead of sipping Pimm’s Cup on a sail boat in the Mediterranean?  Just in case you make better use of these suggestions, send me an email describing your success.

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So That’s Why

It’s time I offered something practical for you to try.  Up to this point, many of my blog posts have offered you, my readers, unsolicited groupings of words.  Sometimes those words did help or comfort or confuse, but of what use were they really?  So it’s time to offer you some intentionally formed words to ponder.

 

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An Old Man

Today I realized I had become an old man.  It wasn’t so much my age, although realizing my birthday was fast approaching had forced me to admit more years had passed than were to come.  Suddenly becoming an old man wasn’t just a bad attitude, although my attitude had suddenly taken a turn towards melancholy and nostalgia that was a bit unhealthy.

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Struggling With Hope

Some of my best days are days in which I struggle.  Sometimes the struggle is physical, sometimes spiritual, but always the struggle screws with my understanding of myself and others.

 

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Any World I’m Welcome To

I realize that my friends who are sticklers for proper grammar will look askance at the title of this new post.  The title is part of a lyric from a song written by Steely Dan.  The whole line is, “any world I’m welcome to is better than the one I come from.”  Still grammatically unsatisfactory to some of my friends.  Alas, I know I am in the wrong, but I can’t help myself.  Grammar is not, however, the point of this post.

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