Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Check your blindspot

Lord, graciously keep me this night
I love the moon.  I may  have mentioned this before but the moon was something consistent that I could point out to Madison when we were apart.  I would call her before she went to bed and tell her to look out the window at the moon and know that I was looking at the very same the very same time.  The same percentage of the Moon will be illuminated no matter where on Earth you are.  This made us feel connected. 

There are so many different phases of the moon to be appreciated (eight to be exact).

In Western culture, we divide the lunar month into four primary and four intermediate Moon phases.  The Moon phases start with the invisible New Moon, while the first visible phase is the thin sliver of a Waxing Crescent Moon. Around a week later, half of the Moon’s surface is illuminated while the other half is in darkness at First Quarter Moon.

Fourteen-fifteen days into the cycle, we enjoy a Full Moon.  Before that, the illuminated part continues to grow into a Waxing Gibbous Moon, until we see the entire face of the Moon.

It then gradually shrinks into a Waning Gibbous Moon, and when it reaches Third Quarter, the opposite half from the First Quarter is illuminated. From there, it fades into the Waning Crescent Moon before it finally disappears from view again, only to reemerge and repeat this cycle over and over.  A literal circle of life.

I was driving home the other night when I enjoyed a glimpse of the Waning Crescent Moon.  The light from the moon seemed to indicate that what I was seeing was all there was.  And then I began to ponder....

How many times in life do we question (or worse yet believe) "this is all there is".  None of us were promised a life free from strife, challenges, loss.  In this way we are all equal.  No matter how educated, wealthy, smart, likable, etc.etc., no one gets a free pass.  And at times, the darkness can be overwhelming.

Just these past few days Terry and I enjoyed the almost full moon for two nights.  We talked about which night would reveal the moon in its full glory.  Anticipation.  And then, the big night arrived.  Cloud cover.  Completely.  We missed it.

Yet, we knew it was still there.  We didn't have to see it to appreciate and believe that somewhere, someone at that very moment, was enjoying the sight of the moon (super this time).

And it resonated with me, this is what faith is all about.  The type of faith that believes without seeing.  I am so grateful

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Like a Runaway train

Sometimes I am amazed at all I have accomplished.  We are talking lifetime achievements here, not this past week.  I have managed to graduate from college.  I have completed a masters degree program.  I have participated in numerous training programs that required a commitment of time and attention.  I have enjoyed a successful career, all while raising children.  Yet, at times, I am startled by my inability to stay in the "moment".

a whirlwind of activity
Oh sure, I am physically present, and initially I am even "on track" with whatever is going on.  However, I can be "miles down the road" before I slowly become aware that I am no longer "present and accounted for".

I wish I could say that this just happens when the topic discussed doesn't apply to me, or the meeting is going on ad nauseam,  but I find I can start out interested in something.....and then my thoughts are hijacked by whatever random ideas pop into my head.  Actually, it's more like a stealth infiltration.  I will totally switch gears, and am not even aware this has happened until I "surface" again.

I am a very visual person, so even in my head, I tend to map out plans, projects, lists, etc.  Sometimes I go so far as to "hearing" the conversations that will need to take place.  And yes, there are times when I vocally participate.  ( It surprises me, too.)

Part of the problem could be that I never feel content to do just one thing at any given time.  If I am watching TV, I am also catching up on my Yahtzee and Words with Friends game.  If it is not my turn, I have a "go-to" game that I play alone (Merged).

If I am knitting, I am listening to an Audible book.  If I am sewing, music is playing for my singing contribution.  Not so much a problem when I am at home, but if I am expected to sit still and "be present" for a meeting, I can promise you that after 15 - 20 minutes, I am doodling all over my notes and thinking about only God knows what.

During my 30 minute drive, if I am not on a scheduled phone call, I like to listen to my Audible (currently listening to Stephen King, "It" over 44 hours long.  I am in the last 3 hours.)   Lucky for me, I can hit rewind when I realize my mind has been busy piecing together my first quilting project, or going over what I need to get done for the day.

In summary, my brain is an untamed beast, the last Frontier, or my favorite entertainment.  What I know for sure is, I cannot hold a thought.  And now you know why.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Time Traveler
One of the things I rely on is time.  I like to see clocks and watches, hear chimes and bells.  My day is guided by a print-out of "time".  Time commitments and free time. Fun things and not so fun.  But, I like to know where I am supposed to be, at any given time.

Time is something we cannot buy or save.  It is simply allocated so....

One of my PET PEEVES, is disrespecting time.  What I mean by that (and have mentioned it before) is, if a designated time is given to start something, let's get going.  On the other side of that coin (or clock), when time is up, it's over.  In football, before the game is over, we have the two minute warning.  I like to think of myself as the two minute warning, since I may be guilty of gathering up my things when the 2 minute warning sounds in my head.

Time changes can be a challenge.  While we have can save daylight (as in savings time) we can't really change the time.  However, the experience was different for me recently as evidenced by our recent trip to Arizona.  Now, we could totally plan for the 2 hour difference (this was prior to day light savings time) and we adjusted accordingly.  We advised family that we were running a couple of hours behind which eliminated early morning calls, etc.  Then came the day we visited the Grand Canyon. 

We didn't realize we were in a time warp until it came time to check in for our flight the next day.  The alarm set on my phone rang at 3:00 p.m. and I quickly switched over to my Southwest App.  No check in available.  How can this be?  We are in Arizona (hence Arizona time) and are leaving at 3:00 pm.  After several failed attempts, and EVEN KNOWING that Madison was two hours AHEAD of us,  I sent her a text and asked if she could check us in.  Soon her message came back - it's not time yet.  Hmmm.  Such a conundrum.  I synchronized my watch with Terry's...same time.  Went back to the Southwest app and checked flight time....nothing changed.  By now it is 3:30 p.m.  Madison then texted that she was didn't think we needed to check in for another 30 minutes.  I asked the all important question....what time do you have?  BINGO.  She had 4:30 pm which meant regardless of what my watch, IPhone, Terry's Apple watch and IPhone said.....We did not know what time it really was.

Okay, so we waited.  And then about ten minutes later, I checked my watch and instead of 3:40 pm, it now said 2:40 pm.  Terry had the same thing.  I think we all know what this means.  Terry and I have officially been designated as time travelers (still not sure what direction we were going).  I wish I could say it stopped there.  Seriously, the next 20 minutes were 2:45 now 3:50 now 2:51 now 3:55....I think you get the drift.

Finally at 3:00 pm (or 4:00) but more importantly at 5:00 pm Central Standard time (AKA Madison time), we had the opportunity to check in.

That's when we lost our phone signal.  Sigh.

No worries - the happy ending was that Madison was still watching and got the job done.

Until next time,

your time traveler,

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sticks and Stones

Who remembers chanting these words (or a variation thereof) when called a name?   "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."   I wonder if we ever really believed it - or it was just what it was.  A handy comeback.

And even as we get older (and realize how much words matter...and hurt), we still tell others (even our kids) to "buck up"; "what they call you says more about them then you"... and so it goes.  And the words still hurt. 

Many people hide behind the statement "I am just stating a fact."  MANY years ago, I started telling my kids "just because something is true, doesn't mean it needs to be said."   Given the explosion of false news and "facts", now I say "just because something is said, doesn't make it true"!  Both can apply.

When I think of all the subjective words we use (and represent as gospel), I am embarrassed.  And it seems that now, more than ever, if we use a word to describe someone, that is all they become.  And we all are so much more than just a word.  Yet the more we focus on a word, the more that is only what we see.

Word(s) can be so heavy.
An example that I have witnessed (and certainly been guilty of myself) is how we describe our kids or grand kids, to others.  I have noticed over the years, the word(s) we apply, become the personalities we accept. (expect?)  So now words become labels and anything "less than" could be cause of disappointment.  If you have a (grand)child that you always label as smart, when they confront something that they might not do as well in, are they now stupid?  Lazy?  Irresponsible? 

What about your child/friend/spouse with a sunny disposition?  Are they never allowed to have a bad day? 

Of course not.  Yet our minds tend to quickly arrive at the conclusion "what you see is all there is." 

The other day Terry and I were having a conversation with another couple about the City of Austin.  Someone mentioned a negative (subjective) about the city which started the discussion.  It would have been easy to focus on that one aspect but that day, I felt compelled to list all the things we LOVE about Austin.   The entire conversation ended on a more positive note.

What if we explored all aspects...of people, of situations......OF EVERYTHING, before we reached a conclusion?   And once we reach a conclusion, what if we allowed a reassessment from time to time?  And were open to change?

Am I crazy?  (or so much more)

Until next time,

your pal,


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We do this everyday!

What do we do everyday - no matter our age, our gender, our station in get the drift?  HINT:  I did this many times today already.  And will continue to do this all day long.

No, it's not breathe (although that is a necessity of our being).  It's about decisions.  Decisions take many forms and begin either when we wake up or shortly thereafter.  Some of our decisions effect the future and some determine how we view the past.

Decisions can be automatic, bad, good, easy, indifferent, life changing (and so much more).  Yet it seems there are times when we pay no more attention to our decisions than we do to our breathing.  Why do you think that is?

It is your decision,  Make the best one!
I believe if I were asked, I would state that my intention is to make the BEST decision, every time.  And I suspect y'all would feel the same way.  If that is our intention, then why don't we do it?

Example:  Yesterday, after minimal deliberation, I decided to set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. this morning.  Since I needed to be ready to go by 7:00 a.m., this seemed like a good decision.  What I did not factor in was the number of times I would feel compelled to hit the "snooze" button before actually getting up.  While this wasn't a life changing factor, it did have me "picking up the pace" because I didn't actually get up until 6:20 a.m.  Then, when I was looking at breakfast options, I made the BEST decision since I went for the oatmeal versus all the high carb, high calorie options that were also available.  Two decisions that would impact my day before 7:30 a.m.  And I didn't even talk about the decisions on what to wear, how to respond to emails, etc.

Unfortunately, I don't always make the BEST decisions on eating choices (or life).  And when this happens, there are always consequences, some of which can be life changing.

It seems when confronted with a decision, we (speaking generally here-don't put this shoe on unless it fits) tend to think in terms of black and white, right or wrong, this or that.  Yet MANY times, we have the opportunity to think of different alternatives, we just don't.  We also fail to factor the bias inherent in all of us regarding any particular decision.  I like to say we all arrive at a situation wearing our own pair of shoes, and we change shoes all the time. 

At times, we (still general) tend to judge our decisions based on outcome.  This is giving our 20-20 hindsight full credit and we all know it contains information we might not have had when the decision was being made.  If we decide to ignore the speed limit and don't get a ticket, does that now make speeding a good decision?  Of course not.  All it makes us is lucky.  The next time the outcome may be different.

Right now our world is divided on many fronts.  And when I read about all the things where we differ, it seems each side is all or nothing.  And as we arrive at our decision, we arrive with the shoes WE are wearing at that point in time.

I don't know about you, but I have always preferred options.  This will not change for me.

Starting tomorrow, I will set my alarm for 5:30 am,  to allow for my snoozing.  It doesn't have to be get up or be late.  We need to look for options.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Don't cry because it's over

One myth I believed when I was younger (and not really that much younger) was this.  As you age, the only thing that changes is your appearance.  BAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA.

For the days when I still had a filter, I am thankful!
If you don't laugh, you might cry.  I have found that there are many opportunities for modification as we get older. Now, please understand, I still believe that getting older is a blessing, I am just now able to more accurately identify what is first to go.

Contrary to popular belief, hearing is NOT the first thing. At least not for me.  Recently, I have noticed that in quick succession, I have lost both tolerance and my filter. Whoops.

Tolerance is a much used word these days, and something many people strive to develop.  So how can it be that I have lost it?  Let's look at the definition.

Tolerance can be the capacity to endure pain or hardship.  I still solidly support that definition.  How about "the sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practises differing from or conflicting with one;s own"?    I am very tolerant of those difference from me - whatever the difference may be.  We are all different.  Finally, tolerance can be the act of allowing something  - and herein lies the rub.

The act of allowing something...I have some specific areas of concern.  My fuse is considerably shorter as it applies to stupidity (always struggled with that one), complaining (in the big picture of things, we have so much, and seriously, what does it change?), rudeness (I will call you out), the "gimme gimme" attitude (there is always something we can do), lying (again, now that I am missing my filter....), habitual tardiness (disrespectful), being disrespectful, (wow) and this list is not all inclusive.

Some days, aggressive drivers might make the list (depends on how many of the above were experienced prior to my driving experience).  Did I mention people who just talk to hear their own voice?  And it's generally those same people who ask for information, only to follow up with their own experience (bigger, better, greater, faster, more expensive,.....)

Wait, what about those who think nothing is good enough (until it is their own idea?)  I am on a roll now.

I just remembered how I have no tolerance for ungratefulness, for entitlement, for greediness of all things.

Yet, I would not consider myself an "intolerant" person.  Maybe up to this point, I have allowed those things to happen, considered them "noise" in the background.  So instead of losing my hearing, I am really listening now.  Maybe I am still very tolerant (big picture).  I am just now more sensitive to how it can be applied.

But the filter....GONE!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

There is always something to be done.

Next in my Dr. Seuss series
When I was first promoted to a leadership role, I really began to appreciate the nuances in every day language.  The difference between "You can't do that, can you?" versus "Tell me what you can do" invite entirely different responses....all driven by attitude.

When I replaced the word "challenge" with "opportunity", my view of whatever was before me became possible.  Too often we start with negative words or connotations at the beginning of a task.  And don't get me wrong, it's so easy to do.  But a person can become a prisoner if they focus on "I can't do _____."

Right now in Texas, the effects of Hurricane Harvey are being felt by over 30 counties (already being declared a state of disaster) with over 30,000 individuals and displaced families being housed in shelters.  That number will continue to grow as more rain moves into the affected areas, causing additional flooding, levees giving way and failing infrastructure.  It seems overwhelming.

And that is where we all come in.  All of us!  While we may be sitting "high and dry", we cannot remain unaffected by the plight that has struck our friends, our neighbors, our family of man.

The Red Cross is in full swing, committing 100% of all donations to these victims.  Whether it is $10 or $100, every dollar will be needed.  While churches and community centers in the affected areas are opening their doors to house those in need, churches and communities around the country are gathering socks, diapers, clothing, water....everything.  Because everything is needed.

Many businesses are donating a percentage of profits for a product, or on a given day, to support the relief efforts.  You can be a part of that by ordering a t-shirt or going to a restaurant on that specific day.

Can you give blood?  The supply situation is critical.  Now is the time.  Look for local drives being held in your area.

I have had many conversations about this dire situation, and the feeling of helplessness by so many of us is pervasive.

But there is always something you can do.  And always something to be done.

I will start with prayer.

Until next time,

your pal,

Check your blindspot

Lord, graciously keep me this night I love the moon.  I may  have mentioned this before but the moon was something consistent that I cou...