Whoa …


“Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Sometimes words cannot describe all the colors, shapes, and intensity of one sunset …

Luckily, everyone in the civilized world,including me,  has a camera ready at any given moment to capture what we experience … or at least a version of it.

… and yet, how many other people had this same beautiful and inspiring image available to them, but did not see it?

As the wise master above suggests, sometimes the best thing we do is to notice … Which requires that we pay attention, look around, stop being busy, and become aware over a period of time of where we are and what is happening around us.  

… Not as easy as one might think.

If the thought of doing this instead of working makes you feel uncomfortable, you have just discovered a very good reason to do exactly that.

So what are you going to notice today?

Trying to slow down and pay more attention in the Heartland ….

John

God, Grant Me The Rest of the Story …


Reinhold Niebuhr PDMost of us know this part:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Reinhold Niebuhr‘s lovely and concise guide to living has helped countless people successfully navigate transformational change in their lives.  I have used this very phrase both personally and professionally for decades.

Many of us have repeatedly sought comfort from these words of late in response to events both close and far away.

The phrasing is so elegant, the words are easy to remember and say, and everything seems  just so “right”.

How many of us have read the entire prayer, which introduces a few more ideas?

“Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.”

Complete prayer from AchieveBalance.com.

Several phrases worthy of note here:

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace”

Oh, you mean all my troubles will not disappear if I just choose wisely and trust?   This seems to say that we must endure hardships along the way and I see nothing about lifting the weight from our hearts or taking away that hardship.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

This seems to show that this is much more about acceptance than about change.   Taking things as they are might mean we may need to realize that evil exists and will continue to exist, that humanity is fully capable of horrific acts individually and in groups, and that positive thinking alone may not cut it.

This sentence also includes the lovely phrase “not as I would have it”, which neatly identifies a major psychological stumbling block for many of us, me included.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life

Ahem … the word “reasonably” just jumps out at you, doesn’t it?

Not “supremely“, “completely“, or “absolutely” … just “reasonably“.

Apparently, happiness is not an absolute, but a quality, which can increase or decrease.  we may need to change that perennial questionAre you happy? to a more, dare I say reasonable question ofHow happy are you at this moment?

Side Note:  Whether Niebuhr actually authored this prayer is in some dispute, but here is the original version of the well-known part:

Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.”

Now you have some other things to consider next time you utter those well-known words.

Begrudgingly thanking Paul Harvey for the inspiration for the title of this post in the Heartland ….

John

Random Thoughts Around Where We End Up …


“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I need to be.”

via The Mankind Project on Facebook

If true, this is awesome. If just wishful thinking, it’s still comforting. Either way, it’s better than beating yourself up because you are not where you thought you might be today.

The Mankind Project is my new favorite resources group for men’s growth and development.   These are harder to find than those for women, it seems.  We guys lag in taking care of our emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs.   

I have been engaged in a fair amount of discussions of late that center around how things in life work out differently than we expect.  Yep:)

A group I know divides roughly along generational lines.   The older members of the group cannot understand why things cannot continue as they have been for most of their lives.  They were raised with distinct expectations and measures.  For most of their lives, things have worked pretty much as expected.

They had a road map and do not understand why the map no longer shows them how and where to go.

The middle group (Boomers) are more shell-shocked by what seems endless change and upending of the expectations passed on to them by their parents (see above).   Life is definitely not working out the way they expected it to and this is painful.

The constant change impacts them as it intensifies at a time in life when most of them want to start relaxing and enjoying more stability.

The younger folks have lived with constant change and are much more dogmatic about it.   They still struggle with personal desires and goals, versus the realities that face them, but they express their expectations differently.

“Bloom Where You Are Planted”

A very popular 1970’s quote which engendered countless posters of plants – ascribed usually to Mary Engelbreit

Seems just as right now as then.  Remember, just to keep the analogy going, that healthy plants are often moved and even repotted.  Nothing stays the same, as countless pundits have observed.

Trying to take my own advice and focus on enjoying what I have in the Heartland ….

John

What’s in YOUR Wallet? …


What’s in YOUR wallet?

A long time ago and far, far away from my current reality, I was a therapist.  I worked with people who suffered from addictions and people who cared for those who suffered.

 This is where I learned the power of personal mantras.

Some were trite and overused, like “One Day At A Time”, while others were just funny – “Denial is not a river in Egypt” comes to mind.  Some were short and some were long.   Mantras could be from a trusted or well-known source or put together by the person to suit their specific needs.

Mantras remind us of our focus and our goals.

I believe that having a mantra which they repeated on a frequent, regular, and personal basis made a significant amount of the difference between those who maintained recovery and those who did not.

Mantras work equally well for the rest of life’s problems.

A few years ago, I was laid off from my dream job as part of a bankruptcy.  As I pondered what to do, I sought help from various sources.  In a small book that was not really about job loss, I found some inspiration.  Now that faded and worn card with the words shown at the top of the post goes with me at all times.

My mantra has and continues to sustain me through recession, failure, doubt, and shifting plans.

A recent Fast Company echoes this on an organizational basis:  “Repeat After Me:  Your Company Needs Mantras“.  Apparently mantras work just as well for organizations as they do for people.

A mantra is NOT an advertising slogan or elevator speech.  It’s personal.

So the question remains:  

“What’s in YOUR wallet?” ~ “What is YOUR mantra?”

Repeating my mantra till the cows come home in the Heartland ….

John

Source of the quote:  Meditations for the Passages and Celebrations of Life:   A Book of Vigils by Noela N. Evans (1995)

Should I Stay or Should I Go?


This is not about church … that’s just the context for a leadership coaching question.

Some of you know I am a member of a specific Christian Protestant denomination. Like many, our mainline small band has experienced change over the years and it’s not always pleasant.  One of the primary issues is the conflict between older members who bewail the lack of engagement of younger members and younger members who bewail the lack of energy and opportunity combined with envious eyes toward “the way it used to be.”

This particularly affects our newer ordained ministers. To read about the struggles of one articulate and very passionate young leader who is leaving our denomination, go to “SO LONG”  Here’s my response to Ryan’s announcement:

First, thank you for your contributions. They have not been ignored or missed, but our denomination will be lesser for your leaving.

Next, a word to those who see things differently.

Well, yeah … we all have our personal realities, shaped by our experiences, our backgrounds, and our psychological and emotional make-ups. Where some see death, others see growth. It’s not about deciding which is right, it’s about deciding which is your vision and acting on that.

I feel regret because I’m afraid you are just one of many, ordained and lay, who see their future serving God in other ways than through the Disciples. I have served in lay leadership positions with several congregations, worked for a national ministry for 10 years, and have a deep affection for the Disciples. I also see what I name as “warts” in our denomination.

Bottom line: we each have to do what we see as the best earthly manifestation of God’s will for us and trust that we are doing and being close to what he wants and asks of us.

Godspeed, friend, and you aren’t really moving that far. God appears to be pretty popular in OKC and unlike us humans, he does not have a denominational preference:)

My questions on this early Spring Sunday morning (yes, I know it’s technically still winter and I don’t care):

What would you say to a young and somewhat frustrated person who wants to serve and cannot find a way to do so in their current environment?

How would you advise them on whether they should stay or go?

Eagerly awaiting the blooming of flowers, growing of grass, and your responses in the Heartland.

John