It’s Not Just Me …

PensiveThis Christmas is different …

Do you feel it too?

In discussions with trusted colleagues, friends and family, some things are becoming more clear as we move closer to the end of the year.

Some events, such as the Connecticut school shootings, are recent, horrific, heart-breaking… and weighing on people’s minds, even in the middle of their own personal joys and troubles.

Some events, like the ongoing difficult economic picture for many or long-term relational issues, continue as  persistent and erosive issues … affecting people and their relationships with family, coworkers, and others.

A number of people face emotional disruption during this season of joy, as they do every day, because they do not experience love, connection, or meaning in their lives… they move through our lives unseen and unheard.

My habit is usually to try to ignore my woes and try to get into the holiday spirit.  This sometimes results in poor financial decisions, unnecessary emotional stress, and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed and not up to snuff.

This year is different …

How is this affecting you?

I am looking for and finding opportunities to do small kindnesses for others.

I am trying to stop using money spent as the measure of affection for others.

I am giving time and attention to those about whom I care deeply.

I am also watching for the random stranger, who struggles with their own, unknown demons, and trying to make their day a little brighter.

I am reducing my need to measure based on output and concentrate of throughput.

I am trying something different.  What about you?

Not sure where this might lead.  Some habits and perceptions are deep and resist change.   Others are surprisingly easy to overturn and replace.  

Doing this feels right… if nothing else, it certainly beats cruising the malls and fighting for parking spaces.

Trying something new in the Heartland …



Why Not …?

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want.  It is instead the realization of how much you already have.”


I have been thinking about fulfillment lately.

Those kind of thoughts have been increasingly with me.  You know, the ones which start out  …

“I wish I had …”

“If only I could  …”

“Why can’t I …”

Sigh … so many unfulfilled desires, dreams, hopes … so little time and money.

One could spend a lifetime wanting what they do not have.   

Or I could spend my time thinking these kind of thoughts …

“I have …”

“I can …”

“Why not?”

Why do these kinds of thoughts seem so much harder to entertain?  Sometimes we seem hardwired to be pessimistic and “glass half full” types.

When I find myself falling into negative territory, I do three things:

1)  Fix my physical:   Eat better, sleep better, exercise more, and drink water.  Avoid sugar and snacking.  Clean up the house.  Do the chores.  Play with grandchildren.

2)  Fix my tangible:  What I can deal with, I try to face and do.  What I cannot deal with, I try to put aside.  Pay bills.  Repair things I can repair.   Make priority lists to help me decide.  Have guests for a meal.

3)  Fix my spiritual/emotional:  I seek comfort in positive thought, prayer, and trying to do good for others.  I go to church.  I volunteer to do things.  I seek the company of those I trust.

About that glass half full thing …

The pessimistic sees the glass half empty.  The optimist sees the glass half full.

The realist drinks the water,  and refills the glass, and drinks more until he is no longer thirsty.   I like that option.

Actually, I’d refill it with beer, but that’s another story for another time.

Having a long, cool drink of water in the Heartland ….


So Get Up Already …!

“Early to Bed, and Early to Rise, Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. “

Benjamin Franklin in Early to Bed, and Early to Rise, Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, Or, Early Rising, a Natural, Social, and Religious Duty (1855)

I cannot argue with the advice to get a good night’s sleep, but I question the logic which includes “wealthy” and “wise” as outcomes:).

My father was a farmer.  He literally rose with the livestock every day of his life and worked hard all day.  At night, he went to bed early as both a habit and a “have-to”.

My father was wise in many ways, but he definitely did not become wealthy, at least in the material sense.

You see, all the other farmers got up early too.

It’s a lifestyle thing …

As a young soldier, I was reintroduced to this idea about getting up early and going to bed early.  I still remember lying in my bunk on the first night of basic training thinking that it was not quite 9 PM in Kentucky, still light out and activities were going on right outside the window.   Why was I in bed already?

Well, that little mystery was solved quite neatly by the rhythm of military training.  I soon came to cherish those moments of “sack time”, as well as coming to enjoy the feeling of putting in several hours of hard work before most people would even consider getting out of bed.

Still no marked advantage over my peers, since they were all getting up at the same time and doing the same things.

Another one of those lifestyle things …

For most of my working life, I have tended to still get up earlier than many and take pleasure in getting things done before most others in the household have stirred.  I arrived early at the office every day.  When on the road, I would be up early and rolling to “beat the crowds”.

I guess rising early is part of my lifestyle …

Am I healthier?  

Yep.  Without a doubt, rising early helps me cope with stress more effectively and that produces a ripple effect on my general health.  I feel more able to manage my day, which in turn allows me to schedule in things like meditation and exercise.  I have more time to fix healthy meals.

Does good health affect our income or our intelligence?

Am I wealthier?

Nope.  I can safely say that rising early has never affected my “bottom line”,  either positively or negatively.   Beating my colleagues to the office every day has made little difference that I can see in that regard.  While some have seen my behavior as admirable, more have seen it as bizarre.

Interestingly, most of my bosses have been early risers.  While we have a point of commonality, I do not believe that any more benefit accrued to me than sharing a little quieter time early in the day with those in authority.  This alone does not change the balance of power.

Does my early bird habit enhance my influence?   Does influence always lead to more wealth?

Am I wiser?

I’ll let others decide that one:)   I know I feel more alert and in better position to take advantage of all that our society and world have to offer.  

I have more productive time, especially in the early part of the day.   I can balance my work responsibilities and other activities.

Is this wisdom or just opportunism?

Relaxing during an early morning in the Heartland ….


To Appease Is To …?

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last.”

Winston Churchill in Reader’s Digest (December 1954)

 Winston almost makes appeasement sound like a bad thing, doesn’t he?

… and used in the context of putting pacification before principle, history bears out that appeasement does not prevent bad things, but often just postpones them. Winston was a product of his times, as are we all, and his times were unusually conflicted.

However, according  to The Free Online Dictionary:   to “ap·pease” may mean one of three very different things:

“To bring peace, quiet, or calm to; soothe.”

Now this is more like it … appeasement as a source of strength.

 I appease my aching spirit by practicing meditation.  I appease my fears by taking action when I can.  I appease my need for calmness by claiming my right to create quietness in my life .  I appease my guilt over having so much by sharing.  I appease hurt by offering healing instead of harm. Continue reading

Alter Egos … “ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa”

Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde (see picture) …

Superman and Clark Kent …

Batman and Bruce Wayne…

Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader …

Our culture is filled with references to the concept of an alter ego … another entity which reflects a different part of a person’s existence.

Possibly the best example of an alter ego (or multiple alter egos technically) is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a short story by James Thurber, which poignantly and artfully captures the whimsical side of this concept.

Two personalities in one body… Continue reading