January Musings

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Why do people have different feelings about what is important and what isn’t? Why are there so many different views as to what is fair and what is unfair?  Why do we favor one political party over the other? Why do some of us feel it is paramount to help the poor, while others say it is crucial to save the planet, while yet others campaign to save the animals?

One of the reasons is because of core values. We all have them and ours are different from others. Core values are the lens through which we view life—every event and every person. They are the filter we use to process information. For the most part, we express these values unconsciously and yet they are evident in what we say and do. They are not our character or personality traits, rather our beliefs. And when we are called upon to do something that goes against our core value, it troubles us and drains us of energy.

I’ve found most people cannot readily identify their core value. I spoke with one young man who worked for a company that manufactured toys. He chaffed over the pollution of plastics in landfills as well as the danger these toys presented to children’s minds and self-worth. After chatting a while, I realized his core value was ethics and he was going against his. A couple of years later he quit this company and now is at peace.

Identifying our core values is a good thing because it will help us make better choices. It will also help us realize why we do, think, and act in certain ways.  There are plenty of tests on the Internet to help us. However, I simply asked myself the following four questions:

  • What do I find myself doing without thinking about it?
  • What can I simply not stop doing?
  • What makes me ‘pound the table’, in other words, what gets my ire up and tempts me to try and set things straight?
  • What values do I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren?

For now, my core values are communication, gratitude, and inspiration. The reason I wrote ‘for now’ is because these values might evolve over time in response to my life-experiences.

Start the new year out right by identifying your core values. It has really helped me focus and is vital in decision making. There are so many things in life demanding our attention and energy. Focusing on our values will keep us centered and more effective. Had the young man I wrote of earlier known the reason for his unrest was due to a job that went against his core value, he may have changed jobs sooner.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several tests on the internet. Or you might ask yourselves the four questions I asked myself. Another procedure is to look at a list of core values and highlight all the ones that resonate with you. Then write down the highlighted word and go through the new list, ranking them from most important to the least. Choose the top three and you will probably have it right. Finally, another way is to have someone else describe you. Oftentimes others have a more unbiased assessment.

When you have determined your core values, I’d like to hear about them and how you came to discover them.  May 2016 be your best year yet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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L’Chiam! TO LIFE!

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There are days when I am overwhelmed with the sadness and pain in this world. When my family has troubles. When my life gets complicated. There are days I stand at the window and whisper to my Abba Father, “Help,” because it is the only word I have the strength to utter. I’m overwhelmed because I’m so focused on the bad that I cannot recognize joy.

Our brains take us to the place of our focus. If I am in a negative place—complaining about the way things are—it doesn’t take long to darken my mood. Despair blinds me. I muddle through the day missing opportunities because I cannot see them.

This picture of my granddaughter reminds me of the importance to take baby steps to joy. To throw back my head and drink in life’s good things, no matter how small. We have so much to be grateful for. And if we focus on those things, we will find our way out of the darkness.

LOOK ABOVE THE RAIL

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” Where you set your focus is where you will go.” ~ Linda Apple

There are so many little irritations in life. They are like tiny mice nibbling away at something precious, doing a lot of damage. That is what happened to me while vacationing in Gatlinburg.

There I was surrounded by the kind of beauty where my mouth dropped open but the words just wouldn’t come. But when we walked into our room at the Hampton Inn and found the balcony wasn’t overlooking the beautiful creek that ran beside the hotel, it almost ruined my day.

This may seem like a small thing to most people, but my favorite room anywhere is a patio or balcony. I’m an outdoors kinda gal. So instead of gazing at a bubbling brook, I had this lovely view of a trashy parking garage and lot. 

My husband encouraged me to join him on the balcony that evening. Reluctantly, I sat beside him and glared at the ugly view below. Then he pointed to the sky and said, “Look up there instead. I lifted my gaze above the top rail and the beauty   mesmerized me.

Every evening we sat on our little balcony and I fixed my gaze above the rail. While            enjoying glories above me, I thought about how often I focus on the life’s little irritations instead on all the things I have to be grateful for. Too often I let the little mice of vexation nibble away at my joy.

How about you? Are you letting small annoyances nibble away at your joy? For instance, those irritating political posters on Facebook? Funny how they are not so irksome if you agree. Or how about how the slow waitstaff  at the restaurant or the internet that crawls like a dying man across the desert? And my favorite, the inconsiderate driver. Children! We get irritated at them for getting their clothes dirty, being too loud, or spilling their drink in public. Then there is the spouse who loses keys, puts the toilet paper roll on backwards, makes you late, leaves the lid up. I’ll stop here. You know what I’m saying, right?

Do any of these resonate with you? If so, I encourage you to LOOK ABOVE THE RAIL. Don’t let irritations nibble away at your day.

Reframing Our Focus

 

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“Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts”~ Soren Kierkegaard

 

There is nothing like early mornings in the garden for quiet contemplation. I never know what I am going to hear from God while basking in the cool shades of green and dodging honeybees I disturb while seeking fat butterbeans.

This morning was no exception.

While peering through the vines, I noticed the leaves at the bottom were yellow. Upon further inspection I found a few bugs. I made a mental note to take care of those hungry critters. With my mind on the vine’s problems, I couldn’t see the beans. I scanned the leaves and saw nothing but lush vegetation. And then, my focus cleared and just a breath away from my nose hung a cluster of fat pods.

So it is with my life sometimes. I focus on the problems so much that I miss the fruit. Yes, we need to deal with problems, but we shouldn’t let it hijack our vision. How often are we so distracted that we miss what we seek and it is right there in front of our nose?

This week, take a deep breath. Get a plan for the problem, then step back from it and see the fruit.

 

FORGIVENESS A FORMIDABLE FEAT

“Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” ~ C.S.Lewis

Last time we looked at what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. Today we will look at how to forgive. And just like it says in the title, to forgive can be a very difficult thing to do.

When I was in elementary school we used to play a game called “dodge ball.” Remember that? We would stand in a large circle, and one of us would go to the center of the circle. We had a ball, kind of like a basketball only a lot softer. The goal was for those forming the circle to try to hit the person in the center and the person in the center to dodge that ball. Who ever finally hit the “dodger” took his or her turn in the center.

To forgive is a lot like that game. The offense is the ball. Life circles us and situations throw the offense at us. We are wise to dodge it, but too many times it knocks us flat. Or we might catch it and hold it tight, nursing the hurt. We may turn it over and over rehearsing the story in our head, or to others. But the true object of the game is to dodge it. And should we catch it, to reverse it—throw it away from us.

For most of us, forgiveness takes time. But if we will practice the following steps we will succeed:

Decide to forgive. Decide to let go of that offense. We must not listen to our emotions. They keep a death-grip on our hurt because at first it doesn’t always feel good to forgive.

  • Move forward. Not forgiving holds us in a state of inertia. Believe the truth. We did not deserve to be hurt in such a way. But now is the time to close the door on the past and move on to our future.
  • Focus on how this has made us stronger, wiser, better people, and more compassionate people to others in similar situations. Let us think about ways we can help others?
  • Redefine ourselves. We must quit being “the victim.” Let’s no longer allow the offending person or situation continue to have power or control over us.

Finally, we must be patience with ourselves. Sometimes in a weak moment we might forget to dodge and the offense will land in our hands. When that happens, we mustn’t nurse it, or rehearse the stories. We must reverse it. Throw it away. Life will get tired of playing that game and we will emerge the victors!