Shifting Our Focus

“Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That’s the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what’s left, that’s the part you have to make up as you go.”

– Katherine Weber

I came across this quote today and it hit me like a slap in the face. I wasn’t searching for quotes; it was just there like it was meant for me to read. I really started to think about my life, my thoughts, and my attitude towards certain things. For the last number of years (too many years to put an exact number on), I have said to myself, “my life is a series of losses.” It is all I have been focusing on. My losses. My life has been one loss after another. Whether it is a loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of money, or a number of other things; my life is a series of losses. However, I am not the only one who is alive on this planet. So many others feel the same way as I do. So many others have it worse off than I do. Our eyes are sometimes open only to our pain and closed to the pain other people go through. We get lost in our own pain all too often. We forget what matters. We give up. Once we start shifting our focus to others and helping others, our own lives improve as well. Not only do we make someone else feel better, but we feel better for helping someone else. I will slip and lose my focus from time to time, but before my life ends, I am hoping to help other people see things in a more positive light. After all, isn’t that what we were put on this planet for?

Does God Ever Need A Beer?

He watches over us from above. He sees everything we do and knows what is in our hearts and minds. He notices when we do good and knows when we do bad. No, I am not talking about Santa Claus. I am referring to God. He is all around us whether we notice or not. He built this world for us hoping we cherish it and do something positive in it and for it. What happens when we don’t?

Most of us have good intentions and we mean well. We live our lives to do good for our family, our friends, and our community. There are more decent people doing good than the other way around. Day in and day out, we try our best and don’t mean any harm. “Our best” is different for every person. Our talents, motivations, intentions, needs, and wants are all different from each other’s. We are put on this Earth to grow, learn, help each other out, and do good. What happens when we don’t?

I often wonder how God, All Knowing and All Mighty, deals with things and handles things when we as humans, mess up. When He points us in a direction and we go the other way, does He shake His head? When we miss the obvious, does He put His hands over His eyes? When we do something negative, does He take a deep breath to calm Himself? Having a whole world to watch over, does God ever need a beer?

I sometimes picture God in His throne with a beer relaxing “at the end of a day.” I wonder how He could not need a beer when us as humans are constantly needing help, redirection, advice, and improvement in our lives. In my opinion, He must be so great and so strong in order to deal with billions of people. How great is it that He loves us no matter what we do or what we say. Even with that said, I still wonder if God ever needs a beer?

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

Each experience we go through changes us. Each situation, good & bad, shapes us. Little by little we learn something from life’s challenges. We don’t learn it all at once. It takes time. It can take months, years, or a lifetime. It takes many lessons through life to get to the point of patience, acceptance, tolerance, listening, and asking for help. We don’t even have to go through the experience ourselves; Just watching someone else go through it, we should recognize a light bulb go on in our minds. We should be able to learn from any situation whether we ourselves go through it or not. It really doesn’t have to be a hard lesson to learn; it can be minor. If we keep our eyes open, we will learn from any good or bad situation, or we will be presented with it again.

Acceptance is a big lesson for me personally. I will never be a millionaire, live in Hawaii, have a huge house, or that perfect job. I compare myself to my family, friends, and to people I have never met. It’s hard not to. I feel I should be at a certain point in my life, or have accomplished this and that, and I am not and I don’t. I could have worked harder. I could have pushed myself more. I could have accomplished more. I also know there are others out there wishing they were in my shoes.

With the help of God, family, and friends, we fight our own battles. We have our responsibilities, problems, accomplishments, and failures. We should not compare ourselves to others. We are all different. We all learn at our own pace. We go through different challenges and sometimes the same challenges, which affect us all differently. We are all built and made different from each other. Accept it. Tolerate it. Have patience. Don’t compare yourself to others. It will get you nowhere.

Childhood Days

 

It’s 8am and I hear singing off in the distance. I just finished my shower and getting dressed and this faint singing is not coming from my house! I look outside to find my little neighbor girl on her swing set singing. She just finished the third grade and she is starting her summer break. How many almost fourth graders are outside playing and singing on their first days of summer break at 8am? This brought not only a smile to my face, but a thought into my head. How nice would it be to go back to those days? To go back to those care-free, no worry days and just be happy!

My first memories started forming in kindergarten. I can’t remember much before my first days of kindergarten. I remember my elementary school days being the happiest. My only responsibility was to get up, go to school, and come home to do any homework I had. Other than that, I was a kid with little responsibility and very little worries. All I had to do was be a kid!

Then junior high starts and this is where it all begins. Cliques start to form, peer pressure starts, and attitudes begin to take shape. The care-free life I once knew was gone and I was still only a kid. How fast those worry free days go. Those days slipped between my fingers and disappeared even before I knew they were there.

High school starts and ends. Before I know it, I’m off to college. It wasn’t until I was in college until I began to think back to my childhood days and miss them. Responsibilities grow and I am not a child anymore, but an adult. As much as I wanted to at times, it was difficult be in the childhood mindset as I grew older. Things change. We change. The world changes. My future begins to form and my life takes shape. With that comes duties, worries, and things to do. I start to wonder where my childhood went.

Fast forward life to many years down the road to this morning when I heard my little neighbor girl sing and play outside so early in the morning. It brings back good memories of my childhood, but also makes me wonder why I can’t have that back. I believe we all can take a lesson from a child and have our childhood back, if only for a little while. As adults, we need to let go from time time, stop taking life too seriously, have some fun and play more. Forget about responsibilities and worries. Learn to go back to those childhood days. Don’t let your children grow up too fast. My two nephews and one niece are growing like weeds and not only does that mean I am getting old, but their childhood days will be gone before they even know they had them!

My Own Little World

 

There is a place, a couple places actually, where I go to forget about all of my worries and all of the world’s troubles. As soon as I am there, my troubles melt away. I don’t think about what worries my mind nor do I think about what is going on in the news. For a short time, the outside world no longer matters. It’s almost like I am in my own little world with the doors shut to the outside. Nothing else can make it’s way inside and until I open those doors to leave, nothing can make it’s way outside. While I am there, I am in a state of bliss, happiness, and peace. There are unseen, loving arms around this place letting me know everything will be okay.

Being the type of person that worries all the time and contemplates every possible outcome, a place or two like this, is what I need. It releases the tension inside me. For a while, I am able to let go of all the stress on my shoulders or all the stress that I think is on my shoulders! I would describe these places like being in Heaven, but since I have not been to Heaven, yet, I will say it is like being on vacation. There are no worries, troubles, or stress. Only happiness, peace, love, and a state of relaxation exists. When I leave this place, there is a longing to go back. It is almost like a piece of my life is missing until I return. Once back at this place, life makes sense again. I feel like I have all the answers and nothing can pull me down.

Everyone needs a place or two like this. When the outside world consumes us, we all need a place to kick our feet up and let go. If I am not able to physically be at these places, I go there in my mind, if only for a little while. I urge us all to find a place or two that makes us feel that nothing else matters. It could be when you are with your loved one(s) you feel this way, at a beautiful park, looking at a sunrise or sunset, a place you volunteer at, or maybe it is going for a walk or a drive. Whatever & wherever it is, go there often. If you don’t have a place like this, I urge you to find one. Doing so will only help you, not hurt you.

 

 

Six Ways To A More Meaningful Life

“It was not the feeling of completeness I so needed, but the feeling of not being empty.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

My walk Sept 11 2013 015Do you ever wake up to start your day and feel like pulling the covers back over your head so you can go back to sleep? This is common from time to time, but feeling this way a lot is not an easy life to live. The feeling of emptiness that humans have is not an easy pattern to break, but it is possible. All humans need a sense of purpose or meaning to get out of bed each day. Some have more trouble with this. Others it comes easy. Whether you are one to climb out of bed most day with a purpose or not so much, read on to find ways to stop the empty feeling inside and bring more meaning to your life.

1. Change things up in your daily or weekly routine. Some routines are hard to change. For example, taking care of your kids/family, work, school, and appointments are just a few examples of everyday tasks that are difficult to change. However, volunteering, joining a club, and finding a new hobby, are a few examples of doing something different. Meeting new people and doing new things introduces a new purpose in your life.

2. Take control of your life. Are you doing things that you want to do or are you doing things because your family or society says you have to? Are you studying what you want in college or are you studying what your parents want you to or what your friends are studying? Do you have the job you want or do you have a job because society says you should have this job? Are you doing things that you truly want to do or are you doing things that just looks good to other people? Take a break, a breath, and determine what it is you want to do with your life, not what anyone else wants you to do.

3. Stay away from the habits that make you feel empty. This seems obvious, but it is easy to hang around with the wrong crowd, drink & eat too much, watch too much TV, play too many video games, etc… These harmful habits play a role in why people have these empty feelings. Have a healthy lifestyle and that will in turn, make you feel better.

4. Spend time with people who truly support you and want what is best for you. This may be family, friends, church friends, or co-workers. Stay away from people who do not have your best interest at heart.

5. Consider adopting a pet. If you have the time and money, pets are a wonderful way to bring a smile to your day. They know how to bring purpose to your everyday life.

6. Seek help. Whether it is a trusted family member, friend or a therapist, find someone to talk to. Talking to someone you trust and keeping a journal, can help you feel better and find purpose and meaning to your everyday life.

These few steps can help build your life back to a feeling of fullness. Adding these positive changes to you life, plus some of your own, will contribute a well balanced life.

Look and Learn From Each Other

There comes a time in everyone’s life when it really hits them that not only is there someone else out there going through something worse, but there is someone else going through a situation in which no one wants to trade places with, regardless of how much or little drama is involved. It opens up their eyes and helps them realize everyone has something to deal with. Everybody has their own set of issues. Some problems are more serious than others, but it does not mean they are any more or less important. Everyone has a cross to bear. There are people who are struggling to survive. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. There are other people just going through the emotions of life and not really experiencing life to the fullest. They are either too busy, going through life too fast, or not paying attention. There are few people who live life to the fullest no matter what is thrown at them. Every single person has high points and low points of their life. It is not necessarily the actual high points or low points of a person’s life that matters, but how a person deals with those high and low points. Do they grow and learn from those high and low points or do they act out and ignore the potential lessons that come from those things in life? Every single person has done both. This is how people grow and learn.

Picture the homeless man living in a box on a dangerous corner downtown. He lost his job and not able to pay his bills. He was forced out of his home. Now people pass by him, judge him, and look at him with contempt.

Picture the loving wife and mother addicted to alcohol. She hides bottles in the attics, closets, and under a loose floorboard. She easily explains away lost money. She tries to quit over and over, but keeps relapsing.

Picture a troubled teenager. She comes from a loving, close family. Somehow she starts hanging around with the wrong crowd. She doesn’t do her homework and discovered drugs and alcohol. She is out of control, angry, and unhappy. Her parents are doing everything in their power to try and help her, but she refuses any kind of help.

Picture a healthy, elderly man living alone. His wife passed away recently. He is lonely. He pushed his friends away. He doesn’t want help from his kids. He is depressed and tired all the time. He has little interest in anything. He doesn’t want to talk and doesn’t want any outside help.

Are any one of these situations more important than the other? No. How many people would want to be in any of these situations? No one. Life happens. There are some situations in which people have no choice in how certain matters turn out. People have control over some things, but then there are other things in which they don’t. People need to judge less and leave the judging to God. People need to realize they are not the only ones hurting in this world. We all are. We are all dealing with something. Learn from each other. Put yourself in another person’s shoes and picture what they are going through. Look at what they are dealing with. Everyone is in this world to help each other. What matters to everyone in the four scenarios described above is that they are not alone. They want to know someone cares for them. They want to know that when they are ready to change their life and turn it around for the better, not only is not too late, but at least one person will be there to help them. Look around. What can we as a society and individuals do to help someone today? When people help others, they not only help improve someones life, but they improve their own as well.