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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Exercises in Bridge Building (or Not)

I was having a conversation recently with someone who will remain unnamed.  I was trying to express or get out a thought and wasn't quite successfully relaying my thoughts. That person was just looking at me in a cool, unhelpful way, not saying anything really and not reaching out trying to help me to where I was headed with my thoughts.   Anyone who has spoke in front a group of people and got stuck on blank, disinterested or even hostile stares knows the feeling.  It is like being stranded or exposed, where the discomfort quickly becomes acute.

So, it occurred to me that I could express this (purposeful?) disconnect in terms bridge building.  That is to say, I was building a bridge to my audience (of one) and ran out of materials--got stuck completing or explaining my thought.  Now, I was left stranded or hanging out there without a way to reach my audience.  Had the person been more friendly to me, they'd have grab some supplies--ideas or thoughts--and started building a bridge back to me.  That is to say, they'd have helped me finish my incomplete thought.  Then we'd have had a connection or been 'bridged' together.  Unfortunately, when what you are trying to communicate is important, something suffers when the other party won't help with building the or connecting to your bridge.

After further reflection, I figured or determined that there are at least four types of bridge-building exercises.  Two involve a misconnection, one involves a one-sided connection and the final one involves a good connection where both sides share in the process and benefits

Scenario 1: Leaving me stranded.
  • Characterized by one party getting stuck when trying to express or communicate a thought or idea (run out of supplies and can't build to the other party).  
  • The other party instead of helping the the first party finish connecting--building a bridge towards where they had to stop--leaves them hanging.
    • A blank, clueless or hostile stare.
    • Impatient words or attitude
    • General unwillingness or inability to help the other connect
  • Compels the first party to make sure they have their thoughts or ideas completely buttoned down when communicating with the other party.
  • Discourages the first party from attempting at communicating or connecting, lest they be left hanging when and if they get stuck.

Scenario 2: Close but never quite meeting.
  • Characterized when two parties communicate past each other.  It is like each is building a parallel bridge to the other.  
  • Both parties want to communicate with each other as characterized by both working on a bridge to the other, but don't know how to reach each other or connect.
  • Instead of listening to what the other is saying or the needs of the other, they build a bridge in the direction of where they think the other SHOULD BE and expect the other party to meet them.
  • Instead of stubbornly continuing to build a bridge past the other (talking past each other) and trying to force the other into building their bridge in their direction (expecting them to fit into their thinking), each party should actually pause and see how they can meet.
  • If they stop in their efforts to build a bridge past each other and they start building a bridge towards each other, the bridge my not look pretty, but it will get them where they need to be--specifically communicating and connecting.  Communication doesn't have to be perfect to be effective.  Just like a bridge doesn't have to be built perfectly to get people to where they need to go.

Scenario 3: Bridges always built completely from one direction
  • Characterized when one party is always doing all the bridge building. i.e., in reaching out or communicating with the other.  The other party is open to what you have to say, but they aren't willing to do reach out or do the work to get their.
  • Eventually the first party will run out of building supplies when they are the one(s) always building the bridge to the to other side.  That is to say, eventually when one party is responsible for reaching out, communicating, or connecting, eventually that side will tire of being the bridge builder and no longer have it in them.
  • This type of bridge building may be effective and communication may be good for a time, but for long term bridge building it will fail miserably.  It doesn't compel or teach the other party to work on a bridge towards you. It may even deprive them of the opportunity to learn how to reach you or even worse it may cover up their disinterest in reaching you--communicating--if it isn't on their teams.

Scenario 4: The two sides shall meet in the middle.
  • Characterized when both parties participate in meeting each other in a bridge building exercise (aka communicate or connect).
  • One party might do a bit more of the bridge building, but it is clear each side is trying to their part in the bridge building.  (Each are reaching out, communicating and engaging in give and take).
  • This is the best long term model.  If each believe the other is an active participant in the bridge building exercise, they will know that if their efforts to build a bridge stall (they struggle with communication/connection for a bit), that the other party will carry the effort for a while.
  • In the situation I originally described, the other party to my thoughts or efforts to communicate saw where I was struggling to express myself.  In this scenario, they could have waited patiently while I processed my thought, they could have suggested to me what they thought I might be driving or they could have asked questions to draw that information out.

I feel that it is best possible when needing good communication/connection when dealing with others that, it is always best to extend a little bit of bridge to the other party to start with.  This will show the other party that you are willing to make some effort to meet them in the middle and don't expect them to do all the heavy lifting.  If it is a party that is not necessarily favorably disposed to you, while you extend a little bridge, you limit what you extend.  If it is a party that is favorably disposed to you, it is safer to extend quite a bit of bridge to the other party.  In either case, at some point it is best to give the other party the opportunity to work on building their own bridge back to you.  To deny them that opportunity, deprives them of the opportunity to work on their own communication/connection skills as well sets up an expectation that they don't have to.  In either case, it is important to remember bridge building with others, especially loved ones is not necessarily a one-time exercise but a life-long process.  Learning how to effectively connect and communicate--and maintain such connection/communication--with others, especially loved ones, is something that will always require some work and never should be taken for granted.

I believe my Higher Power (God), made us social creatures, but He also gave us a free will.  Therefore, the desire to communicate and connect with others is always there, but knowledge how to do so effectively and the willingness to do what it takes can be a sticking point.  I believe if we remember these things when considering how we relate to others, we will be at a good starting point for effective bridge building...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

How to Save Yourself Without Drowning Others

Why are there federal, and in most cases, state laws on whom should wear a life-jacket or PFD (personal flotation device) on a moving boat?   I'd venture to guess it's because it is recognized that kids of a certain age are either a) not likely to know how to swim or b) they are likely to weak of a swimmer.  That is they have built up the stamina to swim far or for an extended period should they be required to.  In other words, they are deemed to be a greater drowning risk if the boat takes on water, they fall in the water or they get too far away from the boat.

Absent such a device, our natural instinct is to fight as hard as we can to keep our head high above water (See wikiHow to Prevent Drowning).  Unfortunately, even with the presence of another nearby to help us, the natural instinct is to panic when we feel ourselves going under.  We have to have the presence of mind when an experienced lifeguard is trying to save us from drowning to listen to him or her and not inadvertently pull them down too.  Sounds easy--listen to the experienced pro--but in the heat of the moment when panic starts to set in, we can lose our perspective and flail. 

From what I see, the same can happen in our personal lives.  That is, when we are in the process of 'drowning', fear can take over and we can allow ourselves and others around us to be dragged down by the path we choose.  Instead of taking from our faith, listening to others who are there for us, remembering that we've made it through rough circumstances before and focusing on the things that are going well, we get stuck on path that inevitably is destructive to ourselves and others.

I think most people have a story involving them or someone they know in which someone was stuck on a destructive path and could not get beyond it.  One that hits home for me occurred around at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013.  The situation involved my dad.  In hindsight, he'd had symptoms of Parkison's disease for quite a while, but had not been diagnosed with it until earlier in late 2011 or early 2012.  

If I recall correctly, he tried to hide the extent of his health problems until the first time his legs locked up and he fell.  At that point, he couldn't hide that he had a problem and the extent thereof.  As he lived by himself, it quickly become clear that he needed to to have someone available 24/7 to watch over him and/or help him.  My brother and I had been helping him clean around the house, pick up food for him and to take him to places as time permitted us.  But as his fall risk become clearer, it became clear that he'd need someone there all the time or to be somewhere where that would be the case.  As all he'd known for the better part of 40+ years was his house, he wasn't going to move without a fight.  As my brother and I were both single, had full time jobs, I had a child and both of us had other responsibilities, we could do more to help him but we couldn't give him the help he needed and get by.  From what I see, he saw going somewhere that he'd have 24/7 access to help as 'drowning', but he couldn't afford for long the care he needed at home.   So, he came up with a 'solution', he'd give each of us a little stipend in return for staying by his side.  There was no way we could do this and effectively get by.  But in his now more cloudy mind, that was an option.  In short, in his mind, he was drowning.  So, he was doing whatever he could to keep himself afloat, even risking dragging under the ones that were trying to help him.  I realize at the time and even more so now that he wasn't in a good place, but it still was tough saying no to someone who'd be a strong figure in our lives.

This story led me to consider how we affect others around us, sometimes wittingly and sometimes unwittingly.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't trying to hurt his kids, but was becoming increasingly confused and afraid.  He had talked for a number of year of getting rid of his house and moving somewhere which he didn't have to do as much.  We were on board with that, but he never took the steps to put that in place.  He never made provisions for anything really.  In short, he'd been swimming in life's waters for a long time and didn't plan for what would happen if he became too tired to swim.   

I believe if we've lived long enough, most people have a story of wittingly or unwittingly putting someone in a bad spot or someone else putting us in a bad spot.  So, how do we save ourselves without drowning others?

How to save yourself without drowning others
  • Plan for the day in which you can't do it by yourself so you don't put the ones you love in an impossible situation.  That doesn't mean don't leave a place for them to help, but don't put them in a situation that is impossible for everyone.
    • Consider the future realistically.
    • Don't leave yourself dependent on needing things to turn out perfectly, because chances are they won't.
  • Listen to your loved ones and don't dismiss their concerns for you  If they've truly been loyal to you, chances are they are looking out for you.  In other words, take their concerns into account.
    • This can involve health and safety concerns.
    • This can involve addiction concerns--to the point of accepting an intervention.
    • This can involve concerns for other negative influences in your life.
  • Learn to lean into your Higher Power (God) and faith.  If you develop a healthy relationship with your Higher Power and/or work on your faith, fear stands less of a chance to totally consume you should disaster or bad circumstances strike.  If we stop to think, we can usually find a time or two in which He was there watching out for us.
  •  When ones you can reasonably trust offer to help and you could really use it, consider taking them up on it.  Better to swallow a little pride and accept the help now than wait until the situation or circumstances have spun out of control--risking the well-being of yourself and possibly others at that point.

(For no apparent reason, except that I like this song).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When Being Strong is Weak and Being Weak is Strong and Somewheres in Between.

I grew up with an 'old school' dad who passed on or expressed 'old school' ways and ways to his kids.  Now I will only speak as a guy, but from what I 'learned' boys were expected to 'deal' with adversity and utilizing what we call behavioral health--counseling or psychiatry--was showing or admitting weakness.  Now I don't fault him as he grew up in a society or world that blessed that view.  With time and distance from my childhood and his immediate influence, I have a more nuanced view.  For example, I don't think counselors or psychiatrists by definition are quacks--his words--but instead that some are generally effective, some are generally ineffective and some are helpful for some clients, but not others.  But, I digress.  I moved from my dad's old school contempt for behavioral health into a perspective in which utilizing behavioral health can be a sign of strength.  That is to say, not being too proud to admit you or your child have a problem which a behavior/medical professional can help you with.  To me that's strength.  

The goal of this blog post is recognize when purported strengths are actually weaknesses and vice versa.  In many cases a purported strength is actually a strength and purported weakness is actually a weakness, so I will address that too.  

Strength is weakness (examples)
  • Doing something on your own, when help is both offered, available and even desirable.
    • Initially, it may be desirable to do something on your own just to show you can do it or get past a block--such as writing a paper or story.  This can give you and others confidence in your ability.
    • It can become a weakness if you continue to reject help because you can do it yourself.  For example, when you have willing and available help for moving and refuse it in order to show you don't need help.
  • Someone does you wrong and you treat them badly and/or reject them completely.
    • Obviously you don't hand them out a friendship award for mistreating you.
    • Often it is necessary to display consequences for the mistreatment to indicate its not acceptable.
    • Excessive payback can make you look small, not strong.
    • Excessive frigidness or hostility, instead of displaying strength, can actually show a weakness.
      • Inability to respond properly due to unchecked emotions.
      • Too much of a focus on making sure to show how strong you are--such as how you don't NEED the other person--can actually be an attempt to hide or compensate for a wounded pride.
  • Virtue signaling - that is publicly and blatantly everyone know that you ARE on the right side of an issue.
    • Can be portrayed as strength--that is you are willing to take a public stand on an issue.
    • Often times it shows a blatant 'need' or desire to be accepted.  That is hoping to be praised for virtuousness.  In other words, it is a weakness that you are relying on or craving public approval.
Weakness is strength (examples)
  • Breaking down and seeking help, when circumstances dictate.
    • Going to the doctor rather than stubbornly hoping to wait out being sick.
    • Going to a grief counselor/group when you've had a profound death in the family.
    • It shows that you are stronger than your pride or discomfort at asking or accepting help.
  • Turning the other cheek, when you easily could punish someone else.
    • It shows that you will not let someone else's mistreatment of you get the best of or rule you.
    • It shows that you a the bigger person.  That is you put what is best over getting back at another.  Aka you are stronger than your pride or emotions.
    • Often times there will be another time or circumstance to 'respond' to the mistreatment.
  • Not saying anything in response to a situation, circumstance or story.
    • You don't need the approval you believe you can generate by getting on the 'right side' of the issue.  Your esteem is more deeply rooted.
    • You are wise or strong enough to see that sometimes outwardly responding serves no useful purpose and potentially can inflame a situation.
    • Holding your tongue rather than caving to pressure to respond (and 'show you care').  You are smart and strong enough to realize that your actions will be a better portrayal of your character than throwaway or forced responses.
    • There will usually be another opportunity and way to respond at a later point.
Strength is strength (examples)
  • Risking your health and safety to help another out in a life and death situation.  That is overcoming the fear of consequences to you.
  • A projection of military might to discourage other nations from threatening yourself or your allies.
Weakness is weakness (examples)
  • Continually let someone bully you without saying anything or otherwise standing up for yourself.  It's one thing to turn the other cheek, but it's another to just make yourself out to be a huge and continued target.
  • Going to the other extreme and getting 'hurt' over every little perceived injustice or offense.


Life will provide you ample opportunities to show your strength of will, judgment and/or character.  Not every circumstance is meant to be an opportunity to display your 'strength' (or weakness).  The most important thing is to seek wisdom and guidance (including from your Higher Power) on how to handle each circumstances.  In the meantime, it is important to be grounded and base your responses more on what is appropriate and less on how they will help you.  I believe in life if your actions or behavior are based on what is right vs. what is convenient, in the long run, you will keep your own respect and more often then not win that of others.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Faith: Learning to Cut the Kite String at the Right Time.

Interestingly enough, I've found that some of my worst choices have come in spite of 'knowing better' or having warning signs in the way.  I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this.  Sometimes when I've want something so much, despite huge red flags, it was easy to "cut the kite string" and let 'fate' have it's way with my life.  Yet, during a time when I genuinely need to cut the kite string and let my Higher Power (God) have ultimate authority in my life, I sometimes just float the kite up to him and ask for help, all while keeping the kite on a string (in case I need to reel the kite back in and assume 'control' again).  I would characterize it as "Idiot Faith" vs. "Genuine Faith".  That is to say, I've indulged 'idiot faith' while pushing aside 'genuine faith'.

Characterizing Idiot Faith:

  • There is a roadblock or a sign up saying, "Danger Ahead", but there is also a 'Destination' that appears desirable and within reach.  So, you think, 'If I have to leap over the abyss or build a flimsy bridge to reach that destination, then so be it.'  I'm sure somehow I will escape with barely a scratch (if one at all).
  • You've run into this or similar roadblocks before and been burnt or hurt by ignoring them.  Yet, the Destination is so appealing that you tell yourself if I do things a bit differently this time, I can make it to the Destination minimally scathed at worst.  This despite scars from previous attempts to reach the Destination.
  • Instead of waiting to see if the Destination is good for you at this time or ever or if your way of trying to reach the Destination is sound, you charge ahead letting go of the kite string, leaving consequences to 'fate'.
  • It can appeal to a desire to take a shortcut to happiness or contentment.

Characterizing Genuine Faith:
  • Recognizing when your Higher Power has watched over you.
    • Providing you what you need, even when you didn't properly ask.
    • Protecting you from the full consequences of "Idiot Faith" that held and exercised.
  • Recognizing your Higher Power knows what is in your best interest, even when you don't.
  • Letting go of expectations (cutting the kite string) and trusting that the God (the wind) will be able to help you carry your problems, rather than trying to hold hold onto them.
  • Willingness to do what is best or right, even when it seems unappealing, knowing that following your Higher Power's will in the end result in the best overall outcome.
  • Willingness to wait for your Higher Power's timing.

I guess for me it works like this: Sometimes, if I have the (illusion of) control over a decision, choice or circumstance, then I am more willing to step out on a limb or to cut the kite string as it were.  When I rightly give up control (or worry) about the decision, choice or circumstance to my Higher Power, I sometimes worry if I will get what I need, when really what I mean is what I want.  Ultimately, I guess the take away is I have to learn to take ME out of the .  That doesn't mean that I play no role and wait around for my Higher Power to rescue me when my world is being 'flooded', but instead play my role according to His will and afterwords "Let Go and Let God".

Friday, September 22, 2017

We'll Get Together Then: Uncertain, Intending To or Humoring Others?

It's a bit of a running joke with my circle that I say "We'll get together then" when I mean we will talk or hang out in the not too distant future.  As you might figure, it's from "Cats In The Cradle" by Harry Chapin.  I only say that to those whom I want to keep in touch and/or hang out with.  I could just say, "we'll be in touch" or "we'll have to get together", but then that wouldn't be ironic would it?

In a prior blog called "Art of the Apology: Saying sorry without meaning it.", I touched upon the concept of humoring others with your words rather than being sincere.  In that case, it was about how and when people say "I'm sorry" when they don't really mean it.  I wrote it after I'd had enough of  'corporate' apologies.

When we make such open-ended pronouncements such as:

  • We need to get together.
  • We'll be in touch.
  • Let's do lunch sometime.
  • We'll have to keep in touch.
  • Let's plan on getting together.
  • Let's pick up this conversation at a later point.
or some other variant, I think three--not necessarily--mutually exclusive scenarios or 'reads' are playing out.  They are as follow:
  1. We likely will, but we have to figure when out when the schedule permits.
  2. We intend to, but life can get in the way.  We may or may not, but it is our intention to anyway.
  3. We know it is unlikely (and perhaps even undesired), but we don't want to be rude and just flat out blow each other off.
The thing that makes human interaction so complex--sometimes fascinating and sometimes frustrating--is trying to gauge our audience and what they expect or need.  Does our audience need brutal honesty or do they need hope when there is at best uncertainty?  The wrong read (and accompanying verbalization) can be the difference between keeping a loved one close and alienating them.  So, let's explore the three scenarios or reads:

  • We make open-ended pronouncements that mean this when:
    • When the other person(s) are VERY important to us.
    • We like the other person(s), but we cannot commit to anything at the particular moment.
    • We have to check or schedule or consider our availability.
    • We definitely want and fully intend to.
    • We are asking the other part(y/ies) to hold a 'place' for us in their life. It can be asking a lot.
  • If we really mean this by the pronouncement:
    • We need to follow-up in short order afterwards, later that day or within a few days for example. Otherwise, the other party might think we we just being polite, but really have no interest in them.
    • We need to make time for the other person(s) even if our schedule is tight.  Effectively, we have made a quasi-commitment or promise to them.  If we want to be thought of as a person of our word, we need to make sure we fit them in.
    • When we do find the time, we should ask them if they are still up for whatever we 'promised'.  If not, we should give them good reason and give them courtesy of explaining what's blocking us and that we are still committed to getting together (if we still are).
  • If the other part(y/ies) think we mean this when we don't:
    • This could lead to hard feelings.
    • This could diminish the value of our word (which may or may not be important depending on our audience).
    • This could lead to an uncomfortable tension or awkwardness if feelings were involved on the part of one (or all) parties.

  • We make open-ended pronouncements that mean this when:
    • We like the other person(s), but aren't really sure when or if we can commit to getting together or back with them at the time we say it.
    • Our schedule is very full and we aren't sure how we can find time for them.  We wish to send a message that any failing is a problem with our schedule and has nothing to do with them.
    • We'd like for the other part(y/ies) to hold a place in their life for us, but we don't want them to stop their life for us.
  • If we really mean this by the pronouncement:
    • We need to go through the effort of seeing if we can fit the other part(y/ies) in and not just leave them hanging.
    • We should get back with the other person(s) as soon as we have a better idea.
    • If we do find the time, we should ask them if they are still up for what we 'suggested'.  If not, and if they are important, we should let them know that we are keeping them in mind and will follow-up as soon as we can.
  • If the other part(y/ies):
    • Think we are just being polite, when we do follow-up, this can pleasantly surprise them (or throw them off if they were just being polite).
    • Think that we meant "we likely will", this could cause a problem if they were expecting our company and we cannot find time. It could cause hard feelings.

  • We make an open-ended pronouncement that mean this when:
    • There isn't much left to say with the other person and we realize this.  They may be nice, but there is a friendship/dating incompatibility that we recognize. This is particularly effective when it is clear the other party is also feels that way.
    • We really feel seriously uncomfortable with the other person(s) and we don't want to reject them abruptly leaving an awkward silence and/or hurt.  This is particularly effective when it is clear the other party feels that way also.
    • We know there is no possible way for us to every make or keep a commitment to the other person(s)
    • We don't want the other party to hold a 'place' for us, though if misread, it might appear that we are asking just that.
  • If we really mean this by the pronouncement:
    • We should avoid leading the other part(y/ies) on.
    • We should just let the communication 'die' naturally if possible.
    • We should drop any hope or expectations as it relates to the other part(y/ies).  It is unfair and unrealistic not when we blow another off to expect anything of them.
    • We should be prepared for other part(y/ies) to feel rejected. 
  • If the other part(y/ies):
    • Don't seem to get this, we need to find a way to more firmly but politely let them know that there is no there there with them.  In this case, delaying the inevitable could make things more awkward when we eventually do push them away.
    • See things the way we do, we have done each other a huge favor, by politely stepping away from them.

I left this specifically vague because not all open-ended pronouncements are spoken when a 'relationship' is in play.  Sometimes, we make these pronouncements with acquaintances, sometimes we make them with family and sometimes we make them with friends.  The important thing is to know your audience and be prepared when you make an open-ended pronouncement that it likely that you will have to follow-up on it, extend it or giving details or clarification on it.  If we read the audience correctly, this can be a smooth process.  If we read them wrong however, then we could leave some serious hurt and have serious resentment awaiting us.

I bid you a fond farewell from this post, but just remember, 'we'll get together then'.  You know we'll have a good time then.  ;-)

-- Rich

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wisdom to Know...

I believe in life, we hear sayings and understand them on some level, but don't necessarily deeply or totally appreciate them for awhile if ever.  Once such such saying for me is the Serenity Prayer.  I suspect anyone who has been going to church for a long time, been involved in a support/recovery group and/or is a person of faith has heard of the first part of it:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 

and wisdom to know the difference.

Not everyone however is familiar with the second part of it:

Living one day at a time; 

enjoying one moment at a time; 

accepting hardships 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. 

Anyway, I've heard it many times and maybe I have really 'gotten it' before, but haven't expressed it clearly as I will no. Below, I'm going to focus on the first part of that prayer as I understand it.


  • Calmness of mind.
  • Untroubled of heart.
  • Doesn't mean no fear or disquiet, but it means they don't rule you.

Accepting the things I cannot change

  • To me this usually means tabling my expectations of others people or circumstances.  
    • Expectations might be quite understandable such as wanting a healthy relationship with you child, your siblings, your parents, etc.  It doesn't matter, the expectations have to be let go if unrealistic.
    • Expectations might appear to be within reach but if you were honest, would see that they aren't.  It doesn't matter how in reach they appear to be, if they aren't, it's time to let the expectation go.
    • Expectations that we will be understood.  If we are fortunate, we will have that friend and/or lover that pretty well understands us.  Life is so complex as is human interaction there is no feasible way to expect anyone other than our Higher Power to totally 'get us'. It doesn't matter how much we want it, it's time to understand that we will never be fully understood by anyone except our HP.  In short, time to let that expectation go.
  • To me, this means actually accepting what I can't change, rather than just saying or trying to convince myself that I have 'accepted' it. 
    • To me this requires an understanding of what accepting is.
      • Recognizing the validity/reality of what is to be accepted.
      • Consenting to the reality of what is to be accepted.
      • Words and actions showing that acceptance.
        • Your focus is not on the person/situation.
        • Any thoughts about the person/situation may pop up, but do not linger.
        • You can have feelings about the person/situation, but you just can't live in them.
    • To me this requires an understanding of what not accepting looks like.
      • Saying you've accepted something, but your words give lie to that supposed acceptance. 
        • For example, you say your over someone, yet every chance you get you badmouth the other party.
      • Saying you've accepted something, but your actions give lie to that supposed acceptance.  
        • For example, you say your over someone, yet when you think no one is watching, you stalk them on social media or elsewhere.
      • A tendency to be triggered about the circumstance that needs to be accepted, even if it infrequent.

Courage to change the things I can
  • To me that means recognizing any blocks in the way of making the change.
    • All the courage in the world cannot help if you haven't identified the blocks in the way of change.
    • This may require prayer, meditation, counseling or other means to draw out the nature of the blocks.
  • To me that means being able to push through those blocks.
    • This means a willingness to face any blocks or demons that are in the way.
    • This can mean asking others, including your HP for help, strength or support in facing the blocks.
    • This doesn't necessarily mean waiting until the fear subsides (it may never).
      • It means walking through the fear.
      • It means talking through the fear.
      • It means focusing what is on the other side of the wall rather than the difficulty in climbing the wall.

Wisdom to know the difference
  • Sometimes we know when what we can change and what we can't--and for that matter should and shouldn't--but need to be honest with ourselves.  Wisdom starts with a willingness to be honest with ourselves.
  • Sometimes we don't know the difference and need to ask our HP, meditate, ask for advice, etc. for help in discerning.  In other words, we have to be open to our HP and the resources he places in our path.
  • Gaining wisdom in life isn't a one-time event, but a life long process.  Gaining wisdom over a specific circumstance or situation likewise may occur over over time rather than all at once, though we might have a crystallizing moment.

For me the path to serenity is a long and continuing one.  I still have a long way to go, but I'm still on the journey and am willing to be on that journey for the rest of my life.  Perhaps one of the biggest blocks is wisdom (or willingness) to know the difference, hence the blog title.  Anyway, while I would love utopia, I know I'll never have it in this life, so I work to rest my hope in my HP that He will grant me the first part of the prayer while I keep in mind the second.

I hope you'll take what you can and are able to use out of this blog and add whatever need as in life, "your mileage may very".  Have a blessed day.

- Rich

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Healthy Escapes and Believers of Daydreams

I was listening to The Monkees - Daydream Believer and found it terribly bittersweet.  Sad really.  Music, like life today seems to be complex and often distressing.  It often has an attitude or carries an intense message.  Now, I like many other people appreciate the expression of ideas or thoughts, even ones that aren't comfortable, in the form of music.  But, sometimes I think we live in a world of too much intensity.  It's almost as if we are addicted to intensity in all forms:

  • The 24/7 news cycle.
    • Negativity is hard to avoid.
    • Negativity is repeated and reinforced.
  • Having grown-up ideas/concepts/'decisions' forced upon us at an early age.
    • Inappropriate commercials.
    • Pressed to take sides in adult cultural issues at an early age.
    • Images and sounds of rioting, violence, hate, and terrorism.
  • Broken families are common place.
  • Widespread availability of narcotics and other illicit drugs even to kids.
  • Widespread availability of 'screen' in every form (TV, iPod, cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktops)
Now we've gone through turbulent and divided times before, but it never has life been thrown at us--especially kids--so early, rapidly, repeatedly and recklessly.  It's no wonder kids are growing up into adults addicted to screen, drinking, drugs, porn and the list goes on.  That being said, I'll take the devil's advocate position for a moment before I engage the main subject.


Growing up, my dad would drive us to wherever and I paid only scant attention to the route or the way to get there.  In other words, since I wasn't responsible for getting us there, I didn't care so much.  As an adult, I pay a lot of attention to the routes as I am forced to.   Likewise, perhaps things have always been this turbulent and I was a bit more detached from it as a kid as I largely didn't have adult responsibilities to deal with it--that is until I was around 15, when my parents divorced, but I digress.  In other words, maybe it life seems more complex or intense because when I am more aware and attuned to it as an adult.


In a world so complex, constant and in our face, what can we use to pull back from the intensity and not give into it and all the addictions and hangups it spawns?
  • Exercise and play.  
    • This can benefit our health if not taken to an extreme.
    • This can benefit us psychologically if not taken to an extreme.
  • Reading
    • This can help us to slow down.  
    • Instead of bouncing from site to site or from game to game on screen, it can help to focus and quiet our mind.
  • Retreats
    • Camping--church, family or group.
    • Sweat Lodge
    • Personal growth/interest conferences.
    • Local park
    • Man-cave/she-shed or whatever your space around the house is called.
  • Helping others
    • Assisting with elderly.
    • Assisting with kids.
    • Assisting with the poor.
  • Relax
    • Slowing down the sound and listening to soothing music.
    • When overwhelmed, take a power nap.

These are just a few ideas of healthy escapes.  Maybe I am right?  Maybe the days of daydream believing are long gone?  That being said, if we can find healthy escapes and slow down the pace and intensity, we may not find the nirvana of daydreaming, but we may be able do defuse the intensity and struggle of everyday life a bit.

Just some thoughts.