Have you ever heard the term, “the whisperer”? Whenever someone has mastered a relationship with another being, like horses, dogs, or people, they are known as the “horse whisperer” or “dog whisperer”. Most spend too much time and energy trying to master others, when what they need to do is master themselves.
Mastery is defined as control or superiority over someone of something. Most people like to feel in control. They control their environment, people, pets, and life experiences, but how about their inner most self?
Are you out of control? When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Do you like how you feel about yourself? Do you go to bed at night with regret? Maybe you wish you could control your eating or stop wasting time in front of the television. Perhaps you wish you could control your temper and learn to relax more. Whatever the issue, you feel like you can master many things in life, except your own inner being. What can you do?
Health, we all take it for granted until we lose it. Ask anyone who is sick right now. Our health is something we all know is important, yet we neglect it. I’m one of those people. I can be healthier, which is why I’m focusing more on my health this year.
When our vehicles wear out, we replace them. We toss a pair of old shoes when they lose their value and think nothing of it; however, we cannot replace our bodies. What we have is what we get until we take our last breath. I will turn 44 this year and I know my health will become of greater concern with each passing year. I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and wish I took better care of myself, which is why I’m dedicating the first few blogs this year on health, for I know it’s something we all must manage to lead long and fulfilled lives.
Was 2016 a disappointing year for you? Maybe you lost a loved one or separated from your spouse. Perhaps you lost your job or your finances took a big hit. Maybe it was an uneventful year and you just feel like you’ve fallen into a rut and are merely existing and have lost a zest for life.
Whatever the reason, you are stalled going into 2017 and even feel anxious about your future. There were times in my life when I experienced great frustration. I felt like I was putting in the hard work with no results. I questioned my path and even lashed out at my loved ones as anger boiled in my gut, because life was not unfolding the way I hoped. You may be feeling something similar right now and are not sure what to do next. So, what do you do, when life has stalled and you become frustrated or depressed?
I woke up from an afternoon nap and strolled to the kitchen to grab a soda. It’s a daily ritual I have, to kick-off the second half of my day. My body craves the caffeine infused carbonated drink to get me going so I may have the energy and focus to accomplish a full load of tasks and work waiting for me down in my office. I open the refrigerator and stare at the bright can of soda waiting for me to consume it. I sense the saliva forming in my mouth in anticipation of the sugary liquid hitting my taste buds. I feel a headache brewing within my skull, demanding that I satisfy it with a jolt of caffeine. It’s in this moment that I realize it’s time to give up soda.
We get caught up in acquiring things. We collect pictures, artifacts, friends, but mostly we collect habits. We fill our lives with them. We numb our brains with entertainment “shows” that we must consume, so we stream them over our favorite mobile device and sacrifice time better spent elsewhere. We hang on to bad relationships and form horrible eating habits. Our lives become overflowing with garbage that we allow to penetrate our souls.
I’m no different. I just finished a two-month binge watch of the entire six seasons of Game of Thrones. I drink coffee in the morning and a soda in the afternoon. I enjoy eating at Wendy’s and love my pizza. I make unhealthy choices and allow them to creep into my daily routine, but it’s moments like I had a few weeks ago that I recognize it and become faced with a decision. What’s more important to me? Comfort or long term health.
Christmas is a beautiful holiday. I love everything about this time of year. It’s a time of giving, reflection, love, family, and rest. Most of all, it’s a time of hope.
Can you imagine life before Jesus? I don’t think we ponder this question enough as Christians. We take a lot for granted in our lives, but none more than the gift of the living Christ. I would not characterize myself as overly spiritual, in fact, spirituality tends to bother me. I believe Christians should spread the good news through actions more than words. Live like Jesus and the message will resonate in this world. But what does it truly mean to “live like Jesus?”
My friend, Tim, recently shared a story of love and passion. He recounted the memory when he decided to marry his girlfriend, Jen. Just three months into the relationship, he knew immediately that she was the one and he could not imagine a future without her by his side.
Loaded with caffeine and fueled with the passion of young love, Tim jumped in his car and drove all night, just over 1,000 miles from Indiana to Colorado to meet with Jen’s father to ask for his permission to marry his daughter.
It was awesome to experience Tim tell the story, because I could hear the music in his voice and could see the twinkle in his eye as he remembered the feeling of gaining the approval of Jen’s father and starting the next chapter in his life. He expressed the exhilaration he felt when he discovered the woman he would spend the rest of his life with on this earth.
I love Tim’s story, because it gives us a taste of the power of passion. Nothing was going to come between Tim and his love, Jen. Not a 2,000-mile roundtrip journey, the elements, or the weariness and long mind-numbing hours in the middle of nowhere along I-70 as he made his trek to Colorado.
I can imagine the emotions and thoughts running through Tim’s mind and heart as he drove 32 hours to Colorado and back. I imagine Tim’s thoughts and soul were filled with joy and anticipation as he began his life with his soul-mate. I wasn’t there with him on this journey, but I’m certain there was one thought that never entered his mind. I guarantee he never experienced doubt.
Several years ago, I began following and reading famed author and leadership guru, Dr. John C. Maxwell. I’ve learned a lot from his books, classes, and lectures. He teaches the laws and principles on human dynamics and influence. This topic always fascinates me, because I discovered early in my life that relationships matter and that if I wanted to become successful, then I would need the help of others.
In his book, Winning with People, Dr. Maxwell outlines several principles in managing and growing healthy relationships that matter. One such principle is the “Boomerang Principle”.
The principle states, “When we help others, we help ourselves.” Or, as Andrew Carnegie put it, “No man becomes rich unless he enriches others.” It’s almost counter-intuitive to our survival instincts, that we must first help others in order to help ourselves; however, that’s the power of the boomerang principle. Like laws of physics demands that a boomerang returns to us after we toss it, human dynamics demands that the investment we make in people must return to us as well.
It makes sense to set a budget for your finances, right? It’s simple really, reconcile what you earn with what you spend. If you spend too much, then adjustments are necessary. If you want to spend more money than is budgeted in one area, then you must decide to take money from another area.
Shopping is easy as well. All the products sit nicely on the shelves and have price tags displayed so you know what it will take to purchase them. You know exactly the cost to own an item. That’s simple and straightforward.
It’s too bad life is not like that. Money is a valuable resource; however, it’s only a small part of the equation. It takes a myriad of resources to successfully navigate life such as time, energy, and integrity. Every choice has a cost associated with it, we’re just generally horrible at assessing those costs.
Why don’t we budget our energy or time like we do our money? Wouldn’t it be nice to see the cost of our decisions neatly displayed in all facets of life, like the price tag on a new shirt at the store? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could see how much energy it would take to pursue an activity and how much energy that would leave in our budgets for the rest of the day or week? How about knowing exactly how much time a task will take and how it might deplete our time budget? Alas, we are horrible at managing our energy and time and all the other costs associated with life, but why?
My mother, a wildly successful business woman, had a saying that stuck with me, “Always leave someone’s home, before they’re ready for you to leave and they will always ask you back.”
It’s a very simple phrase, but unbelievably powerful. We are fickle in our relationships and can become bored and tired of each other quickly. I once had a mentor state, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The more we learn about each other and our flaws, the less respect we have for each other. It’s easy to admire someone from afar, until you see them up-close and discover they’re riddled with flaws and faults, just like you and me.
For my mother to be successful in business, she had to spend countless hours in other’s homes. She mastered the art of timing and knowing when it was time to part ways. She learned to focus on a need and serve others enough so they would welcome her back into their lives.
I recently had great conversation with a colleague, Denise. She’s in the process of earning her degree in Computer Science. She works full time and is forced to complete her homework for three classes late into the night, often sacrificing sleep as she finishes up her studies at 2:00 am.
I asked her if she liked coding and programming, at which she quickly replied, “I hate it!” I was taken aback by her response, since she was majoring in Computer Science, I assumed she would love to work with code.
“I will sit and stare at the endless lines of code and try and figure out what I’m doing wrong.” She continued. “My brain feels like mush and I get so frustrated when I can’t figure out what I’m missing.” She shook her head and crossed her arms and frowned as she recalled many frustrating nights being stuck on a particular software code that wasn’t working out for her.
“Finally, I would contact my instructor and he would advise me to shut off my computer, walk away and allow my brain to slow down. I would take a break and then get back to the project. My instructor would then ask me, ‘Denise, do you see it?’” She dramatically slapped her hand on her forehead, her eyes widened as she recalled her memory of the interaction with your instructor.
“Damn! I forgot a semicolon!” Her eyes narrowed and she smiled at me. “Once I put in that stupid semicolon, that stupid program would work. It was that simple!”