Life Lessons = Karma?

 
Many times we hear of someone receiving a life lesson and folks nod knowingly and murmur something about karma. From what I’ve gathered, karma is another way of talking about how things all seem to balance out, one way or the other.
In trying to understand why I get an occasional figurative smack to the back of my head – one as recently as Monday evening, I took a look at some things I learned when I first entered the military, affectionately known as the three truths in life. Trust me, the subtle filter is in place!
“Time will tell.” This is usually stated when someone questions whether a decision is the right one or not. Time will let us know whether we’ve made the right decision or whether we need to make an adjustment. A modified dose of karma?
“Some things in life will always smell, no matter what we do.” That science experiment in the office fridge, the dirty diaper filled just moments after the old diaper has been removed, the ‘green air’ emitted by our dog just as guests arrive for a formal dinner… You get the picture. Not sure any of these qualify as karma but it is one of life’s truths that some things really do stink. Feel free to make your own decision on this.
“Water will seek its own level.” I think that no matter what I do, things are going to even out at some point in time. And for me, this is where the concept of karma comes in. Water has a way of moving mountains and making its own way – just look at the Grand Canyon, for example. No matter what we do, water makes its way around and through the structures we might place in its path, often to our detriment. Karma? Probably.
So what has this got to do with problem solving? Sometimes, problems come about because we ignore the three truths in life and try to impose our own will, often to our detriment. Sometimes, we simply have to accept things for what they are and work as best we can with them. Taking that approach can be far less stressful than having to clean up the impact of karma and the life lesson we just had dumped into our lap.
Oh, and my most recent life lesson? Trying to rush the rehab on my left wrist. I thought I was finally ready to lift something that weighed about ten pounds. I was but my wrist wasn’t. I’m repainting the kitchen in a few weeks. Karma!

The Real Start of Spring

Forget the calendar, forget the groundhog – it’s the start of spring training with the reporting of pitchers and catchers, followed by the other players that really signals the beginning of spring. Of course, here in the desert southwest, we got another dose of winter with overnight temps in the mid to upper 30s this week.  For those going through the polar vortex cold and snowy winter, that doesn’t sound so bad. But temps that low with a humidity level in the 10% range have a way of biting right through all the layers and settling directly into your bones. We’ll warm up soon enough and before we know it, the triple digit days will be upon us. But with the start of spring comes a sense of a new beginning. Spring is a reminder that we have come through a period of short, dark days usually accompanied by cold, ice, and snow.
Seeing the desert wildflowers bloom, much like watching the flowers in any part of the country come to life, reminds us that hope always springs eternal. If all those daffodils can weather the multiple feet of snow and ice and with the first hint of the spring warmth, poke their heads through all that cold and bring a smile to our faces with their bright whites and yellows, can we do less? Let’s strive to put the winter dark and cold behind us and move forward into the spring sunshine and warmth. You won’t hear a single word of complaint from me when the streak of triple digit highs comes to spend the summer!

Dedication

There are any number of definitions for the word, “dedication.” I like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition which defines dedication as, “self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty.” (Retrieved from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dedication).

We have examples of dedication all throughout our lives. We see it in students who work through difficult classes and graduate with honors from colleges and universities all across this country. We see it in athletes who are not blessed with natural ability but through hard work and perseverance, they individually achieve a skill level that allows them to excel in their chosen sport. We see it in individuals who experience a horrific tragedy in their lives and turn that devastating experience into something positive. We see it in the dedication and passion of victim advocates across the country, striving to provide assistance, compassion, and understanding to victims of crime and crisis. These dedicated professionals usually see people at the lowest moment in their lives and yet, each one of these victim advocates works to let that victim know that he/she has value and is an important part of the lives of many other people.

Dedication is also seen in the members of our communities who step up and provide safe and secure homes for children who have been abused and/or deeply traumatized. Despite the many challenges these foster and adoptive families face on a daily basis, they are dedicated to making a positive change in the lives of these children. Often meeting challenges that make them want to simply sit down and cry, they take a moment to take a deep breath, and renew their dedication and promise to these youngsters – that somehow, some way, their foster and adoptive parents will make things better.

As members of the community, we can surely help these dedicated individuals by dedicating ourselves to helping them achieve their goals. In difficult times, our communities can come together to make the futures for such youngsters much brighter and far more hopeful.

Dedication to Excellence

An Opportunity

With the new year, we have an opportunity for a fresh start on any number of things – improving things within our organization, starting a new fitness plan, taking up a new hobby or refining one (shooting my age in golf is a dream), learning a new skill, etc.
As leaders within our organizations, we have an opportunity to ensure that all of the tools needed by our staff are now available. We can also, as an organization, provide help and support to any number of worthwhile victim advocacy agencies within our communities.
As members of our community, we can renew our efforts to make a positive change in the lives of children who are or have been in abusive or difficult situations. One thing that we can focus on is learning about the needs of organizations which help families which provide foster care or adopt these children.
Many of these organizations are nonprofit groups which provide a number of services such as counseling to all victims as well families, and providing information about available resources. Some of these organizations exist to increase public awareness and to provide education and training for other support groups, as well as members of the community. Victim advocates provide an important service of insuring that the needs of any victim are appropriately addressed in a timely manner. Advocates provide vital support to victims if a criminal prosecution occurs. These advocates stand by the victims throughout the entire process.
It is important for these agencies to know that they have the support of the surrounding community as they provide these vital services. So what can we do?
We can learn about what agencies and groups are available within our own communities. We can volunteer services or talents that we may have to help these agencies achieve their mission. We can help broadcast their important information to other members within our community. If we can seize this opportunity in this new year, we can make a positive difference in the lives of victims, especially the children.

Peace, Love, and Joy

When kindness and respect become second nature, we can experience an inner peace that brings a remarkable degree of tranquility and serenity to us. I truly believe that when such tranquility and serenity are in full force, we can bring peace into our lives and into the lives of others. This can be one of the greatest gifts that we can ever give.
When peace dominates our lives, we can see in better focus the true meaning that others bring to us. This enhances the love that we feel for our family and friends. This love that we experience is so readily shared with others and quite honestly, is something that is very difficult to describe at times. We just know that things are so much better and our lives are so much richer because of the love that we share with others based upon kindness and respect.
The peace and love which we derive from being kind and respectful not only enhances the love we share with family and friends, but it also results in a sense of joy that, like the love we experience, is so very difficult to describe. It is not, however, difficult to share.
In this Christmas season, I truly wonder how great the peace would be, how rich the love would be, and how great the joy would be if kindness and respect were the foundation for all of our behavior. I can think of no greater joy than a life lived in peace, and enriched by the love of family and friends. I wish all of you the best of a joyous Christmas season, and a kind and respectful New Year.

Respect

Respect (noun) – having a high regard for someone or something or having an admiration for another based upon their achievements, abilities, or personal qualities.
I think we can all agree that it appears that the concept of respect has become lost in the sauce. Respect means that we hold someone in high regard. Like kindness, respect is given with no strings attached. We are simply expressing our admiration for an individual, group, organization, etc. This admiration is based most often upon positive qualities.
I respect Christina Kim of the LPGA. Her professional career is not the stellar career of other professionals on the tour, but I hold her in very high regard because of her courage in dealing with a mental health issue that significantly impacted her professional golfing skills. She hid her pain of severe depression through humor and comedic antics on the course. I especially admire her courage in going public with her issue. And with karma being what it is, shortly after opening up to others about her issue, Christina earned a much deserved LPGA tour win.
I respect the thousands of victim advocates who work tirelessly on behalf of individuals who have become victims of criminal behavior. The professionalism and passion that these individuals show on a daily basis cannot be imagined until you see these individuals come together in a national symposium to recharge their batteries (so to speak), learn from one another, and constantly seek new and better ways to assist victims. It is through their dedication that victims understand and appreciate that they are valued as individuals.
I often wonder how much better our society would be if we all lowered the decibel level and showed more respect. In any disagreement, there is never an invitation to be disrespectful, hateful, or mean-spirited. There is nothing about the concept of respect that requires us to give it blindly. Simply stated, respect must be earned and once given to an individual, that individual must continue to uphold the same standards that earned our respect in the first place.

Kindness

Kindness (noun): Having the quality of being considerate, generous, and/or friendly.
Acting with kindness requires very little effort on the part of the giver. At one point in time, it was a gift that was given abundantly, with no strings attached. When shared, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Being on the receiving end of an act of kindness can make a person’s life so much better. In turn, that person may want to share the kindness with others. That’s what used to happen and no one thought anything wrong with sharing kindnesses. However, in today’s world and social media, not so much.
The anonymity of the Internet allows folks to broadcast hurtful, unkind, malicious, and false statements with no fear of being caught and held accountable. Regardless of intent or agenda, there is really no place in our lives for hatred and unkind behavior. Choosing to be kind can make such a positive difference to our workplaces and in the lives of our family and friends.
Contrary to what some might have us believe, being kind to someone is not a weakness. In fact, we need to realize and appreciate the strength of character it takes to be kind, especially when confronting hatred or unrelenting division. In the name of all that is decent, we must hold ourselves and one another accountable so that in our time, hatred and unkind behavior can once and for all be eliminated, replaced by the uncompromising generosity of kindness.

Respect and Honor

Today, 11 November 2018, is Veterans Day in the U.S, and the 100th anniversary of the guns of the “Great War” going silent all across Europe. If we were to believe the TV commercials, radio ads, and newspaper inserts, this day is all about what fantastic sales are going on and what a great price we can get on virtually anything we want to buy.
But I think it is important that we stop thinking about today as nothing more than a great day to go buy things. I happen to think the same thing about Memorial Day. Both of these days are set aside to honor the military. But how many of us know what the significant difference is between the two, other than one falls in May and one falls in November?
We celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. This is a special holiday set aside to honor all the men and women who died while serving in the military. The purpose of this day is to provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the service and patriotism of those who gave their lives to protect and defend our nation.
In contrast, Veterans Day is a day set aside to recognize all those individuals who have served in this country’s armed forces. Originally called Armistice Day, over the years and generations, Veterans Day has evolved into a recognition and celebration of the service and contributions of the members of our military. It is not simply recognizing those who are currently serving. But rather, it is the day to acknowledge the service of every military veteran.
Such service by our active duty and military veterans would not be possible without the love and support of their families. We need to acknowledge that families are the backbone of support for many veterans and active-duty service members.
So, for one day at least, let us strive to come together as a grateful nation to honor those past and present military veterans who made a contract with our nation, payable up to and including their life, to protect and defend those very liberties which we all hold so dear.

A New Approach?

Have you ever had the experience of opening the fridge to the smell of some science experiment going really south on us and the smell is enough to knock an elephant off its feet at a distance of half a mile? Obviously, we can’t leave that until the weekend when we’d planned to clean the fridge, so we attend to it right there and then. But as we do so, we find still other problems living in our fridge. Now we do a thorough cleaning and a couple of hours later, our fridge is sparkling clean and a healthy place to once again store our perishables.
What if we treated issues within our organizations the same way we approached finding the source of the smell and fixing things so our fridge was again safe for food storage? Do we work to identify potential issues before they erupt? Or do we wait until the issue goes from a molehill to a mountain? Once an issue is identified, we must address it effectively so that it is completely resolved. We don’t simply address the symptom (yes, let’s throw out that bag of salad we were saving for lunch next week, only “next” week was actually last week and now it’s changing into a liquid version of itself. And oh, good grief! The bag is leaking all over the place!)
Getting to the source of the problem quickly and developing effective resolutions can prevent issues from developing that can consume all our time and energy – time and energy better spent on insuring quality productivity and customer service. Focusing on identifying the issue correctly also helps prevent us from addressing only the symptoms. Throwing away the outdated bag of salad addresses the symptom but doesn’t address the problem (we need to pay attention to what’s there and for how long.) Now off to organize the freezer…..

Glad to Oblige

I don’t usually write about personal issues but I’m going to make an exception.
This summer I began to experience some serious issues with my left thumb and wrist. For the vast majority of folks on this planet, that would be no big deal. Except – I’m left handed. I’ve learned to do quite a few things with my right hand but when push comes to shove, it’s my left hand – my dominant hand – that I go to. Only now I can’t, at least for a minimum of another 3 – 6 months. I’m being forced to be right handed and I don’t like it! I’m not good at it. It frustrates the heck out of me, and nothing I say or do is going to change things. Surgery is scheduled and the recovery is probably going to raise my frustration level even higher. But I have to be scrupulous in following the instructions of my surgeon and my physical therapist. If I mess this up, I’m going to be in a world of hurt like I’ve never been before.
Probably the vast majority of you all reading this are not facing this specific situation. But you are facing situations that are, in their own right, just as serious and just as troublesome. No amount of fussing, worry, or snapping of our fingers is going to change things. So what’s it going to take?
I think we need to appreciate that we’re experiencing a difficulty. We also need to appreciate that we really can master the situation with some help. Asking for help is very hard for me and the words literally get stuck in my throat. Maybe some of you feel the same way. We’d rather bull ahead and try to do for ourselves just like before, only to find ourselves in more of a pickle than we really can handle right now. I’m learning to recognize that friends and neighbors are a part of my life and they’re there for a reason, just as I’m in their lives for a reason. Relying upon others for help on occasion doesn’t diminish my independence or self sufficiency. It simply means I’m a part of a great circle of treasured friends and neighbors who would very appreciate my letting them help me on occasion. This time, I’m glad to oblige.