Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Four Observations

Want a better life? Pay attention to these observations:

  1. Your health is usually taken for granted. Actually, it's the most important thing you have. Without it; you can't do anything.
  2. Your family and friends are most important when you're facing a crisis.
  3. When you're in a crisis, you realize the importance of God.
  4. The things we think are important are actually small,  compared to other things like your health and well-being.
Start today to consider what's most important to you. You may be surprised at how your priorities change, and how much richer your life becomes.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 15)

When most people need advice, they go to their friends first because friends accept them and usually agree with them. But that is why they may not be able to help them with difficult problem. Our friends are so much like us that they may not have any answers we haven't already heard. Instead, we should seek out older and wiser people to advise us. Wise people have experienced a lot of life -- and have succeeded. They are not afraid to tell the truth.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Breaking Things Down

One of the skills that I’m most proud of is breaking a task down. It was something I learned years ago in my Educational Psychology class. As future teachers, we were taught the importance of breaking a task down into smaller taks. The purpose? When you have to teach anyone a task, you have to be familiar with the smaller taks that are involved. A good teacher , or life coach, looks at a task and thinks, “How can I break this BIG task down  into smaller tasks  so that one can be successful?”

Case in point >> About 20 years ago I made the decision to travel west for 6 weeks. As a teacher, I got 11 weeks off to regroup for a new class in the fall. While many of us welcome 11 weeks to regroup -- some of us dread it (especially those who need something to keep us busy and on task).

With the help of my counsellor, I started planning 6 months beforehand. I did things like buy luggage, call the Motor Club to plan my itinerary; get the car tuned up; get new tires etc. In addition, I had to psychologically prepare myself for something I had never  done before -- namely, travel alone.

The day finally arrived and as I left my surroundings, I grew anxious in how this would all work out. Needless to say, I was successful with my trip. It took me 6 months to process what I actually saw, and HOW I did it. Many times, we lose sight of our process. We do a task well, but have no idea on the small skills it took, to get us to the finish line.

I’m a big believer in the principle that our lives are in an “earth school.” We all come to earth to learn lessons that help us grow  emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We grow by passing the tests, or challenges that come upon us. The skills we learn in one task (or life situation), can be helpful to us when we face the next life lesson. Think about what current life lesson you’re in. Is it overwhelming? Maybe you’ve lost sight of some of the skills (i.e patience, time management, organization) that you’ve used (and mastered) in the past that are important to this new situation. It’s just a matter of breaking things down.

Question for You: What current situation requires you to re-activate some skills you’ve used in the past?

Focus: Life, spirit, life skills

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Use Your Wisdom

Everyone of us has wisdom. It lurks deep within. The trick is to tap into it and use it. Wisdom involves quieting the mind. It allows your thoughts to come to you. When wisdom is present; it's as though clever and appropriate thoughts come out of no where. Using your wisdom makes your life easier and eases your stress level.

The next time you're struggling with something, quiet your mind and access your wisdom. You may be surprised at how quickly answers come to you. Your wisdom is a powerful tool. Learn to listen for it; and trust it!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 14)

Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes, it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps and schedules, and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Redefining Love

For the first 20 years of my life I didn’t hear the words, “I Love You!” or  “I’m proud of you!” or “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” I grew up in a “conditional” love environment. That’s “code” for “I’ll love you if you bring home good grades and are a good boy all the time.” In addition, my home life had a lot of  verbal and physical abuse in it. That’s code for “You’re a dumb motherfucker. I’m gonna beat the shit out of you.” When you observe others and see something different (i.e. kindness and affection), you wonder how to attain that. The first time I said “I Love You” to my aunt, she walked right past me like she didn’t hear it. She was on her way to work. When she left, I thought maybe I said the words wrong. I say that honestly. I learned later that my mom and her, associated love and affection, to being “hit.” Fucked, I know!

It took me a while to understand that when you grow up without those words (or that kind of validation) that it would be hard to say it/model it, in your family. I would think that if you come from an environment where you’ve never heard the words, that on a deep level you’d think, “I’m unlovable.” Since I didn’t grow up with a healthy model for love, I’ve struggled with the concept of what  love really is. As an adult, I’ve struggled with saying it; even writing it, on cards and letters.

In counseling, I learned a new model for what respect, kindness and validation are. In addition, I learned the importance  of emotional intimacy and disclosure. I’ve applied it to colleagues, friends and students. Some friends have misunderstood my actions for love. I’m stuck here because I BELIEVE that ALL people need to be treated with dignity, respect and kindness. These are basic human traits that we ALL need.

Many of the women I know have taken my emotional intimacy/disclosure and have “run with it.” I don’t mean that in a good way. One of the patterns I noticed (and subsequently stopped), is that many of these women were in relationships with men that didn’t provide it. They’d make a point of being with me to “suck it out of me.” Then, they’d run back to their husbands and boyfriends, and “carry on as usual.” That’s code for “I short changed myself with this guy. He doesn’t have a clue about being intimate but I’m stuck. More importantly, he has a big dick and fucks well!” (I’m serious here.)  It took me years to understand that being “love starved” was universal. It was a matter of looking within to “get” why I was so frustrated.

Since this has been an issue for me my entire life, I’ve decided to do something healthy -- to create my own definition (and say the words,”I love you” to people who fit it). So far, I’ve  decided on the following criteria: 1) Someone who has my back (genuinely) and treats me kindly. 2) Someone who takes time for me and builds me up with emotional support. 3) Someone who challenges me to be a better man or human being. 4) Someone who wants to be with me because my presence (and energy) brings them up. 5) Someone who listens to me without judgment or bias. 6) Someone who trusts my emotional closeness and won’t take it and run, (leaving me empty and abandoned). 7) Someone who trusts their emotional closeness with me. 8) Someone who I truly feel blessed by. 9) Someone who is introspective and observant of people’s behavior(s). 10) Someone who is on a spiritual quest. WOW! That’s a lot.

I like my new definition and have recently told someone, “I Love You” based on its criteria.
You know what? It felt odd, yet right, all at the same time!

Question for You: Do you have trouble with expressing affection?

Focus: Emotional Intimacy