Crossroads

“The decisions we make at crossroads in life don’t just impact us. They can impact generations to come.” ~ Lynette Kittle

A crossroad is an intersection of two or more roads, whether physical or internally, where a crucial decision must be made that will have far-reaching consequences.

Most of you reading this have seen or read at least a little bit of the news lately. Our world is in a sad state of affairs. The list of the problems is very lengthy. Whether we realize it or not, we are at a crucial time not just in our lives but for future generations.

Our ancestors ways of living, our current ways of living and different messages of how to live have come together to meet in the present day. What we do today will affect not just today’s children but also future generations of our children.

To begin making changes, we need to teach our children to be respectful, along with Spiritual Principles, the ability to know right from wrong, and that there are consequences for their actions.

As adults we need to remember to live by these same things that we teach our children. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

“If we want to make this country and even the world great again the silent majority…needs to speak up. They need to speak up and not only say but also do what’s right…Only in doing good can we create and achieve greatness in our communities, country and the world as a whole” ~ Carly Fiorina

Thought for the day: Yes, we truly are at a crossroads now. If we don’t start to fix things in our world…well, I just want to know how the future will be for our future generations.

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Love Yourself – Warts and All

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserves your love and affection.” ~Buddha

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved and cared for others. I never really thought about caring for myself and my needs until the last few years. For about 7 – 10 years I actually hated who I was. I didn’t feel like I deserved love. Sure I got compliments for looking nice, doing a good job or being nice but I figured people were being nice and didn’t really mean it.

How could I help other people if I didn’t at least like myself?

I always second guessed myself until I met someone who changed all that. This person, rather his passing, made me go outside my comfort zone. This was my first step in loving myself. Since I’ve done that, I’ve had lots of complete strangers all over the world compliment my work which has helped me to accept myself a little more each day.

Thanks to the love everyone has given me, I feel love for myself and that love is sent back out again to others. It is the love that is given, shared, received and given back out. It continues going from me to you, to my family, to your family, and on, and on and… It’s a circle of caring and sharing.

Thought for the day…Believe in yourself. Conquer your fears. Dip your toes in the water to test it if you must, but then just jump in. You are not as bad, ugly, or unworthy as you may think you are. Love yourself for who you are, warts and all.

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Impulsivity

“Anger, resentment and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others– it only changes yours” ~ Shannon L. Alder

I’ve had times throughout the years when anger, resentment and jealousy have changed my heart. These were times when I acted on impulse. The problem was that my first thoughts were not exactly my best ones. I was wrong many times and I wronged others around me.

In the past when someone hurt me I got very angry and lashed out at them in a fit of anger. I did or said things that hurt the other person back. Looking back at those days, I realize that I acted like a little girl having a temper tantrum. Some years later, a friend pointed out my character defect of acting impulsively. I became angry with her because she didn’t understand how I felt or what I was going thru. We ended up fighting for a while. Later, when I thought about what she was saying and reflected back on the times I acted out, I realized she was right. I learned that just because “an eye for an eye” is in the Bible, doesn’t mean that it’s right.

Since those days, I’ve learned a little prayer that has helped me. The Serenity Prayer. “(Higher Power), grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” When I feel like acting out, I ask myself some simple questions. What or who can I not change? What or who can I change?

Thought for the day: I cannot change other people or situations but I can change myself and how I act, react, respond or none of the above.

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The Way of the Warrior  

“The warrior who trusts his path doesn’t need to prove the other is wrong” ~ Paulo Coelbo

A Warrior is someone who fights the good fight. Usually the word “warrior” brings to mind a soldier engaging in battle with an enemy. However, anyone fighting the good fight is a warrior whether it’s in politics, religion, or the homeowner battling an onslaught of bugs. Another type of warrior is the champion of peace and integrity. A warrior doesn’t do what right for the good of himself, but rather for the good of others. Any one of us can be a warrior.

Each of us, warrior or not, has a responsibility to ourselves to be better people than we were yesterday. To help us do this, we have an internal compass that points us in the direction of good known as a code of ethics. There are different versions but they are in general; Complete Sincerity, Compassion, Honor, Duty and Loyalty, Heroic Courage, Polite Courtesy, Honesty and Justice. When faced with difficult decisions, it is up us to look inside ourselves to answer the question, “What should I do?”

This code of ethics is just as important in our society today as it was thousands of years ago. This code is woven into our daily lives but we don’t always notice it. Today it’s difficult deciding what’s right and wrong mainly because we are bombarded 24/7 with distractions from all different directions. Among the distractions are our peers opinions of what’s right, misinformation, social media, and our handheld electronic gadgets. When we have strayed from our path, it is important to step away from that noise to find our compass. Listen to what your own compass tell you, not someone else’s.

Thought for the day: To answer the question, “What should I do?” Remember that the easiest solution isn’t always the right solution.

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The Success of Failure

“The pursuit of our dreams is not without any difficulty. Those who triumph have learned to overcome the difficulty.” ~ Lailah Gifty Akita

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t sugar coated things because sometimes that makes matters worse. Truth and reality may be difficult, but deception and misinformation have the potential to kill.

There has been a growing trend in recent years. Many people, myself included, scoffed at it in the beginning. Now that it seems to have picked up steam, it’s not so much a laughing matter. It’s the “everybody gets a prize” theory, even if that person loses. I’ve seen arguments for and against this theory. Now it’s time for a little truth. My next statement might sting a little so brace yourself.

Not everyone who gets a prize wins. Sometimes they actually lose, even if that person gets a prize for losing.

I remember, as a kid, my sister and I played board games with our parents. Sometimes my sister or I would win, but sometimes one of our parents won. When that happened, my sister and I didn’t pitch a fit, flip over the board game or picked up our toys and left. No, we accepted our loss and set the board up to play again.

When I was in elementary school, we had these yearly physical education competitions. I don’t remember winning at many of the events. I didn’t get a trophy, but I got the occasional a ribbon. If I didn’t get a ribbon, I got a certificate for participating. I was bummed out but I didn’t pitch a fit, cry or stomp off the field. I accepted that I wasn’t as good as the other kids and I knew it.

In junior high school, I had really good grades. They were so good that I was in the honor society for 2 years. Starting the following year, my grades weren’t good enough and I didn’t make the honor roll after that. I didn’t lay down a pitch a fit in the middle of the hallway. I took my lumps and accepted that I was going to have to study better and harder.

Then, in high school, I wanted a letter jacket so I could fit in with the cool kids. I knew I could get one if I played sports. So, I tried out for a couple of sports teams but I wasn’t good enough to make the team. I was disappointed, but I didn’t scream and cry or stomp my feet over it. I just practiced and tried harder the next time there were tryouts.

A couple of years later, I found out I could get my letter jacket if I took a certain number of music classes. When it was time to make my schedule out for my senior year with my guidance counselor, she told me some bad news. She informed me that I’d have to give up one of my music classes so I could take another class I needed to graduate. I weighed my choices between graduating and letter jacket. I eventually decided that graduation was more important than a silly jacket, but, just like the other times, I didn’t pitch a fit. I sucked it up and took the class I needed to take so I could graduate.

That year our band was entered into a national contest which was held about 8 hours away. We ended up in 3rd or 4th place. No we didn’t win but we as a team got a little 3” high trophy. Were we disappointed that we lost? Sure we were, but we were also proud of ourselves and how far we made it. By the way, I forgot to mention that we were a very small school, from a small town that no one even heard of. To give you an idea of how small our class was, there was about 80 kids in each grade.

By now you’re probably wondering what my point is to my trip down memory lane. I have a couple of them actually, rather lessons that I learned from not winning. The first thing I learned when I was young is that in life there are winners and losers. Not everyone who participates in a competition gets a prize, and that’s ok. You just practice and try harder the next time you try out.

My second point is that, when I didn’t get rewarded for losing, I actually won in the end. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? So how did I win when in reality I lost? Simple. I learned to not pitch a fit when I lost or didn’t get what I wanted in life because of a quote I heard. “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” by Henry Grantland Rice. The way I played the game showed my character. By not being a sore loser I was humble and I played with integrity.

Finally, and perhaps most important, I learned that sometimes when I don’t win a competition or get what I want, it may be a blessing for any number of reasons. Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Looking back on all those times that I didn’t get a job I really wanted, got dumped by a boyfriend, had my house fire, got divorced, or any other life on life’s terms stuff, I was understandably upset. However, I learned to pick myself up by my bootstraps and either try again or shift gears altogether. Eventually I’ve seen the blessings in each case.

“Practice makes perfect” was a phrase I heard quite frequently from all the adults in my life while was growing up. I used to hate hearing it because sometimes, no matter how much I practiced or tried, I wasn’t good enough. Despite all that, I grew without even realizing it. I learned to become a stubborn, perseverant, independent woman who learned that it really isn’t whether I win or lose, it’s how I play the game.

Thought for the day: I thought I’d close this with a few inspirational and motivating quotes:

“Failure is an opportunity to learn again” ~ Bangambiki Habyarimana

“True success is the achievement of many failures” ~ Válgame

“Don’t fear mistakes, they are your stepping stone to success” ~ Bangambiki Habyarimana

“Success sits on a mountain of mistakes” ~ Bangambiki Habyarimana

“Success in life is not for those who run fast, but for those who keep running and always on the move.” ~ Bangambiki Habyarimana

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The Evils of Social Media

“I don’t get all that social media stuff. I’ve always got other things I want to to like odd jobs around the house. No one wants to hear about that.” ~ Karl Pilkington

“…if your real friends online say or do something, it affects you. But if your online acquaintances online say or do something, it does not. People, on average, have about 106 Facebook friends, but only five or six real friends.” – Nicholas A. Christakis

Ah, social media. Many of us have one or more accounts on one or more of our devices. Yet there are some who still don’t even have an account no matter what their age is. Why is this? Their reply to me is because of all the negativity that’s on there. While I agree with this, I also disagree. Before I go into that let’s briefly look at the history of social media and human behavior for a better understanding

Throughout the ages mankind has had problems communicating with each other. It probably started the first time JQ Caveman didn’t understand what John Doe Caveman said. It continued when someone, perhaps a king, sent a messenger to deliver a message to someone else, and again when man or woman first started writing letters. Fast forward to present day. In about the last 200 years, we’ve had the invention of the telegraph, the telephone, the computer, the satellite phone and the cell phone. With these inventions, new ways of communicating has evolved. Text or instant messaging and social media. The problem? The lack of face to face, human to human contact.

Social media was created as a way for humans to connect to each other wherever they were in the world. You may be surprised to know that social media actually had its earliest beginnings in the 1970’s, believe it or not. Chat rooms and instant messenger programs were the first to be created but due to the lack of people connected to the Internet, networks were limited. It would be a few years before the Internet’s infrastructure and popularity could catch up with the concept of social networks.

In the 1980’s and ‘90’s, development of these platforms along with other newer versions continued to be developed. Internet infrastructure continued improving and the very first site we currently know as social media launched in 1997. Shortly after that the giants we know today we’re launched and the age of social media messaging and posting began. Soon, nearly every person, young and old, started posting, sharing or “liking” everything from shared pictures of family and friends, news articles, words of wisdom and even words of hate.

Enter the human factor that was probably not included into all of the first algorithms of social media. Humans, for the most part, are impulsive creatures. See a nice thing in the store? We buy it. Doesn’t matter if we need it. We buy it anyway. This is a form of instant gratification. This doesn’t only apply to getting what we want, when we want it. It’s also saying what we want, when we want to. We do not take care with our words. When a thought enters our mind, it goes out of our mouth, or fingers when it comes to any form of electronic communication.

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to being impulsive with my words and actions. I seek instant gratification as much as anyone. However because I am aware of this, I work daily to change it.

When it comes to social media, we experience a whole new level of impulsivity and instant gratification. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we can instinctively say anything that comes to mind at any time. We see something that puts a smile on our face, we click the like button, maybe comment on and share it. We see something that angers us, we do the same thing. We probably leave some sort of word vomit for a comment or an ugly emoticon, maybe even share it. But we have a choice today. Do we want to spread happiness or do we want spread anger?

Perhaps the worst part of this is that if we don’t like what we see, even another comment from another user, some of us who don’t normally say nasty things seem to grow a set of stones and leave nasty, derogatory remarks to people they don’t even know. Some people even resort to cyber bullying. Tragically, children and young adults have been known to commit suicide because someone bullied them thru social media. Don’t believe me? Ask the family and friends of a sweet young soul who recently did just that in my community. She killed herself because she was bullied on social media. I saw the social media posts in response to her death. I didn’t even know the young lady and my heart breaks for her and all who are affected by it.

Haven’t we had enough ugliness spread around the world these days? Do we really need more of it?

_________________

I wrote the following one day a couple years ago in a social media post, “What happened to talking either face to face or on the phone with someone? SO MANY words, thoughts, and feelings can be misunderstood and misconstrued by all this electronic communication crap.” This was in response to a fight I was in with someone via,…wait for it…, text messaging. Because I was in a hurry and was busy, I responded to a text message with a short reply. My response was taken the wrong way and, well I’m sure you know the rest. This wasn’t the first time nor will it even the last time I’ll do that. I’m quite certain of 2 things, 1) I’ll do it again and 2) I’m not the only one that this has happened to.

Over the last couple of years I’ve attempted to engage in debates with others over their beliefs or comments that they’ve posted on social media. Particularly during the last presidential election. I found myself getting mad and frustrated because I either couldn’t get the other person to see things in a different light or I was called names by someone I’ve never met in life. I found that all that negativity, drama and chaos was hurting me and my relationships with others so I walked away from it.

It’s just like Nicholas A. Christakis said, “People, on average, have about 106 Facebook friends, but only five or six real friends”. And probably half of those “friends” are high school kids they’ve rarely, if ever, spoken to. The other half are “friends” in some game like Candy Crush or some hate group that one may be a member of. The problem is none of us truly knows how another person really is on the other side of the electronic device we are using. We have no clue how those “friends” truly are in real life. Which brings me to why I left those groups.

In the real world, I do have more friends than a small handful. I also have friends thru social media in every corner of the world. Including places I wouldn’t have expected. We have chatted thru our messenger apps. Although it’s not the same as face to face, I’ve gotten to know some beautiful people in this country and around the world. I’ve even been in friendly debates over issues other than politics – and we remain friends. And while I do post a few things in a number of groups, I have time set aside in the morning to do this. If for some strange reason I can’t get back to my social media for much of the day, that’s ok. It’s not the end of my world. It will still be there whenever I get to it.

So I sold my farm in Farmville, rehomed my pets in Happy Pets and Happy Aquarium, had a cavity fixed from eating sweets treats on Candy Crush and escaped from Mafia Wars. My primary groups and pages are ones that have positive messages to share. Matter of fact I started 2 pages and 1 group that pass messages of hope and inspiration. The page only have almost 1,650 likes and the group only has a couple hundred members but that’s ok. I know that today I try to be the change in want to see in the world. I try to be part of the solution(sharing positively) and not the problem(spreading negativity).

Thought for the day: Today, and everyday going forward, let’s try to either share positive things on social media or just walk away from the negative ones. Let’s spread more love than hate. Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. If we do this, maybe, just maybe, we can turn the tides of hate into brotherly love.

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Double Standards

“I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I’ve known people in my life who’ve said things like, “Don’t lie to me,” and then turn around and do just that. Lie. Then, that same person gets mad over a small white lie. That person may also get mad if parts the story is omitted. An omission is when only parts of the truth are told.

I recently had a conversation with a close friend who told me about someone we both knew named, Roger, who had divorced his wife, Susie. In the years before their divorce, Susie unintentionally put Roger thru the ringer. Roger was a straight shooter and believed in the values and morals that he was raised with. Susie liked to walk the line between good and bad but apparently violated to many of these morals and values. Even tho Susie tried to make amends to him, Roger strayed from Susie and into the arms of another woman, Nancy.

Now this “other woman” was causing her ex husband similar grief that Roger had gone thru before his divorce from Susie. Nancy also goes against many of Roger’s morals and values, but he stayed with her anyway.

Roger is the definition of a hypocrite. A person who preaches one thing, but does the opposite. They pretend to be a certain way, but really act and believe the total opposite. Hypocrites usually talk a big talk but fail to walk the walk.

Thought for the day: When you are judging other people or when you are pointing a finger in judgement at someone, you still have 3 fingers pointing back at you.

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