Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Clint and Bitty took a chance, and so will I..wanna join me?

Last Saturday, I attended the wedding of Clinton, a young man I have known since he was a child. Obviously a special day for that reason.

But also interesting for the diversity of the wedding party, the simplicity of the ceremony, and the fact that the mother of the groom arranged the marriage.

Yeah, you heard me.

Okay, it wasn't an "arranged" marriage akin to those in India or China. Actually it is a cute is the short version:

Susan, mom-of-groom was having a marathon shopping day, stopped at a convenience store for coffee - engaged in conversation with Brittany, the young woman behind her, as they waited in a LONG line - in the course of conversation answered "yes" to the Brittany's "do you have any kids" question- got coffee, said goodbye, left the store - felt the tug of a possible opportunity - pulled beside Brittany's car and suggested she might want to send Susan's son a message on Facebook...and Clinton and Brittany are married.

I love that story for so many reasons. Susan is my dear friend and the story so typical of her - and that makes me smile.

But more than that, I love the story because it reminds me that life is about choices and chances... I get to decide and I live with the results.

If I asked if you wanted to miss a great chance, you would undoubtedly say "no." But how many do we unwittingly miss?

Think about simple things, like standing in line. Do we see it as an opportunity or an inconvenience? I generally must remind myself that 5 minutes of waiting is probably not going to change my life significantly. But it could be a chance to give someone a good word, take a moment to pray , or plan the next step in my day.

How about you? Do you wait patiently or waste energy being irritated?

It has taken conscious effort for me to be open to folks around me, especially strangers. First, because I am inherently shy. Second, because I have at least 3 other conversations going on with myself at any given time. But being present in the moment is important... important to others... important because proximity is power and I must be aware that a great opportunity could be right beside me!

The most important lesson for me, however, is in seeing possibility where others may doubt. Susan listened to the nudging and sought out Brittany before she pulled away. Brittany took a chance and sent Clintona message.And Clinton responded.

Each of them could have refused to participate in this process. What man wants his mom setting up dates with a chick in a convenience store? And what woman wants to check out a man whose mom is soliciting dates for him while waiting for coffee? Seriously! Even if she is wearing Chanel earrings!

But they all took a chance. A chance tempered with wisdom and caution, to be sure. But still, a chance.

And I wonder if I have missed opportunities because I wouldn't take a chance? Because I ignored the nudge to extend a hand in friendship. Because I was too busy to take a class, too unsure to apply for a new job, too wrapped up in today's immediate issues to nurture my dream.

How about you?

Sometimes I am so consumed by the URGENT ( as seen by me and others in my life) that I lose track of the IMPORTANT.

How about you? Have you ever started your day with plans to spend at least a portion of time nurturing a dream, but get so wrapped in demands of the day that your dream is ignored? Spent years doing that? And now you think the opportunity is gone?

Sometimes I listen to well-meaning people who say that what I want to do, who I want to meet, where I want to go, will never happen. Too expensive, too time-consuming, too unlikely.

How about you? Have you missed opportunities because you listened to people who don't choose to nurture their dreams?

Sometimes I listen to the opinions of others, even when I feel a connection to someone. Or I am still compelled by the "don't talk to strangers" rule that really only applied until I became a young adult.

Here's the key; when I know who I am, whose I am and what I am seeking in life, I can be open to all possibilities, and yet, not be moved from my path. When I am comfortable with myself, the positive opportunities will shine and the false ones will not lure me.

Do I know myself well enough? Am I comfortable in my skin and stable enough to allow new things or people in without being moved from my path?

Do you?

I believe it deserves some thought. I saw what taking chances did for Clinton and Brittany...and I don't want to miss out on any good thing!

Thanks for reading...comments welcome!

BP =)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Greta Garmin, God, and my sense of direction

Have you noticed that folks have strong opinions about the influx of technology?

It is true that cell phones, gaming devices and iPods can be intrusive and/or exclusionary. Very true. They weren't designed to be a nuisance, but some users make them so, although not always maliciously. Hard as it is to imagine, some people simply don't think about the device being annoying.

Personally, I am more bothered by a television that drones loudly and constantly than by cell phones or iPods. I do have to shake my head in church or the theatre, not when the first cell phone rings - that could easily be an oversight - but when the SECOND one rings. Really? When the first one rang, you couldn't check to be sure your phone was off? Really?

But I digress.

My point is that technology is not inherently bad. Take the GPS. Very helpful tool when used properly - "properly" meaning the destination is entered correctly and the driver listens.

I am amused by folks who either haven't adjusted the GPS settings to their liking or simply don't believe what the guide is saying. "Fastest" and "shortest" may be different routes. "Shortest" and "avoid road construction" are, naturally, never the same route! Destination and route settings are equally important.

More than once I have had this conversation:

Passenger: "I don't think she(Greta Garmin) knows where she is going!"                                                    Me: "She knows where she is going"                                                                                              Passenger: "I don't think so. I've never been this way before"                                                                    Me: "She KNOWS where she is going!!"

If you set it right, Greta will get you there. She will. If you set it right.

I was in North Carolina recently for a family function. Six of us were in my uncle's vehicle returning from an event. Driving. Driving. Finally someone asks him what destination he entered when we left the event. He answered "Home" like it was a stupid question. He thought "Home" meant the last place you were, that "Home" would take us back to the hotel. Fortunately we were able to pull off quickly, stop driving to Pennsylvania and start back to the hotel. Incorrect destination.

I am no longer intimidated by the prospect of traveling to an unfamiliar destination because I trust Greta Garmin to get me there. And because she does so in direct fashion, I am becoming more familiar with areas that once left me confused. The dots are connecting.

So now I am shopping for a Garmin that is controlled by the Holy know, for my life. There could be a different model for every belief. Buddha model, Mother Earth model, etc. It would be a big seller.

Don't misunderstand. I am not saying I think I am flying alone out here. There is direction given. Accurate, complete direction.

But I would like the audible voice that says, "Drive to highlighted route" then shows me a picture. A PICTURE for goodness sake.

I want the voice that says, "In 2.3 miles turn right/turn left/exit highway."

I want to hear, "Recalculating" so I will know I have goofed up.

I know...I know. Part of the process is that I must have faith and learn to listen closely and discern. But sometimes I just don't want to. I JUST WANT A LIFE GARMIN. Darn it, anyway.

Don't you?

Wouldn't you like to enter multiple tasks for the day and be given clear, audible instructions on how to most efficiently proceed.

How about a map and an audible voice telling you what options you have when the road is torn up and impassable? Wouldn't that be helpful?

I don't want to be a robot or unthinking person. I wouldn't use it all the time. But when I am traveling down unfamiliar roads, it would be handy.

So, if some inventor could get busy on that, I would appreciate it. The marketing would be a cinch: "Audible, easy to follow directions from the Creator of the World." Who's not going to go for that?

Of course, I will have to adjust the setting and then do the hardest part...LISTEN. He does, after all, know where I am going. He knows the best way. He does. And He will get me down paths I have never traveled, when I listen.

Oh, one more thing...I really don't want the features that tell me how much of the journey I have left or when I will arrive. I would just as soon be surprised that the "Home" button was used as the destination.
Just saying...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dream, shoes that don't fit, and other significant things

Two significant events have taken place in my life recently. I had my first motivational speaking opportunity. AND I finally put the brown loafers in the Goodwill bag.

Unrelated? One less significant than the other? Not to me. They each represent a shift in thinking, a turning of the tide, if you will.

First, the brown loafers. They were stylish, trendy, and on sale. Still not inexpensive, but discounted nonetheless. You know how sometimes shoes fit your foot but don't feel right. And you think once you wear them they'll feel better. Yeah, you've been there. And they never feel right. But you keep them and keep them and keep them.

More about the shoes later...

For years I have dreamed of being a writer and motivational speaker. So many times, the little voice in my head and the Voice that holds my heart whispered to me that I was gifted to write and speak words that could teach and inspire people.

Maybe you have a dream that has been delayed or ignored? You can see it, you feel the excitement of it... but something keeps it just out of reach.

FEAR. Fear keeps it out of reach.

Do you disagree? I did for a long time.

I said I didn't have the money, didn't have the time, didn't know where/how to start, didn't have anyone who would help me.

All lies rooted in fear.

Do you disagree? I did for a long time.

I wish I could tell you there was an earth-shattering event or word from someone that changed everything - a blazing moment like that would be a much better story.

Instead it was a series of small steps, most of which I can't even name, that lead me to a place of "OOOOHHHH, now I get it"...that lead me to recognize the fear.

Thoughts of "lack" (money/time/help) are unnecessary energy drains...everything you and I need to make our dreams come true is already available. Our doubts have simply kept it away.

Don't believe me? Do this: take 3 days and listen to your own conversation (both spoken and internal), and to the people around you. What you will undoubtedly hear is fear, lack, doubt, lots of negative energy being passed around. It is a virus that infects you UNLESS you are aware and willing to CHOOSE something different.

For me, the fear came from not fully trusting myself or God. It came from listening to the voices around me. Please understand, I did not (and you probably will not hear) people specifically saying that you are not good enough. What you will hear is a pervasive amount of "lack," an attitude that believes only special people reach their dreams while the rest of us must drag through life being satisfied with a job we hate it, being resigned to a body that is unhealthy, being burdened by dreams that have died.

Don't buy into the lie. Listen to Power that created you and the voice in your head.

That's what I did when I said YES to a speaking engagement even though I hadn't started putting thoughts on paper. I said YES even though I lacked the details - but the details came, and it was successful and exhilarating and a first step. On paper I don't have a second booking...but the voice in my head and the Voice that holds my heart tell me there are so many offers I won't be able to accept them all. I choose to believe it and put my faith and energy toward that dream!

Believing is what I did when I left corporate America to be a fulltime writer. I listened to the two voices that love me most- mine (finally!) and God's (always!).

It's also what I did when I put the brown loafers in the Goodwill bag. I stopped listening to the fashion police and my friends who had the same shoes, and I listened to my feet.

As I did, I wondered what I might have missed because I listened to others. A restaurant that sounded good, a movie with an interesting trailer, a book with an enticing excerpt...and I passed because a reviewer said "thumbs down". Or, more importantly, the potential friendship I missed, the witness I didn't share, the witness I didn't hear, when I allowed the voice of someone else in my life to discourage me.from embracing another.

Please understand: I still listen to what others have to say. BUT I weigh it against my dreams, against the voice in my head and the Voice that holds my heart...

and I don't push my dreams aside...and my feet don't hurt.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mulch doesn't hide onions, and other life lessons

It is one of my great joys each year- planting vegetables, choosing annuals, watching everything come to life.

I have given much thought and time to the arrangement of my perennials...some people move furniture, I move perennials. I am on a mission to have color from April-October, so choosing the annuals is an important task...and lots of fun. My grandmother and mother passed on their flower gardening knowledge and tricks, and I humbly say I have a proficiency for the flower gardens.

Vegetables and I have a more contemptuous relationship. After many years of struggling with soil conditions, the garden was reduced last year to a 4x8 raised bed, surrounded, of course, by a new flower garden.

It worked well, and the new look received many compliments. The only problem was the onions.

Two years ago someone gave me a LARGE set of onions. I planted the whole set, and as in past years, the return was less than stellar.

Who knew they would thrive when covered with landscape fabric and mulch!!

So now, at least once a week, I attempt to evict the onions from my flower garden. They stubbornly remind me that I put them there, and thus am responsible for slowing digging them out. I tried more mulch, to no avail. Nothing seems to sufficiently cover them.

And then I remember how much I dislike when that happens in real life. Don't you?

Don't you hate when the unwanted onions in life won't just go away?

Sometimes you forget they are there, sometimes you simply WANT to forget. So you buy landscape fabric, and mulch and beautiful flowers, hoping no one will ever see the onions again.

When they start to poke their heads up, you immediately break them off - removing them from sight but leaving the root intact. And soon they are back.

Sometimes I have onions in my life. Do you?

Persistent little suckers that keep coming up. The person I hurt with no remorse or apology, the one I haven't forgiven. Things God wants me to do...things he wants me to stop doing.

Am I alone in feeling like that?

I can ignore. I can yank off the top. But none of that works, not for me anyway. The flower garden still looks good. Not great, with onion tails everywhere, but still good. And in truth, you have to be right beside the garden to even see the onions coming up. But they still exist. They still suck up nutrients the flowers could be getting. They still interfere.

The immutable law of nature, of God, of the universe is that sow = reap. Always.

Sometimes I like that law.

Sometimes I don't because it reminds me that I need to make adjustments, make amends, do some digging. Or accept the same result over and over. For me and the people I hurt.

So I gotta go now...have my digger in hand...the onions are doomed.