Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When Is It Best To Let Go?

Have you ever noticed that some things take more effort than others? A workout ... a remodeling project ... even a relationship? So when do you decide how much repeated effort something is worth? It's a fine line to draw and often a difficult decision to make. I'm certainly not an expert, but my guess would be that if you have to continually nag a person, persistently pursue a desired end result, or the work being put into something is too much or too one-sided ... then it's most likely time to let it go.

That's the hardest part though; letting go. If it's a self-chosen project you can accept that you put your best effort in and maybe it's just not the right time or it's simply not meant to be. At least that's what I tell myself every time I try to lose the same 10 pounds (lol). But when it comes to human nature, all bets are off. If I live to be 100 I will still never be able to pinpoint why some people do the things that they do (or in some cases 'don't'), but then I'm sure people could (and probably do) say the exact same thing about me.
I recently listened to a sermon about forgiveness. It's something I've spent my whole adult life striving to do, but truth be told - I struggle. I've asked for forgiveness before and been lucky enough to receive it. I've been asked for forgiveness and I've given it. But, for me, the hardest scenario will always be that one relationship that you can't let go of; that one situation or memory that you simply can't get past no matter how hard you try. You convince yourself that if that one person ever finally acknowledges the wrongs you've been holding on to so tightly that you're ready to extend the forgiveness and move on - but they never do and you find yourself just not being able to let it go. Someone gave me some wise words once. They said, 'To forgive doesn't mean that you have to forget.' That took a while to sink in because I thought if I forgave it wiped the slate clean, as well as the memories from my mind. It's healthy to forgive, but I think it's also good to remember where you came from and how far you've come.
I read somewhere that the greatest sense of forgiveness is accepting the apology that was never offered. Oh how I wish I could master that one. I am working on it though. I am persistent and my intentions are good. The apologies most likely may never come and that's something I need to accept. I need to move on and I need to let it go.
How do you manage to get past your own roadblocks? When have you been able to let it go?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Which Would You Rather ...

Every once in a while I hear a segment on the radio or a TV talk show that asks "Which would you rather ..." Human behavior has been a mystery for hundreds of years. Psychologists will try to figure out and predict how people will react and respond in given situations. Just this week I listened to a radio talk show that was once again asking this question.

There were several scenarios; but none of them too new.
  • Would you rather have good health or money?
  • Would you rather know when the last day of your life would be or just let it happen?
There's one question I've always wondered ... would you rather have the ability to read minds or be invisible? Super hero status aside, I suppose each could have their own distinct advantages, but then the question becomes 'why would you want either one?' If you could read minds you'd always know what people were 'really' thinking and whether or not people were being honest with you. If you could be invisible then you'd be able to observe everything without people knowing you were there; perhaps even discovering which people were really your friends and which ones gossiped about you behind your back. If we're being completely honest, I'm sure everyone has had some point in their life, whether in their personal or professional environment, when they've felt some degree of insecurity. Insecurities and jealousy can be dangerous. Our imaginations can run wild, imagining and believing the worst without any real validations. IF you had the opportunity to know what people really thought would you change the way you lived your life or your behavior based on opinions that were never told to you directly? Many will claim they have thick skin and say that they don't care what people think, but deep down would that be completely true? Can anyone really never care? Is there anyone you know who is that confident 100% of the time?
The reality is that we cannot always change other people; what they say or what they do. We can suggest change, we can imply inappropriateness, and we can hope that people will have integrity and good morals. BUT the one thing we can do, really the only thing, is observe ourselves more closer rather than others. We can change what we do and what we say and how we act and we can change how we are around other people. In the end, we shouldn't be so quick to cast the first stone AND we'll need to dig deep and know that we only need to answer to ourselves and God for our own actions. Let other people's words and actions be just that ... theirs. They'll need to live with the consequences.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Will You Get Your Paczki?

Have you jumped on the Paczki band wagon yet? Growing up I had never even heard of a Paczki. It wasn't until I was engaged to be married that  I was introduced to the bakery phenomenon. I'm not of a Polish decent so I didn't know what the importance or hype or flavor possibilities could even be. That was 32+ years ago. Have I jumped on the proverbial bakery wagon? That depends; I've probably had four of them in my entire lifetime ... but, truth be told, all four were an experience to remember. My fourth Paczki was just this morning when a church member dropped off a fresh box for the morning staff meeting. Thanks Judy!

I'm not one for ooey, gooey fruit fillings so I've always gone with the custard or creme. If calories are not to be spoken of, then I may as well go for the dessert for breakfast approach. Everyone will have an opinion of whether they are great or not-so-great and everyone needs to determine their own limit. For me, it is definitely only one, but I have seen people down four or five in one sitting. NOT something I could or would do, but I'm not one to judge. If you can do it, then go for it - you only live once. You may as well enjoy the ride and the special glazed doughnut perfections.

Are you on board? Will you have your Paczki tomorrow on Fat Tuesday? What's your favorite flavor?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Do You Hold Back?

Have you ever wished you could say or do EXACTLY what you wanted? I'm sure if we gave ourselves that freedom, some of us could easily get ourselves into trouble. They say we should think twice and speak once; probably good advice. IF in some situations, brought on my anger or frustration, we said the first thing that came to mind it could potentially make things worse. But let's say we're talking about those minor inconveniences, the ones that tend to make our blood boil or the little hairs on the back of our necks stick out.

Have you ever been driving in traffic and things were congested and moving slow and you REALLY needed to get some where so you wouldn't be late? Did you ever wish you could 'hover'? You know ... like the space age cars in the old cartoon 'The Jetsons? How cool would that be? You could cruise right along, miss all the pot holes, and glide right above the stop lights.

Maybe you've always had the inner desire to pull someone over and make a citizen's arrest because they didn't use a turn signal when switching lanes multiple times or they insisted on throwing their trash and cigarette butts out the car window. I've noticed a pattern that I tend to complain often about non-courteous drivers; sorry if that offends anyone. Sometimes I sincerely wish I could say out loud what was going through my head, but in today's day and age we need to be careful. You never know when someone's going to stop and pull out a gun because you honked at them. So ... we grin and bear it. It's sometimes safer that way.

Maybe people's lack of sincerity and follow-through bother you. The people who don't finish the job, or disregard deadlines, or walk through life with a haphazard attitude.

Oh, if I could only tell people what I actually thought, my shoulders would probably lower 2" all by themselves, but that's what keeps my massage therapist in business. (lol)

There's a book that suggests we shouldn't sweat the small stuff, but then who gets to define which issues are big or which ones are small? I'm sure everyone has their own unique and personal list.

So, here's my question of the day:
Which do you do better? Grin and bear it? Or not hold back? Good or bad, have you ever gotten yourself in a situation where you wished you had re-do? Perhaps said something you later regretted?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Do It Today

Some blog posts are lengthy and full of explanations and overflowing emotions. Others not so much. Some, like this one, will be short, direct and to the point. Yesterday I had a day filled with mixed emotions; experiencing both some ups and some downs. During the day my husband and I volunteered at a local food pantry and helped to package 30,000 meals. Following we were admittedly a bit tired, but feeling good like we had done our small part to contribute to something bigger; something good. Later in the evening we received the sad news that the son of a good friend had died unexpectedly in a car accident. Our emotions went on an immediate downward spiral.

Death, especially when unexpected, is devastating to those left behind to try and figure out the 'why's' and 'what if's'. There are no warnings and no time for righting any wrongs. Life is fragile, it is complicated, and it is most surely unpredictable. Our friend may never know exactly what caused his son's death and he may be left unsure whether or not he'd said 'I Love You' enough times, but the one thing we can know is that once today is gone so is our opportunity for second chances.
If you want to offer forgiveness or, for that fact, accept it ... do it today.
If you want to tell someone they're special ... do it today.
If you want to make a difference, no matter how insignificant you might feel it is ... do it today.
If you want to change the world (or at least your little corner of it) ... do it today.
There's a saying that suggests you should never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Maybe there's more truth to those simple words than we realize. Maybe we shouldn't overcomplicate things. Maybe we should consider today for the true gift that it is.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Look At The Big Picture

This morning on TV I heard that no one won yesterday's huge Powerball lottery jackpot bringing this Saturday's drawing to an estimated $360 million. Wow! What would you do with that kind of money? Of course, that all depends on whether or not you would actually buy a ticket. You know what they say, "You can't win if you don't play." The humorous part of the report was when the news anchor asked the weatherman if he'd buy a ticket. The younger weatherman squirmed and said, "Powerball? Isn't that the game that costs $2 for a ticket rather than $1?" My husband and I looked at each other and laughed, because we've both had that same response before.

I'll admit I have bought a few tickets over the years, but I'm usually the one standing in line to buy a ticket for the $200 million prize who only buys ONE ticket. The guy behind me has his $20 bill ready in his hand, laughing at me asking, "Ha! You're only buying one ticket? You'll never win." My response is always the same ... they're only going to pick one set of numbers so I'm either going to win or I'm not. I can always find something else to do with my other $18 or $19.

I've heard people actually say that they won't bother to buy a ticket unless the jackpot is immeasurably big, because a smaller jackpot of say $10 to $20 million isn't worth their time. Hmmm, so basically they must already have that much stashed away and they're doing fine? (lol).

So IF you were to buy a ticket and IF the odds were forever in your favor and IF you actually won ... what would you do with the money? Would you travel? Would you buy a new house (if you do I know a great Realtor I can refer you to)? Would you pay off all your bills? Would you share your new-found wealth with family and friends? Would you invest in the future of your church? Would you donate to a charity or two? Would you start a scholarship fund? The possibilities are endless.

You'll never see me taking a wad of cash to a casino or even buying $20 worth of lottery tickets at one time, but YES I will still buy that occasional $1 ticket that gives me a chance to do some extra good in the world. I've had this recurring dream where I'm actually able to go an auto repair shop, sit in the waiting area and observe, and then discreetly go up and pay the bill in full for the young mother who's bouncing a baby on her lap and looking nervous about whether or not she'll be able to afford the repairs for her broken car.

I'm certainly not one to cast the first stone or judge anyone. I'm not going stereotype about the kind of person anyone is or isn't if they buy a ticket. I'm merely a person who likes to make people and situation observations. Nothing more ... nothing less.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Unintended Good Deeds

Yesterday the lower half of Michigan was targeted with a thick white blanket of snow. News reports said this storm was the 3rd worst in the Detroit Metropolitan area's recorded history. At least we have a record to show for the 17" my driveway received during the 24-hour period. Today I was blessed with a compassionate boss though who said, "Stay home and stay safe." Churches don't usually get 'snow days'; actually this was only my 2nd in the last 13 years.

Wintry snowfalls like this one tend to bring out different sides of people; for some it brings out the impatient side ... the side that wants to drive too fast or too recklessly ... the side that convinces themselves that for some reason their time is more valuable than everyone else's. But, if you slow down and observe, you will also notice those whose compassionate sides emerge with an almost radiant glow. They are the ones who take the time out of their already exhausting day to help dig out the stranded motorist or help snow blow the neighbor's driveway.

Yesterday at church my husband leaned over and told me that he had observed someone doing an unintended good deed. A woman headed out to the parking lot to clean her car off. Once it was clean she went to get in and realized it was NOT her car. It was the same make, model and color ... except hers was parked a few spaces away. With the snow coming down, such as it was, it was an honest mistake. She then proceeded to her own car and began the clean off process all over again. Clearly, it could have been an inconvenience for her, but at the same time it turned out to be an unintended good deed. Whoever the first car belonged to got a huge blessing when they went to leave.

Tonight my husband and I drove the 30-minute drive to help our daughter out who lives on a college campus. Her car was buried under more than a foot of snow and needed to be moved so they could plow the parking lot. Needless to say, she now has a shovel of her own and her car is tucked away nicely in the covered parking structure. In the process, though, we joined together as a family to dig out another young female student whose car was also snowed in. I don't mention this to pat ourselves on the back, but rather to point out that we don't always need to search out ways to help our fellow neighbors ... opportunities will present themselves to us when we aren't looking.

Whether it's a snow storm or an ordinary day, be observant of the opportunities that can turn into  unintended good deeds. Those can be the best ones!

What's the most recent unintended good deed you were blessed to witness?