Tuesday, April 28, 2015

To 'Friend' or 'Unfriend'

I am not sure how many of my readers are active on Facebook; although to read my blog you obviously have at least Internet access. On Facebook you have the ability to create a personal page; people can request to follow you by being your 'friend'. Within the lapse of a second and the mere click of a mouse you can now increase your 'friend' base. The next question would be how many of your Facebook friends do you actually know? Are all 272 or 843 (which is possible if you're a college student) of them actually friends, merely acquaintances, or perhaps just friends of friends. The thing about being friends with someone on Facebook is that while they will see all of the well thought out posts, funny anecdotes, and whimsical pictures you've posted on your page ... you also get to see EVERYTHING that they post on their page. And there can lie the dilemma.
To 'Unfriend' someone also only takes a click of the mouse. If they're busy they won't even know you dropped them - they won't get a warning announcement, there will be no bells or whistles, or visible smoke signals outside their window. In my Facebook lifetime of a few years I can only remember choosing to 'unfriend' someone a handful of times. Naturally I felt uneasy about it, a bit guilty, and very judgmental, BUT it was my choice. Of course, I am not naïve enough to think for even a second that someone hasn't 'unfriended' me along the way.
In the grand scheme of life there are those things I can control and then there are the endless things I know I cannot. I can choose, however, how I want to live my life; what influences I want to knowingly subject myself to, what decisions I hope to make, what goals I want to set for myself, and what kind of example I want to be for others. When it becomes clear to me that certain influences are no longer favorable (for my life), whether that be the language people choose to use or the pictures they choose to post to their Facebook pages, then I can choose not to subject myself to it. I do not wish to hear stories of drunkenness,  read colorful language filled with useless 4-letter words, or see photos of new tattoos that are in places that can not be shown at work or in public restaurants, etc.
I will not judge people for their choices because they are different than mine. I am not going to put myself on a pedestal to say that my choice is right and theirs is wrong, BUT I can choose not to subject myself to it. I have enough to deal with on a daily basis living with the consequences of my own decisions.
This past weekend I chose to 'unfriend' 2 people. My choice. One was actually a business page that I felt no longer had anything to offer to me and the second was a young woman I met a year ago. We were never anything more than acquaintances who had a few things in common. Perhaps I felt maternal toward her or it was a woman-to-woman bond, but in the last year I've read about her journey and viewed her photos showing choices she made and I felt ... saddened ... perhaps even disappointed. I do not really know her nor does she know me at all. We've never even had a sit-down one-on-one conversation. I know I would never have any kind of influence on her life, so it was time for me to disengage. Again, my choice. There's something to be said for not standing by and watching an unstoppable train speed down the track knowing that there's nothing you can do to prevent it.

This post isn't meant to judge anyone or change anyone, it's only meant to point out that we do have choices that involve our own lives. It's meant to suggest that we should fill our lives with more positive influences.

Have you ever made the BIG decision to 'unfriend' someone? Was it easy or was it hard?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Be Intentional In Your Actions

If you've been following my blog (or if you haven't I suppose that's o.k.) you should notice that most of my blog posts are generally about the same length. For whatever reason I seem to be consistent with how long it takes me to relate whatever is on my mind. I know ... so much for being direct and to the point right?

Here is something to ponder; at least for me. I've heard it said that actions are worth more than words. It's easy to say you're going to do something, but it's quite another to actually do it. To actually accomplish something takes commitment. We can dream, we can hope, and we can forecast how we think we will do something; BUT until we actually DO it ... it's nothing more than words. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy words (a lot) but I also take great pride when I can follow through on something I've written about or said. 
Like everything in life it's often easier to plan something than actually succeed at it. Our plan needs to be one of action. When we can become intentional in our actions that is when we will see things start to happen; we'll begin to see our hard work come to fruition.
So the next time you hear yourself talking and someone else reminding you that actions speak louder than words; know that they're not trying to criticize ... rather they might actually be trying to motivate and inspire. Sometimes that's what we need; a gentle or non-so-subtle nudge to let us know someone sees what we're striving for.
What have you been intentional about lately?

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Are Your Gifts?

You may be familiar with people talking about their 'God-given' talents and their gifts. Perhaps I hear the phrase a little more often because I work in a church. There are scriptures (like 1 Corinthians 12) that discuss it in great detail; what gifts and talents there were and why they were assigned to different people. In every day terms we could look at those around us and observe that some people have a giving spirit, some have the gift of patience, some sing with a heavenly voice, some have a welcoming personality that puts others at ease, and others have a gift of praying for the sick. The list of possible gifts and talents is surely endless; each one unique to its recipient.

Having a talent or gift, though, can be a journey in itself. First, we must recognize what our gift is. Next, we must learn the best way to use it so that it benefits those around us. And lastly, we must understand the depth of our gift and how special it truly is. Each of us has a gift that is part of us, but we must also understand (and respect) that no two gifts will be the same. Because we see our gift  as something natural (and easy for us) to use, we need to be clear and understand that the same gift may not be as easy for someone else to use. In a group of 20 adults one person may feel very comfortable praying out loud and do it profoundly and with confidence, where the other 19 may pray just as beautifully but prefer to pray privately. The one who prays well in front of others shouldn't think that it is easy and that any one can do it - it is clearly a gift that they possess.
I am the first to admit that I would make a lousy nurse. My heart is compassionate for those in pain or sick, but I don't have the knowledge and would often lack the patience to deal with crisis situations on a daily basis. I have the utmost respect for those who can do that, but at the same time I've had some nurses tell me 'exactly what they think I need to do and that it's easy' ... easy for them, perhaps, but not for me.
With any gift or talent there lies a responsibility that can be as big and as important as the gift itself. Knowing how to utilize your gift with a sense of humbleness and grace and strength and timing is all part of the journey. Like many journeys, they aren't always direct and often come with obstacles - but hang in there. Your 'gift' is worth the effort.
Do you have a special gift that you've been blessed with?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Finding Our Own Direction

A few weeks ago I was invited to write a motivational post for 'Entirely Women' as part of their '52 Real Women' weekly series. I was honored to contribute to this inspirational women's website. For any of you who may have missed the post, here it is.
When we were younger, even as far back as junior high, we were given aptitude and career tests. They’re supposed to help us figure out what we should do as a career and what we will study in college. But let’s be honest, how many of us knew at age 13 what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives? Not too many I’d bet.

Sometimes we have to endure trial and error before we can figure out our paths and direction. Most often it’s all part of an ongoing journey. I am 51 (at least for a few more days) and I’m still redefining what the ‘rest of my life’ will look like.

We all have dreams and aspirations. Sometimes we feel like we’ll never get there and that the dreams are too big for us or just out of our reach. We’ll have supporters in our corner that encourage us to ‘go for it’ and to ‘keep trying’; but often times we’ll also have people telling us that we’re crazy, that we should be happy with what we have and leave it at that.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it when people tell me I can’t do something, especially if it’s something I feel passionate about or something I just don’t feel ready to give up on. If I have the heart and the will to keep trying for something; whether it’s a new job, a relationship, or a better and healthier lifestyle – then I’m going to keep trying. People may think I’m wasting my time, but that’s just it … it’s MY time and MY effort. Why should they care if I fail? Sometimes we have to falter in our initial attempts at greatness before we can truly decipher where we want to go and what we want to do. I think it’s all part of the process. Sure it would be quicker and easier if our lives fell right into place all the time without any complications or mistakes, but it’s those hurdles (and getting over them) that help define our character.

Whatever your dreams or aspirations are, I encourage you to keep going for them. Give them everything you have until you have nothing else to give. Who knows where the journey will take you and what important lessons you’ll have to share with others once you get there.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What Direction Do The Signs Point You In?

Do you believe in signs? I don't mean construction signs or stop signs or 'We're Open' signs. I mean the kind of signs where you meet someone for the first time on a certain date at a certain time. The kind of signs where you tell yourself, 'I'll know I've made the right choice when ________ happens.' The kind of signs that may not mean anything to anyone else, but to you they give you clear direction and a sense of clarity.

There's a movie I find myself watching every time it comes on. It's called 'Fools Rush In' with Matthew Perry and Selma Hayek. It's a romantic comedy where cultures collide and sparks fly. Selma Hayek's character believes in signs, where Matthew Perry's character thinks there is a logical explanation for everything; at least until he meets her.

Do you know your life's path and where the journey will take you? Do you know exactly what you want and how you plan to get there? Have you come across signs along the way that either made you more sure or perhaps made you question some things?

I'd be interested to know if you believed in destiny or chance meetings or if you believed that everything happens for a reason. Many people think they have total control over their lives and all that happens, while others would disagree. What do you think?

When the last time you came across a 'sign' of some sort?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Who's Your Forever Friend?

There are many types of people in this world; many you would either consider to be your friends or perhaps your enemies. Hopefully, though, none of us have too many enemies. So let's begin the week right and focus on friends. 

There are those friends who are more of a mere acquaintance; those you can always count on to give you a smile or to say hello when you bump into them in a store.

There are the lifelong friends; those who you've known since grade school or junior high. You grew up together, ate your school lunches together, attended each other's birthday party sleepovers, and shared secrets with.

There are the wanna-be friends; the ones who conveniently want to be your friend when it suits them or they seem to need something.

There are the 'best' friends; maybe your child or your spouse. You can count on them for support and encouragement, for laughter, to help you dry your tears, and always  ... for their honesty.

There are your seasonal friends; those who go through different seasons in their lives (or perhaps they're your seasons) and your friendship tends to fit in (or not fit in) once the seasons have changed.

Then there are 'forever' friends. I heard someone make a statement about those recently and it made me stop and wonder. Exactly what would be the definition of a forever friend? Someone you've created a special bond with? Someone you feel really comfortable talking to? Someone you think brings out the best in you? Someone whom you have a 2-way relationship with; you're there for them and vice versa? The person who you know you can call anytime about anything and you'll never feel like you inconvenienced them?

How many of us have ever truly had a 'forever' friend? Is it something we strive for? Is it someone who is already in our corner and we haven't quite grasped the depth of the friendship?

Maybe it's a good time to take a friendship inventory of sorts. What kinds of friends do you currently have? What kind of friend are you? Where would you like to see yourself and what do you need to do to get there? Who do you want to be there with you?