Day 258: A walk down history lane

We watched Selma tonight. Wow! What a powerful film. The story took place in the year I was born, so I didn’t know a lot of the history involved. Of course, I had studied some of the big events of civil rights in school, but watching this film tonight, I felt I was immersed in Selma, Alabama…in the hatred, in the evil of men’s hearts, and in the patience of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I won’t give the movie away, if you haven’t seen it (it’s historical…can I really give it away?), but I would like to chat about a few things I saw in relationship to kindreds as well as perseverance in the midst of discouragement.

One of the things that impressed me was the portrayal of Dr. King. It’s tough to feel like you have a vision for something, and yet all you get is problems and even hatred. Yet Dr. King kept going, even when he wanted to quit. Even though he knew he might face opposition or even death. To have that single-minded vision and commitment to that vision is worthy of emulating. Even if your vision is not as noble as Dr. King’s, if you were given a vision, then you should go after it with all you have, even when you face obstacles.

The other thing that I kept noticing was the people who surrounded Dr. King. He had an advisory board within his kindred circle. His kindreds had his back, yet pushed him when he needed it. They weren’t afraid to voice their opinions. They weren’t afraid to go up against the “fame” that followed Dr. King, and they helped to keep him grounded. We need kindreds like that: people who speak the truth in love; people who will support, yet tell you if they think you’re crazy. Pushing us to greater things, yet keeping us from going off the path.

I read a sign on someone’s office wall today that said: “Stay away from negative people. They always have a problem for every solution.” It made me smile, but it also made me think about how if we don’t have that positive influence around us, we can easily get dragged down into the negative. Dr. King’s kindreds were a positive solution in the midst of his negativity.

I thought it was a great movie, and I’ll give it two thumbs up!

DAY 258 HOMEWORK: Do you have a single-mindedness for your visions? If not, what can you to be more focused? And what kind of people are you surrounding yourself with? Aim for an advisory board of kindreds that is full of positivity and solutions, who will have your back and speak the truth to you when you need it.

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Day 257: On the edge

My son has a fascination with knives, and he has quite a little collection, from samurai swords to fancy box cutters. He takes pretty decent care of them, and sometimes he spends time sharpening his knives so they split a piece of paper with just a little flip. It’s impressive to watch.

I don’t know who said it originally, but my friend told me about a quote this morning: “If you sharpen your blade too much, you lose your edge.” It stayed on my mind all day because it was thought-provoking. My friend and I were talking about it in terms of workload; sometimes the workload gets crazy with many projects in the air at the same time, and it may take one project more to send the whole juggling act to the ground. We were saying that when we get in that overload mode, that we don’t get downtime, and downtime is when we’re most creative. We all need that time to breathe. That helps us keep our edge.

The quote could also apply to working so long on getting ready for something that we never actually get to the goal. We work to make something look nice, and then we work on it some more, and then a bit more, and we never get around to actually doing it. At some point, we have to lose that perfectionistic tendency and go with what we have. Sometimes a dull knife is preferable to not being able to cut at all.

Then I thought about how we often get distracted by our many “improvement projects,” always to make ourselves more knowledgeable, or more attractive, or more marketable. Improving ourselves is good, but what about spending time on the things we’re really good at and passionate about? Don’t get me wrong. I love growing with new tasks and learning new things, but instead of being pulled in many directions, what if I really spend improvement time on my passions? You’ve probably heard the saying: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” My edge can never be truly sharp if I don’t hone my skill.

DAY 257 HOMEWORK: Maybe this quote has given you something to think about. What are you over-sharpening? Where do you need to gain your edge again? Maybe it gave you a totally different insight. If so, share your ideas with someone today.

 

 

Day 256: Time suckers

I love music and always have, but I’m not one to have it on 24/7. If I’m at home alone, I enjoy the silence, so I often won’t turn on the TV or any music. I rarely use headphones. In fact, just about the only time I listen to music is in the car on my way to and from work. Of course, living in the Nashville Metropolitan area, that commute can sometimes be a long one, so I can get an hour or two of music-listening in every day.

Today, I was listening to the radio, and the hosts were talking about social media, and how sometimes we need to take a break from it for a while. My ears perked up, because that was how I started out this blog on Day 1. The girl host was saying that she’s taking a break because when she gets on social media, she just compares herself to others, and it makes her feel bad. The guy host was saying, that while he didn’t compare himself with others, he could get sucked in pretty quickly, even with a short check of his account…20 minutes later, he checks the time and wonders where it went.

I think that’s what bothers me the most about social media. Five minutes can turn into 40 and it can turn into a couple of hours if we’re not diligent. One day, I found myself looking at the same posts over and over again, and realized that I was using social media as an excuse to hide from life. So I started looking at my “friend” list and unfollowed a bunch of them…the ones who never contacted me, didn’t respond to my posts, shared junk non-stop, and just filled up my page with a lot of clutter. Like my closets need decluttering, my wall definitely needed help.

Unfollowing isn’t the same as unfriending. It just means someone’s stuff doesn’t show up first in your feed. I can still contact them as I think of them or if I need to send them a birthday wish, or whatever. It doesn’t mean I don’t like them. By no means! It just focused my feed to edifying posts and pics of my nieces and nephews and kids of dear friends. I can get through my newsfeed in a few minutes a day, and so what if I don’t see the latest news? I’m much better off for simplifying.

I don’t think I’ve watched TV in the last 8 weeks either, and I’ve gained so much time in the evenings to work out and chat with family. I’m not surrounded by the negativity of the news, and though I may not quite get Brexit, I am developing stronger bonds with those around me. And that’s where it counts!

DAY 256 HOMEWORK: How about decluttering your newsfeed? Look at your list of “friends” and pay attention to those you know but who don’t really dialog with you. It’s OK to unfollow them so they move down the list of priorities in your newsfeed. If you click the little down-arrow to the right of someone’s name, you can click the “unfollow” button to start paring down your list. It’ll work wonders for your time schedule, and get you off the wall in much quicker fashion, if you just give it a little effort.

 

Day 255: Half begun

It’s been quite a few days since we’ve been able to go work out, and I was feeling especially ready to go to the gym when I got home from work tonight. I’m definitely not the athletic type, but I’ve enjoyed the process of working out, and the stress seems to melt away by the time I’m done.

What are they called? Endorphins? I think that’s the feel-good chemical that comes following a work out. Whatever that chemical is, I may be starting an addiction to it.There don’t seem to be any excuses for the first time, and looking forward to exercise (which used to be an oxymoron for me) is becoming more common. What? Am I sure I’m talking about me?

I’m not even working out that much. I do a few minutes of stretching. Then I work on my abs at a couple of stations. I move next to the recumbent bicycle (for 18 minutes tonight!) I wrap up with lifting some little weights to tone up my flabby waving muscle (the one that jiggles when you wave). I don’t know enough about exercise to do different things…I just tried out a lot of different stations during my first week, and those 4 things were the things I liked the best.

I’m usually done working out before my daughter-in-love is. She has good endurance on the treadmill, elliptical, and bicycle, and she spends much more time at doing those cardio-type things than I do at my whole routine. So I go get a hydromassage or a chair massage while she finishes up her routine.

Tonight, following the massage, I went back on the floor, and we were just standing around talking about whether we were done or not. Since we hadn’t decided, I hopped on a new machine and gave it a spin. It felt a little like cross-country skiing, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing it right, but after 5 minutes of that, my backside was really feeling it.

I’m not sure I’ll walk tomorrow, but I left the gym feeling super light. Who knew that I would like something athletic?? We came home and made up a yummy salad. It was the perfect ending to the evening!

DAY 255 HOMEWORK: Maybe the moral to this story is just start something. I’ve thought about joining a gym for a long time, but didn’t think I’d like it, so I never did it. What else have I thought about, but not done? Join me in the challenge to just start. I was thinking about quoting Well begun is half done, but it came out Half begun is nearly done. I think I like my version better. Even “sort of starting” can take you to a new level. You may be surprised by where you end up.

Day 254: No bounds

I read a quote this morning that was really quite inspiring. It’s contributed to that well-known author and great thinker: Unknown. He (or she) said:

A blind man’s world is bound by the limits of his touch; An ignorant man’s world by the limits of his knowledge; A great man’s worlds by the limits of his vision.

I really like that.

Many times we are bound by our sight, or what we know; what we perceive; or what we sense, but we do need to have a vision, or a direction to follow. The author who used this anonymous quote was using it as a foundation for his ideas that you have to write down your vision so that you have something real to work towards. I agree with that theory.

I’ve had several visions swimming around in my head and so I took the time to get them out on paper this morning. It’s really funny, but when you can put those things in writing, they suddenly take on a life. They feel real, like you need to do something about them.

So this afternoon, I tested my vision on a few people and got some feedback. Each person gave me some ideas and I added them to my list.

The next step is to literally step…I’ve got to step out in faith and act on this vision, or else it will simply sit there in my notebook.

DAY 254 HOMEWORK: Do you have a vision swimming in your head? Something you’ve been daydreaming about? Get out a journal and start brainstorming. Try to capture all the ideas that have been coming to you…you know, in those moments when you’re brushing your teeth, or washing your hair? Write them down. And then try your ideas out on someone to see what ideas they can add to your vision.

Day 253: The simpler way

Today, we explored a farm close by our home. Well, not really the farm, but the wares of the farm. They sold honey, eggs, peaches, and a pole barn full of other goodies that all came from their farm. It was the peaches we were after. There’s someone named Peach in our town who’s running for election of some sort, and there are signs with a peach on them on practically every corner. It’s enough to make your mouth water!

It must have been 100 degrees in that pole barn, and the couple was as jovial as if they were sitting in an icebox. They were cracking jokes, and giving us samples, and telling us interesting tidbits about the things they had in their “store.”  After we picked up a few things, and got in the car to leave, I thought about how much I love to shop local.

Sure. It’s a bit more expensive. Farmers don’t have the manpower and have much more overhead per sale than the mass-producers and the logistics people. Local farmers have many fewer sales and it’s how they live day-to-day. But what local does have on its side is freshness, and all-natural growth. You know where it comes from and how it’s produced. And you’re putting money back into your local economy. And you’re talking with the ones who are harvesting. Their food comes out of their fields and onto your tables. And one last thing I just thought about, you get some kinds of variety that you’ll never find in a grocery store. My sister bought some blackberry cider today, and it was delicious!

Buying local is all about community, and I love that. Sure, there are conveniences for buying online, or at big chains, but you don’t really know if the person who actually made the thing you’re buying was paid a fair salary, if they were mistreated, or if the product itself is totally safe.

Those are some of the reasons I’m working to get back to a simpler way of life. I’ll not forsake convenience, for sure, but when I can, I’ll get out and find those little places nearby that are 100% local, and I’ll support them, and the people who run them.

DAY 253 HOMEWORK: Get off the beaten path and find some local vendors. Support them as you can.

Day 252: Indy’s popping up all over

My sister and I had a date tonight. And it was mostly free (besides parking, and our supper,  and the parking ticket I got). But the event was cool. The Nashville symphony played the score as we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark at the Schermerhorn downtown.

The guy on my team won the tickets at work, and he had a conflict, so he gave the tickets to me. Free is good! But I really didn’t know what to expect, and I really wasn’t expecting to watch the whole movie. I thought maybe they would be showing clips as they played.

As we got to the symphony center, we found a parking spot and hurried inside. It started at 7 and we were there just a few minutes before. We found our seats, and just behind us was a librarian who had worked at my sister’s school a few years ago and her date. We talked with them for a few minutes. They had been to several of these movie events at the symphony, and they told us how much they enjoyed coming to them. To their left sat Indiana Jones and Indiana Jones; anyway, two characters dressed up like Indiana Jones at various stages of his “life.” Pretty good likenesses. Behind the first Indiana Jones was a consultant we had worked with several times for executive training. I really like this woman; she’s so cordial and full of life! And behind the librarian’s date was another guy from my work. I’m guessing he won tickets too. It felt like a nice community in our section as we greeted each other in those few moments before the movie started.

When the lights went down, the familiar John Williams music began to play. I had forgotten a lot of the movie, so the live music really got me caught up in the plot. The cellos and basses shook my soul in the various chase scenes, and the violins squealed out in high tension moments. Sometimes we forgot that we were even at the symphony; the sound was better than Dolby at the cinema, and it made us feel like we were part of the movie, standing right there as Indiana Jones fake-punched his way through a bunch of bad guys.

Following the movie, we scooted out as fast as we could. I had paid for 2 hours of parking and had asked the system to text me when time ran out so I could extend my parking time. I didn’t get the text, until 30 minutes after the ticket had expired! Tomorrow, I’ll contest that ticket, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin our fun evening.

The sister date was lovely, and I’m glad we had experienced the symphony movie night together for our first time. I’ll go back again someday, because it was enjoyable and enlightening.

DAY 252 HOMEWORK: I’m not sure if they have symphony movie night where you live, but if you ever get the chance to go to one, it’s worthwhile. But my homework for tonight is simply to greet those around you where ever you are, and start up little conversations. Those moments of connection are important for you, and for the person you’ve encountered.