Monday, August 13, 2012

New Year's Resolutions...Part Four

In case you missed my last couple of blog posts please read here, here and here. If you are indeed a sucker for punishment, let's move on to the next item.

Be Courageous
I’m sharing a photo that was taken when I was about five years old. I’m smiling a big one in the photo, but it’s important to note that truly, it’s one of those holy-fuck-am-I-glad-to-still-be-alive smiles. You see, my parents wanted a picture of me with that stuffed bear and I was all but willing to oblige. That is, until one of my brothers whispered in my ear that the bear was just faking being dead; it was alive, and it would chew my head off once I got close enough. Friends, I was terrified. I screamed. I yelled. I bawled my face off. But in the end, my parents would not let me leave until I hugged that damn bear. They knew it was an important lesson in  not listening to assholes facing my fears, and they insisted I overcome it.

Here's what I know about courage.
It's one of the hardest things to possess.
Because sometimes?
Sometimes things scare the crap out of you.
But that's when you need to go ahead and do it anyway.
Ask yourself if you're living your life like the person you want to be.
Ask that little kid from a long time ago if you've become someone to be proud of.
Someone who sticks up for others...sticks up for themselves.

Courageously speak your mind and follow through on your promises.
Courageously stick up for yourself – after you do it once, it becomes much easier.
Know yourself, know what’s important to you and set your boundaries accordingly.
You, and you alone, teach people how to treat you.
A wise friend once told me that every yes is a no.
Remember that.
If you say yes to one more commitment,
then in all likelihood you’ve just said no to spending more time with your family.
(I won’t even comment on the Catholic guilt that comes with saying no to someone.
That's a PhD thesis that I'm likely never going to write.
It would make me feel, oh I don't know...guilty.)

Time is finite.
You can't buy anymore of it.
But you can decide who, or what, gets yours.
Have the courage to be the architect of your own life.
No one else will build it for you.
By virtue that no one can do it for you, conversely, no one can take it away.

p.s. On the topic of courage, I thought you'd appreciate the following video clip. Upon learning that Cisco the sheep was a boy, Jack threw both arms in the air shouting: "Yes! Boys, boys!". Cisco did not take pleasure in Jack's joy over his boy-hood. Rather, he took the gesture as a personal affront and knocked Jack on his ass. He then proceeded to chase him. As per my Mother Earth persona, I can be heard chortling (and gasping with fear) in the background. Upon viewing the clip later, my sister declared me a big wiener for not rushing in to save Jack. I told her it's not like I thought the damn thing was going to chase him, and also, I knew the rope would run out. Eventually. Translation: I was scared shitless of that cloven beast. Minutes later, Jack informed me that he still liked Cisco. That there friends, is courage. The ability to reflect on a situation that didn't go so well for you, and still find the good...

p.p.s. I have no idea why this video is shaking around like an Etch-a-Sketch on acid. I have my strengths. Fixing this isn't one of them. I apologize for the induced motion sickness.

To be continued...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions...Part Three

In case you missed my last couple of blog posts (cue gasps of incredulous disbelief from me this suck...kidding, my family doesn't even read my blog), please read here and here. For those of you brave souls following along, let's move on to the next two items.

Be humble
Never confuse being humble with thinking less of yourself, rather, think of yourself less often. It's not all about you - and that's a tough message for any of us. It’s about our impact on those around us, helping others when they’re down, comforting those with a heavy heart and being part of something bigger than ourselves. Most importantly, it’s about leaving the world a little better than how we found it. And, it’s about focusing less on what we want, and being happy with what we have. Oh, that's a tough one, isn't it? Next time you're about to make a purchase, ask yourself this: is that a need or a want? A need or a want? And I'm not saying never buy anything you want, but I think the exercise itself will surprise you - and perhaps make you think twice about acquiring debt you can't afford, or attempting to fill a part of yourself that feels empty with something that won't make you feel full.

Do yourself a favour and spend some time with a baby. Babies are completely happy with what they have; when they cry, it's usually because they need something. Food, warmth, love. But then again, I'm of the opinion they’re the closest thing to heaven we’re permitted to hold. Society hasn’t got hold of them yet, and hurt them with countless criticisms and judgment. Society hasn't made them feel inadequate - simply put, they don't they give a shit if they're wearing cool clothes or being pushed in the ugliest f*cking stroller you've ever seen. They understand the difference between a want and a need. Us adults? Lord have mercy. We always seem to be reaching for something that’s beyond our grasp. What is that yearning, exactly? Maybe, just maybe, it's the proof that there is something bigger than us out there, something better, the place our soul remembers as home.

Our life is a gift. We need to feel blessed for what we've been given, for indeed we are blessed beyond measure. Life's a board game. Play a good game. Leave the board in good shape. Don't chew on the corners. And one day? One day you'll have to pass on your chips. Don't be sad about that. Holding on tighter won't help you at all. Your time at the board isn't up to you. Your moves while you're here, are.

Be kind and compassionate
The following was written by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Now here’s a guy who had a dream to be the biggest online bookseller in the world – when he first started, people laughed at him, and told him it was an impossibly stupid idea. How'd you like him now?

Allow me to paraphrase one of his quotes:

"Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice.
Gifts are easy - they're given to you, after all.
But choices, they can be hard.
You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful,
and if you do, it'll probably be to the detriment of your choices...
Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life begins.
How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you're wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
Will you play it safe? When it's tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?"

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

Being kind and compassionate is a choice. It's a choice you have to make every day, in each and every interaction, with each and every person, even to those who may have hurt you in the past. Free yourself from hate and anger. And for heaven's sake, don't hold grudges. It's human nature though, isn't it? It’s much easier to be angry and harbour resentment than to be vulnerable and tell someone that they’ve hurt you. Heaven forbid we appear human. Oh. The horror.

Let yourself be sad, speak your truth, then get over it. When you hold onto the pain that someone has caused you, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. If someone has hurt you, whether recently or from years ago, then forgive them. The literal translation of the word forgive means to let go. Think about it – if someone has hurt you, why on earth would you think it’s a good idea to carry that burden with you for the rest of your life? It’s their shit to carry, not yours. Let. It. Go.

I’ll wager a guess we’ve all had crap to deal with, but with that we have a choice. You can let that crap, let’s call it manure, sit on the surface, smelling badly, wafting nasty odors, giving you a foul disposition in general, and tainting everything and everyone you come into contact with. Or conversely, you can use that same manure to act as fertilizer. Let it seep to your roots, become part of who you are...learn from it, grow from it and bloom...not in spite of it, but because of it.

Again, kindness and compassion are a choice. Live your life how you want people to remember you – it’s your only legacy.

To be continued… as one reader kindly pointed out, my to-be-continued segments remind him of TV programs from the 80s, when you'd be in a blind panic to get home on time to watch Part 2 of some mini-series you had started watching. Once home, you then had to remember which of the three channels it was on so you could adjust the antenna accordingly. All this and hold your pee until the commericals. If you're under the age of 25 and reading this, move on. You'll likely just think I'm making this shit up.

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