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Archive for the category “faith”

Get busy living, or get busy dying


Get busy living, or get busy dying 

Photo credit: Ralf Weiser, Resistance to change. Do not get stuck on the left side of the “U” – for long

Life is too short for long pity parties. This week made me think of my best college friend who passed away too early due to cancer. She was such a fighter. When your life suddenly changes because you have just found out you have a challenging medical condition you can either keep feeling sorry for yourself, or you can already see the new path and plan that goes along with it. Some folks just get stuck in the anger, grieving, and resistance mode: “Why did this happen to me?”, “I just do not believe this!” It can lead to a state of utter confusion and self-pity. And it is a pity when you do not get out of that mode.

Feeling sorry for yourself however wastes time and lets your brain go on a down spiraling path to severe depression. Neither is helpful if time is of the essence. I will never forget the incident where my mom was sharing a hospital room with a woman who was exactly in this state of mind. Her illness was severe and her outlook on how long she was to live did not look great at all. When nurses and doctors asked her what she wanted to do she constantly changed direction. When she was alone with my mom or visitors she was constantly complaining about the medical staff, her condition – nothing seemed to work out right for her. It was painful to watch, especially when she snuck out the room to go downstairs for a quick smoke in order to “calm her nerves down”. Calm your nerves down, but stress your body even more with the effects of smoking? The woman went in a circle of self-destruction – she got really busy dying.

Compare this with my mom who had been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer 9 months prior. At the beginning of her journey of the long goodbye that is cancer, she had been given a few weeks to live. Not our mom, nope, she would have none of it. Hope and faith let her go through the anger, grief, and resistance time period really quickly. Plans were made to see specialists, treatments, and she even got new glasses to be able to see and read better. She had not gotten new ones in decades.

In the end cancer finally claimed her life 10 months after diagnosis. At the time the above mentioned story happened things were already not looking good at all, but my mom found the time helping the woman with advice, thoughts and prayers. The irony puzzles me to this day. Bottom line though was that mom was always busy living.

When things look bleak it may be easier succumbing to self-pity. Two processes are at work here. One is how a sudden major change goes through a U shaped process (explained here in more detail) and what you are going through is normal: Resistance, anger, grief, etc. That is the downward side of the U on the left. There comes a time when you hit the bottom of the U (figuratively speaking). You can either swing back up to anger etc, or start looking at the upside to the right leg of the U. It is the onset of careful optimism, hope, and exploration of opportunities. The other main process is that you have a choice. Are you choosing to get busy dying, or are you choosing to get busy living? What will be your choice?

Ralf

Great relationships with your kids do take a bit of time and work


Great relationships with your kids do take a bit of time and work 

Just this last week I went to a public event at school and my daughter gave me a big hug. One of the school’s administrators saw this and commented that he would give money for his daughter to do this with him in high school and that this may not happen. Public display of affection is just not all that cool when you are in school – definitely not for high school folks.

I commend my daughter for not caring enough about her peer’s opinions. Yet great relationships with your kids do not come easy and they are not the norm (perhaps they have never been the norm?). Once the teenage years come around hormones set in, parents are no longer cool. It will not take much longer and they are out of the house and they want to spend less and less time with you.

Some of this is totally natural. You need to provide the solid roots for them to have a good footing in life. On the other hand, you also should want to let them grow wings such that they can fly away eventually. Finding yourself in today’s world is tough and I am glad that I do not have to do that again.

You hope that you have a solid relationship with them that they feel they can come back anytime – eventually. They should of course not feel like that they are being shamed into seeing you regularly. Wouldn’t it feel great if they felt compelled to ask you for advice later in life?

You put the odds in your favor by always maintaining a great relationship. There are some really quick and simple ways how to initiate for this to happen.

  1. Start early. Children are like batteries – you charge them up early in life and they will not run out of power for quite some time. Make sure to teach them great habits from the day they are born. Some say it starts as early as when babies are still in the womb. I have seen this so many times that parents imposing rules when children are 3 to 4 years old. Guess what: the train has left the station.

 

  1. See the world through their eyes. Literally and figuratively get down to their level. See the world through their eyes.

 

  1. Spend time not money: The best and most expensive baubles, trinkets, clothes, shows, etc never make for long term sustainable relationships. They get to know whom they can pump for the money and what they need to do or say in order to get it. All it takes is to ask them what they want to do. Be amazed how little it takes for them to be totally happy spending time with you.

 

  1. Instill intrinsic motivation. Punishment and rewards for tasks performed do not work well when they leave the house. I call it the sugar and whip routine. Intrinsic motivation comes from within your child; it cannot be forced from the external world. Your short ones look for your approval, and genuine appreciation. Share with them – often – why you are happy about what they do and who they are.

 

  1. Let them fail. Hover over them all you want, ultimately you will not be around forever. Let them fail, otherwise they will not know what to do when you are not around to save them. Easier said then done, I know. It is heartbreaking to watch too. It is the circle of life. Suck it up, or get used to the idea of the mental picture of you becoming the crutches that hold up your kids.

 

  1. Do not be too critical. Yell often and you will no longer be afforded the truth. Period. If you are berating them for every little bit, then what is the point for telling the truth anyway? They would get yelled at either way. Telling you a half-truth is their way to get yelled at less. Pick your battles wisely.

 

  1. Provide responsibility with With any responsibility there is always also authority. Be prepared to get inundated with the question “what do you want me to do now?, if you only provide rules, but no wiggle room for how your little critters will make it happen.

 

  1. Foster spirituality. Be a role model here. In the evening say a prayer with them appreciating the great things that happened. Reflect on the lessons learned. Pray for people in need. In the event you can coax them out of bed early enough, say a prayer with them in the morning. Appreciate what you have and be thankful for it. When they are ready, ask what God means to them (prepare for shedding tears of laughter and deep emotions).

Life is tricky a friend recently shared with me. She is definitely correct about the relationship part with your kids. Good news is that you have it in your hand as to what kind of a relationship you will have. Choose wisely.

Ralf

Facing your greatest fear


Facing your greatest fear 

I used to not think twice about how I should confront my top fears. I though I had no choice. Fear was fear and I did not get close to them at all. Avoidance was my mode of operation – if you cannot change anything anyway, just avoid getting close. That is why it had not occurred to me that my primary top number one fear was my own shadow. I was afraid how powerful I could be and I did not let my own light shine sort of speak. I owe a lot of building up my strength to Marianne Williamson’s “Our Greatest Fear”. See what you think.

Ralf

 

Our Greatest Fear — Marianne Williamson

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Do you ever wonder if you do enough volunteering?


Do you ever wonder if you do enough volunteering? 

Photo credit: Ralf Weiser

Volunteering at its best makes everyone better off – especially if you do not expect anything back in return. It makes a positive difference for others, it makes you feel great, and it helps build a better and greater sense of community. Here are a few tell tale signs that could help you decide if you may be not spending enough time on it.

  • You find yourself spending time only on yourself and maybe only on and with your significant other.
  • Your house looks spic and span clean inside out and there is not one bit of clutter anywhere.
  • You find yourself at the bar or club almost every opportunity that presents itself.
  • Your friends and acquaintances have not changes in years.
  • Your social media posts mainly focus on minute-by-minute details of what happened to you during the day.
  • You look at your bank and credit card accounts and you notice that you only spent money on yourself.
  • At the end of the day you look back and you cannot recall having done one selfless thing for another human being.

Especially this Easter holiday is a vivid and humble reminder thinking of Jesus who above all gave everything for us. Please spend a little love, time, and money on your fellow man and woman – it does not take much making a huge difference in other people’s lives.

Ralf

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