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Archive for the ‘lent’ Category

Last night I had a intimate chat with my nephew, he is a 17 year old young man who originates from Cameroon Africa. He has only been in this country for a few years, and I have only known him for 1.5 years or so, well maybe closer to 2 years now, but what ever. In truth he is not my natural nephew, I knew his dad, not very well, through the church I am youth minister at. His son was in the youth group, and to make a long story short, to help him and his boy out, i let his son move in with me, so now he is my nephew. But back to that chat.

Last night at dinner he is usually very quiet, and does not offer up much information, not much more that a grunt or two. But some of that is typical teen age communication but with him it’s also a cultural thing, he was taught to be seen not heard. And that’s what he tries to do, over the last year or so I have worked very hard to get him to open up, to talk to me and other adults more freely. It’s been a hard road, but it has had it’s moments, like last night.

the topic of our conversation is of no real concern for the point of this blog, what is of concern is the importance of intimate conversation. We have gotten away from intimacy in general, our conversations are done via text messaging on our cell phones, one of the latest trends is to text your boy friend or girl friend that you are breaking up. My nephew asked a young lady out via a text message. I was not happy and told him so, to me, asking someone out is an intimate act and should be done face to face, or at least over the phone, voice to voice. The ability to text someone removes the direct contact, removes the personal touch. It makes it easer to have no investment in to the relationship. Sure there are times that texting is called for, or Instant Messaging (IMing) someone one. I IM people all the time, unless it is important, unless it calls for intimacy than it is a face to face contact.

The body often times speaks more that the voice, we can learn more for the language the body is using than the language the voice is using.  With text messages and such, all that is lost, we speak in bits and peaces, using icons to display emotions and words that haven’t even been added to any dictionary as of yet.

When I talk with my nephew I always make sure I can see him and that he is looking at me, often times he looks down or away, and misses the body language of the conversation. I try to explain the importance of looking someone in the eyes when you talk to them, but in this world of texting it seems to make no cense. I am sure he would rather just text me a reply and be done with it.

This all to often is what most teens, and now even adults would rather do. We are loosing the ability to have intimate conversations by allowing our youth to continue hiding behind there phones. As parents and care givers we have a responsibility to teach our children how to be intimate, and we do this by example, but forcing them to look at us when they talk to us, but explaining that texting does not replace face to face or voice to voice, that important things are not reduced to “OMG” (Oh my god) or other such abbreviations, and that a 🙂 does not truly equal a smile.

If we continue down this path we run the risk of living in a world of no intimacy, just a quick text and off we go. So last nights conversation was truly of no great importance except he did communicate with me, he looked at me and he smiles and responded with feeling in his voice. That is much more than a text message ever can be.

ttyl

Paul

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 “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest”
Mark Twain

What a true statement, when we do the right thing people always seem amazed. The other day I was talking to my sister and we were talking about a family that took in my nephew. He had moved out to the DC area and knew no one except my other nephew, and in truth they really didn’t know each other all that well. But as the story goes, he met a young man that lived in the DC area and they became friends, his family took in my nephew and is treating him as their own son. As my sister and I were talking about it, she said that she just couldn’t believe that they would do that, that she was amazed that a family would invite someone they did not know in to their household.

I had to take a moment to remind her that we do the same thing, that currently I have a young man from Cameroon Africa living with me, whom I did not know just a little over a year ago. That she has accepted him as one of the family and we treat him as if he was my child. He is part of our family and has been ever since he moved in over a year ago.

But we did not see what we are doing as anything great because we are doing what we are suppose to do, the right thing. We live our lives according to the standards we were raised and to the faith that we are called to. It is nothing astonishing, nor is it a great thing, it is, just plain and simple, the right thing.

To me it is more astonishing that people don’t do the right thing that they chose to ignore the needs of others so they can fulfill their own needs. Both my sister and I are tight on cash, she is without a job and I am currently going through a bankruptcy, but neither of us would ever consider not taking care of this young man, nor would we turn away others in need. We would open our homes and pray that God will bless us with what we need to survive. And so far He has, whenever we get close to that breaking point, we seem to always find away to make it, something happens and we receive the money we need, or the help we want.

So once again Mark Twain has placed his finger on it, he has captured in a few words the human condition, one that is sad, but true, doing the right thing often times is seem as extraordinary and ordinary. The human condition is in need of repair, start today and do the right thing, and marvel all your family and friends, and don’t boast about it, let the action speak for itself!

Paul

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Accomplishing Your Goals

 

 

Constantly search for new and improved ways of accomplishing your goals. Avoid becoming devoted to a particular practice. Today’s rapidly changing and keenly competitive world requires constant improvement. Routinely reevaluate what you are doing and why and consistently review ways to revamp and reorganize in order to use time and effort with the most effective methods possible. Encourage an attitude of continuous improvement in yourself. Be open to recommendations for improvement. When you are receptive to the ideas of others, they are more open to your suggestions. When individuals as a whole are cooperative, adaptable, and solution-oriented, the potential of all is tapped. Then everyone will enjoy the benefits of a new you.

 

The above is a modified article I read in the LMI (Leadership Management Institute) Journal that I receive in my inbox each week. I receive several different email newsletters to help me grow myself, but also to spur ideas in me. The above article was geared towards management and corporate life, but with a few removed lines, replace a few words here and there, it works for us. There is a good lesson in that.

 

I look for inspiration anywhere I can find it, TV, Movies, Music, Books, People, and even email Newsletters, you never know where inspiration will hit. I read a bible passage and boom, a new blog about self improvement; I watch TV and see a guest on a talk show and bam another topic for discussion.  Don’t be afraid to look in unconventional places to find that motivation for change. As the article above state, change it up sometimes, look for new and improved ways to become a better you.

 

Paul

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“To each their own”, we all have heard this and most likely have said it in the past.  It sounds like sound advice. But is it really good advice? Is what we do only affecting ourselves, or does it affect the world at large? Do we live in a bubble or do we live in a global community?

We hear this argument a lot concerning drug use, the redefinition of marriage and political or religious stances. We tend to compartmentalize our lives, placing aspects of our lives in to nice neat little boxes, and only bringing them out when we feel safe, when we feel that we will not be looked down upon or ostracized for displaying our belief system. We hide our convictions in the name of political correctness and live our lives to a moral code that we do not agree with. We allow the minority to control us, as the majority continues to pack up their platform to hide away in the name of not offending.

We are creating a sterol society that has the convictions of a 3 year old. On that will change its mind at the turn of a head and the change in the voice of the few. Our ability to stand tall has been made in to a crime, for if anyone stands tall and counters the current wisdom is considered a Lune and a nut case, one that should be silenced and put away. If we do not follow the new order of “To each their own” we are considered enemies of the state, all in the name of tolerance.

How they fail to see the contradiction in that is beyond me, but it seems that with this new world order, the ability to check yourself has gone out the window, and is replaced with finger pointing and the  calling out of dissenters from the world order. Free thinking is not allowed, unless it is of the same thinking as our so called liberators. The mantra of to each their own only applies to those that think the same as them, it is not for us, who dissent from their point of view.

If we are truly people who want to change, we need to understand that our actions affect others, that we do not live in this world alone. We have to unpack our core beliefs and live by them, even if it fails to meet the political correctness test that is forced upon us. We need to reestablish the basic premise that we are a global community that must live together and that the care of this community falls upon each of us, and that with freedom comes a great responsibility, that true freedom does not include the doctrine of “To each their own”, that in fact the opposite is true, that with true freedom we become servants of our fellow brothers and sisters.

The complexities of the modern world has created a truly global society and with that is coming a train of thought that states we must lose our identity and meld into the globalness of our current world, forsaking our past and heritage for a new world order. The closer we get to this, the more we will lose our ability to self expression, our ability to grow and to become. The ability to change and to become a new you will be lost forever.

The above is just my outlook on the world today, my hope is that everyone will stop and take a deep look with in and find all the core ideas that you have hidden away for fear of being labeled, unpack them and determine if they are truly uplifting and positive for the human race as a whole, if so display them with pride, if not toss it out. Allow yourself the freedom of self expression and the ability to grow and change in to a positive force for the global community.

Paul

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Yesterday where I live in Michigan, it was a gray and rainy day. A day I call “A cat in the hat” kind of day. You all recall the cartoon, “A cat in a hat” Dr. Seuss’s classic story of two young kids stuck inside on a rainy day. I love that cartoon, it reminds me of my youth, but that’s not the point of this blog. The point is what that means to me now.

“A cat in the hat day” is a day where I want to snuggle up and read a good book or watch an old movie, drinking a cup of hot tea and having a bowl of soup for lunch. It’s a day to just be, not concerning myself with fixing anything, a day without concern. I love days like that, lazy days, days where the mind can take a rest.

I think we all need days like that, days where we can just sit and stair out the window and watch the rain fall, days where the blowing wind will change the fleeting thoughts in your mind and life just drifts by you. Days where nothing seems to happen and nothing really needs to happen, contentment is found in the stillness of the day and the rain falling seems to clear away the stress of life. The clouds covering the sun affect you not and the dampness only seems to call you further in to yourself, Days where the warmth of a cup of soup seems to penetrate you soul.

Times like that, days of nothingness, yet everythingness, seem to renew my soul, and fill with me hope for tomorrow. They allow me to remember the past with fondness and yearning for days gone by.

A Cat in the Hat day is a day of peace and contentment, and days I look forward too. The only regret I have about Cat in the hat days are they do not come often. Sure we get lots of rainy days here in Michigan, so one would think that I have lots of Cat in the hat days, but I do not. A Cat in the hat day has more to with a feeling than the weather. They offer a melancholy feeling that one cannot create with just rain, but rather it takes the soul as well. And thank God, yesterday was just that kind of day for me.

Yes I had to work, and I could not be home reading a good book or watching an old movie with a cup of hot tea and soup for lunch, but it was still a Cat in the hat kind of day for me, I only hope it’s not to long until the next one.

Paul

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As a Catholic I am getting ready to start Lent, a time of reflection and fasting. Lent offers us chance to look back over our life and reflect on what we have done and what we have become. Lent also offers us the opportunity to look forward to reflect on what we want to do and become. Lent is a time of reflection, a time to make new, to be reborn. Lent leads up to Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, It is a time for Catholics to prepare for a new life. As I think about lent, I thought that in truth all of us, Catholic or not, Christian or not, we all can us a little lent in our life. So I thought I would use this blog space to talk about the power of reflection, both back and forward.

Reflection, like seeing an image in a mirror, we have the opportunity to view ourselves as we are, and how we want to be. A little like playing dress up in front of the mirror, like you did when you were a kid, we all did. Put on mom or dads close, look in the mirror and pretend to be the parent, the one in charge. Well reflection can be sort of like that, it allows us to try on new selves, and it allows us to look at past selves.

As I stated above, the Catholic Church sets aside 40 days every year for us to do just that, to reflect. What wisdom the Church had in doing so. And what wisdom we all have gained from it. Weather we do this personal secular lent now or when the Church does it matters little, what matters is that we do it. We set the time aside and we reflect, we take stock in who we where, who we are and who we want to be. We try on new selves, see how they fit, mix and match old with new and reflect on what we see.

This process is used everywhere, from the Church to major corporations to small family run operations. Families do it as well as individuals. This is not a new concept, but one that I feel needs to be restated every now and then. If you are a reader of my blogs you will know that I often return to the idea of reflection. I often call it by different names, but the idea is the same. Take time to look at yourself, take time to learn from your past to create your future. If you are a Christian, use the time of Lent to reflect not only on God, but also on yourself, your relationship with others and God. If you are a non-Christian, set aside some time to reflect, follow the Christian calendar and start on February 25 and continue until Easter Sunday, or set your own dates. But do it, allow yourself the opportunity to reflect, to look back and forward.

Journal about it, keep a record, start a blog, track you progress. It is important that we know we are moving, that our efforts are not stagnate. Lent, a time to prepare for a rebirth, yours and Christ, and a time to reflect on what was and what will be.

Paul

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