Category Archives: Taking personal responsibility

The world has enough people who are trying to police everyone else, what they do, what they say, what they think. We’d be better off if we took a portion of that energy and turned it back on ourselves. It matters what each of us do, say, and even think. We have the responsibility to make sure it reflects what we really believe.

Is age a requirement of gaining wisdom?

Living in my own version of reality, I often forget that I am actually 47 years old. I instinctively think that most people I meet are older and wiser than I am. They certainly know more.

Yet a few minutes spent with our kids and me making comments like “I can’t believe that commercial just said that. When we were kids that would have been outrageous!”, it is obvious that I am not the young, spring chicken I pretend to see when I look in the mirror.

I’m not sure when I got old, or older as the case may be. It just seems to have happened while I wasn’t looking. Regardless, phrases that used to make me roll my eyes when I heard my parents utter them now come quite readily out of my mouth.

What’s more, they reflect what I actually feel.

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There is something about being young and in college and so sure that we know more than the older generation. Our solutions will work; just wait until we are in charge. We are going to change the world. Life will be ultimately fair to everyone and all people will be kind to each other. We’ll show these old duffers how it should be done. They are so closed minded that they just can’t see it.

I remember feeling invincible and smart and insightful and, most importantly, passionately right in my opinions. Continue reading Is age a requirement of gaining wisdom?

What’s the line between personal expression and being respectful?

When I was in high school and college, I was certainly one who had an eye out for fashion. I’m not sure how often I hit the mark, but I thought I was pretty styling (perhaps even the use of that phrase shows just how far off I was!).

For my senior year of high school, I had wanted a pair of pointed-toe, flat-heeled, black leather boots to wear with jeans.

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I had seen the whole look in a poster and couldn’t forget how cool I thought the guy looked. His haircut, his shirt, everything said what I wanted to say about myself. Even the incredibly daring small gold hoop earring that he wore in his left ear.

My best friend Bryan and I went on a quest to Salt Lake to shop for clothes. My favorite shoe shop in the mall was The Wild Pair. I’m pretty sure the name says it all; at any rate, the sign above the door was very appropriate.

I found them.

We’ve all had a favorite pair of shoes at one time or another. These were mine. Continue reading What’s the line between personal expression and being respectful?

Do we want the consequences of what we want?

It seems that we’ve morphed into a society that makes quick, knee-jerk reactions to situations. Probably a direct result of the instant technology supply and demand.

The cloud and airwaves and twittersphere are loaded with immediate reactions to whatever is going on. Kind of like when we used to see those tests given to people where they are told to just say the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear a word or see a picture.

Trouble is, I’m not sure my first reaction is my true reaction. My mind works a little more methodically and it takes me a few tries to get around the whole picture. Try to interpret the ramifications of different directions. Understand what B may follow A.

But once our initial, quick, knee-jerk reaction is out there, it’s out there – forever.

And no one will ever let you forget it. Or retract it. Or change it.

Even on those rare instances when someone simply comes forward and says “Man, that was a stupid thing to say, I’m not sure where it came from, but as I’ve had time to think about it, that is not what I feel or believe at all”, we attack and attack and attack (if it is a slow news cycle) and charge forward demanding changes. Punishments. Consequences.

We have become pretty good at choosing and forcing the consequences for other’s actions.

We have also become pretty good at wanting to choose the consequences for our own actions.

With all of our time-saving devices and a standard of living unimagined for the majority of the history of the world (I recently heard that if you have a garage, you are in the upper 2% on the planet – not to mention the cars that fill those garages and overflow to the driveway), we live as if we have no time at all.

We are running faster and faster and faster.

Work just a little longer today than yesterday. Give up your weekend to get the project done. Miss your children’s recital to make the deadline.

There is just not enough time.

Not enough time to get things done.

Not enough time to get enough rest.

Not enough time to take care of ourselves.

Not enough time to think.

Not enough time to think?

Wow. Now that’s a problem.

What happens when we take time to think?

We may actually see out farther than the next 20 seconds that it took to type 140 characters and hit send.
We may actually stop and ask “Do I really think that?”

Here’s a good one: We may actually stop and see how our action may impact others.

Over the course of a lifetime, people generally reap what they sow. What they put out there for the most part comes back to them. Call it scripture, call it Karma. But people who are kind generally are surrounded by kindness. People who are nasty to be around, in the end, find themselves alone with all the other nasty people.

Do we want the consequences of what we want?

The truth is that we cannot choose our consequences. We can choose our choices, our actions, our words.
But we can’t choose the consequences that follow.

No matter how badly we may want to.

Choosing to engage in sexual intimacy on a date certainly has the possible consequence of a pregnancy.

Choosing to practice dishonesty at work runs the chance of being caught and fired, and in some cases criminal proceedings.

Choosing to spew hate-filled, angry words at nameless, faceless groups of people will change not only the recipient but also the deliverer.

Damage done is damage done.

We can’t go back and wave our magic wand and change things after the fact. No matter how badly we want to.

After the fact, the time for choosing is over. It is time for facing, accepting, and working through what we have chosen.

Because the time to choose was before we turned the lights off, not after we turned them back on.

So, maybe we slow down just a little. We get a little more rest so our thought processes are clear. We take an extra 10 minutes in the morning to just be quiet, and breathe, and think.

I know when I invite Someone else into my thought process that things are clearer. I see more potential consequences before they happen. I have time to try to find a better way.

A way that will have the consequences that I really do want.

Gratefully, the day usually goes differently than it might have gone. I am constantly amazed that I don’t get what I deserve, but that things always turn out better than they would have, had I done things my initial, knee-jerk responding way.

Thank heaven for that moment to stop and think – and see.

I really do want the consequences of the things I want.

Compromise: When did it become a dirty word?

I’ve been watching closely the happenings in our nation’s capital over the past few years. I’m struck with the reporting of how people on each side have decided that compromise is a dirty word. The only acceptable solution is the solution that their party has; anything less would be a catastrophe.

The extremes in each party feel that to give in and try to meet in the middle on issues is like putting manure in your mouth, chewing and swallowing.

But they seem to relish the idea of having the other side going through the experience.

The liberals seem to think that the right-wing conservatives are bible-thumping, religious fanatics that make self-righteous judgments on everything. The far right looks at the far left as nothing less than lunatic, free-loving hippies who just want money to fall from the skies to pay for anything we may need.

I would bet that if someone searched, they could find members of both groups who actually fit these descriptions, validating the other side to be right in their characterizations.

That may only just prove that it isn’t hard to find idiots in all walks of life.

But here we are in the United States of America. The home of the brave and the land of the free. Bring us your tired, your poor…

You know how it goes. Everyone is welcome. We love diversity.

But if you are on the left, just don’t bring us your right-wing conservatives.

If you are on the right, just don’t bring us your left-wing liberals.

There isn’t room here for them.

We can’t seem to wrap our heads around the fact that this country belongs just as much to one side of the aisle as it does to the other. No one is going to ever be able to have every law and every court decision support their ideologies. It is physically and literally impossible.

So is the solution to stop working with each other?

According to many news stories, that was exactly the solution put forward by an extreme. Don’t compromise. Block anything “they” bring up and put forward. We must hold out for it to be “our” way, because “our” way is the “right” way.

Sounds a little like the Israelis and the Palestinians. With the world looking on, the question is asked over and over “Why can’t they just learn to live together in peace?”

Time to look in the mirror. Are we heading for a similar fate? Are we getting so angry that we forget the virtues of love, compassion, and compromise?

Compromise is not a dirty word. When it comes to making laws and finding solutions, we live in a democracy where it is a consensus of the masses and we find the middle ground. Each extreme will NEVER get what they really want by that definition. It would seem ridiculous for laws to be enacted that are only supported by 20% of the population.

Right?

The more we can get to know each other and learn to work together, identifying what the real problem is, and for heaven’s sake leaving the need to gain power through the process out, but simply trying to find the “best” solution, the more we will move forward and get out of this stall we seem to be in.

And there are people out there, on both sides, who are doing just that. They are bravely meeting and talking and working with others at the risk and threat of the extremes to primary them out of a job or ostracize them from any future committees.

Here is the oxymoron: These are people who aren’t willing to compromise in the areas that it matters. They are not willing to compromise their character and commitment to serve the American people.

Because they are not willing to compromise on who they are, deep inside, as an individual, they have the freedom to find compromises that bring the best solutions for the public at large.

I’ve been watching. They are there.

At first, I thought I’d name some of these hard working, uncompromising people making compromises. I have found them in both parties.

But then I thought, no, I won’t name them.

Why don’t you look for them yourself and find people who fit that description?

Chances are our lists won’t match each other’s. You will find the good in people that I may miss.

Because isn’t that our job in a republic? Pay enough attention to what is going on that we know who the people are who share our ideals, our direction, our solutions?

Rather than arguing with each other about who is doing a great job and who should be fired, why don’t we look to support those we find to be uncompromising in their character, in their dedication, in their ability to step back and see the big picture that this country is, in fact, all of ours.

Let’s be uncompromising in our efforts to find ways to live together, with tolerance and respect, and understanding that when we work together, all focused in the same direction, we will more often than not, find the “right” way.