Start Again

Did you make a resolution for 2021? If you did, where are you at in your progress? Are you still going? Did you stop?

If you are still making progress towards your resolution, then take time to celebrate that progress.

If you have stopped. Try this. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t laugh at yourself.
Start again. Yes, begin again. You set the intention. You made the resolution. Just start again.

Imagine this. You have planned a long trip. You are traveling by car. At some point during the trip, you stop. It could be to purchase gas. Perhaps it is to buy snacks, get some coffee, or use the restroom.

When you have finished, have you ever decided to just stay where you are at?

Take up residence at the gas station? The coffee shop? The store? No, you keep going. The place where you stopped is not the place you intended to go.

What do you do? You get back in your car and begin again. You head towards your goal.

Take time to reflect on this situation.

Where are you? If you have a setback, and this is why you had to stop pursuing your goal, then continue to take the time you need.

If not. Then just begin again. Get back into your car. Start the engine and begin to drive.

Show up each day and pursue your goal, your resolution, your project. You can. It isn’t against the rules because there aren’t any rules. If you want rules, guess what? You are the writer of the rules.

The goals that you set are for you. Now go pursue them!

Job

A job isn’t a death wish. You must be able to meet your financial obligations, serve, and be a part of the community. It is the place to cultivate your gifts, talents, and abilities.

Jobs, Career, whatever you call it. We are designed and created to spend our time in active movement. Our movement should be doing something that benefits others and allows us to sustain ourselves and our families.

There are many opinions about jobs, careers. There are people out there trying to sell you on what a job is and what a job isn’t. Individuals who want you to pay for their definition of a job and a career.

Call it a job, call it a career. Whatever it is, each day, you go out and have tasks to do, work that is waiting for you. Decisions to be made. People to serve.

What do you think about your job? Your Career? Are they one and the same? Is it possible to hare one and love the other? What if you don’t enjoy either one? Is it possible to change your story or change your location?

Working

Do you have a dream job, or do you like to work? It could be both. I was raised to value working. It didn’t matter what you did for work. You needed to be working, meeting your responsibilities, and applying your talents.

This is what I saw modeled with my parents, extended family, and relatives. People didn’t talk about dream jobs, finding your why, emotional intelligence, etc. I don’t believe that any of these are bad in and of themselves, but I believe they can become toxic when they diminish the current work you are doing.

I believe that if you don’t like your job, career, you should move to something else, or at least have a plan to.
If you are in a job or career that you don’t like, you should take time to be thankful for the benefits that the job gives you and the opportunities provided within it. Give yourself credit for obtaining skills that are of use to others in the current environment you are in.

I have been in toxic work environments in my career as an educator. At the current moment, thankfully, I am not. In the past, that wasn’t the case. I worked for two employers in two different schools that were charged criminally. Going through that process was hard; looking back on that time has begun to be harder.

I knew when I was working for people under investigation that I had a job to do. I had to serve students, parents, and families. I was thankful for the ability to pay my bills, my decisions, and support my family.

I also knew that I could’ve left. I could’ve at any time started a job search and within time. I could have found new employment.
I didn’t. When the time came to leave, I was asked to once because I spoke out publicly about the organization’s finances. The second time, the organization stated they didn’t have enough money to fund my position.

Later you see people occupying the position that you had, but the name has been changed. I guess those things are legal, but to me, they aren’t ethical.

It is hard to get over working hard, giving 100 percent, and then find out that you are no longer wanted. Internally, you want to fight back and throw punches, but then I realized that integrity and character matter. I have it, and those that sought to create short-cuts don’t. I am not perfect. I find myself wondering if I should look for a dream job, something I want to do, etch out a position, and a company set a goal. I don’t think that is it. I also think that maybe I should at least try?

Relationships

Relationships.

They are important for all of us.

Look around at your relationships.

Ask yourself this question.

How or Where did you meet a special relationship?

Reflect on your special relationships, How they have helped you and how you helped them.

Celebrate and Honor them. Cherish your relationships.

 

Lurking

What is lurking inside of you? Does it bring you joy? Grief? Stress? Anger? The answer could be all of them at various points during the day. There is joy after a project, the smile of a spouse, the laughter of a child.

There is anger directed at increasing violence, racism, and hatred on display in the media. There is grief that comes from hearing about the tragic loss of life that happens every day even though we are surrounded by so much prosperity. A world where we all are trying to obtain financial riches, even though we see the same evidence day after day that people who have it aren’t happy.

Then there is stress. It lives inside of us, chipping away days of our lives, and we aren’t even aware of the price we are paying.
This cycle runs inside of me every five to ten minutes on a loop. Each day, rinse, repeat for as long as I am awake.

What is the answer?
Does life really have an answer? People live as it does, but we consistently over history make the same mistakes.

Life has choices, and we have choices. Choices to use our voices to speak out against the wrong things, choices to lend a hand to help, and the choice to create, serve, listen.

Choices are opportunities that will produce an outcome. One they may work. Or one that may not. It is worth it to try.
Back to the original question, what is lurking inside of you?

Parables

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus tells the story of a Farmer scattering his seeds. The sower’s parable is in the book of Luke Chapter 8 if you want to check it out for yourself. The last soil sticks out to me, and it also was the one I hope to be.

Paraphrasing Jesus, the third soil’s story went like this, the farmer scattered seed on good soil, and it produced a crop. Later, when Jesus explained the third soil, he compared it to people who heard the word, retained it, and by persevering produce a crop.

I want to produce a crop. We all want to produce crops. Crops can take various forms, but I think that in my mind, crops can take the form of possessions, houses, cars, money, status. I crave those things.
This is not the crop I believe that Jesus was referring to; persevering for possessions, working for status could end up leaving me choked out by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures. Jesus says that this is what happens to people who are in the second set of soils.

At this point, you may be checked out as a reader; why in the world would I want to read about Jesus, soils, crops,
What is the point?

The point is this. I feel a strong pull for possessions, A new car, A new house, A vacation. How do I fight these cravings? Loop one is that I try to deny them, then marginalize them as bad. Find an example of someone who pursued them and ended up unhappy.

The next thing I will do is run a counterexample, telling myself that it isn’t all the bad, find an example of people who are thriving, and then beat myself up for not having reached the same goals.
Defeat is what I experience on both of those paths. Instead, it is harder to hear, retain, and persevere, and I believe it is because there are so many things to do and so many crops to grow.

So what does that mean in the end?  Persevering is difficult. It is hard. For me, it is. I am not always joyful, happy, or excited. But I keep going. I am grumpy, angry, sad, and discouraged, but I keep going. I stop and listen to my feelings, but I have to avoid getting stuck for too long inside of them. Keep moving, keep persevering.

On Refrigerators and Gratitude.

I woke up thinking about my refrigerator. It has been working non-stop for 15 years. I believe that is how long my wife and I have lived in our current residence. The fridge does its job. It keeps the food cold and the food in the freezer frozen.

I wish I could say that I took better care of our fridge. We pile things on top of it. Stick notes to the outside of it. I believe we do that because deep down, we can trust our fridge to perform.

I can put the holiday cards on the fridge and the sports schedules on the door. I do this because I know that my fridge will not walk away. This way, when I need to know when the game is or who to send the card to, I look on the door of the fridge.

The fridge is a great place to put things on top of. Extra storage space for some things we forget about. Halloween candy may go on top of the fridge on November 1 and then be discovered in July of the next year. In that case, it is time to throw away the candy.

The fridge has earned trust. It does its job. I could see that the fridge deserves expressions of gratitude. A fridge is an object. It doesn’t desire gratitude, nor will it appreciate it. It runs on the power sources generated by the electrical outlets in our home.

People are different. They do need gratitude for the jobs that they do each day. So make sure that you are a person who takes some time to express gratitude to others. There are people out there who show up each day and are trusted year after year after year.

March Madness on Monday.

So what was new about March Madness on Monday? What was different? The games were being played in one state, the fans were limited, the bands were missing, but the game being played on the floor. The basketball was still the same. Audiences will tolerate and go along with new experiences, but a new experience doesn’t change the game.

The fans came for basketball. If Michigan and LSU started throwing a football around the court, then fans on TV would be upset. Advertisers would be upset, The alumni would be upset. Changing the genre, not the experience, is breaking a promise. People expect to be taken on a journey, and that journey can be found in your creative work.

So be what you are. If you are a podcast when someone presses click, they expect to hear someone speaking; when they open a book, they will see words, the music they will hear you performing.
Creating an experience and creating a story is what you will have to do as a creative. Creating an event that people want to attend. This is what you are doing with your creative work.
I hope that I am someone who can create great events.

You can be a person who creates great events. Just start with your creative work, and then build from there.

As an audience member, what do you come for? The experience or the genre? When a couple gets married and the dress in Star Wars costumes, they are changing the experience of being at a wedding, because at the end the audience is expecting vows to be exchanged, if the two individuals get to the front, and the bride begins to give a speech on conservative economic principles, and the groom response with liberal encomium positions, and then they open up for questions, you now don’t have a wedding you have a political debate with two people dressed in Star Wars outfits.
If I paid for a plane ticket and a hotel room, now I am really upset. I came for a weddi

ng and an I got a political debate. Trust has been broken. You can alter the experience, but you can’t change what the people came for. What the people came for was a wedding.
Wearing the creator hat, Wearing the audience member hat.

The Right Answer

If I look under the hood long enough, and explore deep, what I come across is the desire to get the right answer.

Not every activity has a correct answer.

Look at it this way, the decision to participate may be the right answer, after that it becomes a series of choices, and stories that you tell.

Participation is enough.

Where is it?

I picked up my headphones today to prepare to practice.

I went to set up my saxophone.

I went looking for my book scales.

I could not find my headphones.

I was just holding them.

I started to retrace my steps.

Looking around.

Then I grew frustrated.

I finally asked my wife.

Have you seen my headphones?

She said to me right away.

” I  know exactly where they are at she said”.

I breathed a sigh of relief, She knew.

‘ “They are on your head”

I reached up and sure enough, my headphones were on my head.