Tag Archive | change

Roller Coaster Rides

Can you remember your favorite ride at the amusement park or carnival? Mine was the roller coaster. I can remember bubbling with excitement as I’d get into the car and finding it difficult to contain my anticipation as I waited for the other cars to fill so the ride could begin. I could hardly sit still, yet I had to wait until the ride operator made his rounds checking to see everyone had fastened their seat belts. In the meantime, I pictured myself flying at break-neck speeds with the wind blasting in my face. I focused on the fun I’d experience and certainly gave no thought to the seatbelt. Surely I wouldn’t need it.  Seatbelts? They were merely a proactive measure to avoid liability, something you were supposed to do, a necessary evil.

roller coaster maverick_airtime1Finally our cavalcade began to move, slowly at first and then increasing to gain momentum to climb. By the time I reached the top of the steep incline, I had no time to do anything but hold on tight and scream with emotions racing between fear and delight. It was so much fun. Even after experiencing several episodes of these peaks and valleys eventually leading back to the starting point, I lacked appreciation for the protection my seatbelt provided. It never crossed my mind. I took it for granted, yet had it not been securely in place, I’d have been flying through the air, all right, but not with the greatest of ease.

Don’t you sometimes feel like life is like a roller coaster ride? You start out at the bottom, learn a few things, gain momentum then all of a sudden you’re going in a different direction, and it feels like that path is headed down. Change is like that. It hits you smack in the face – sometimes without warning and the cycle is often repeated many times before the ride is over. The ups and downs aren’t much fun, and you begin to ask yourself, “What measures have I put into place to keep me secure as I hang on for dear life?”

If you have made wise choices along the way, especially placing your faith in the Lord, you will have the security and perspective you need to focus on the voyage and not the ups and downs. Reflecting on your selections and making adjustments to compensate for the change will help you to have joy in the journey like I did on the roller coaster ride.

Humbug to New Years’ Resolutions

Happy_Newyear_Wallpaper_2013_11Although we celebrated Christmas last week, Scrooge’s holiday greeting of “Humbug,” holds more truth in reference to New Years. At New Years’ we feel almost obligated to write down a list of resolutions that will improve our health, appearance or success, but unfortunately, most of the resolutions just don’t stick.

This year I did not write a list of resolutions as I have in the past, and based on my email inbox, a lot of others are feeling the same way. What usually happens is we see the New Year with all of its potential for a clean slate and a fresh beginning. We relish the thought of putting past failures behind and moving forward. It sounds good in theory, but by January 5th most of our grandiose ideas of becoming thinner, fitter and more productive have already been replaced with our former habits. And the list? It’s usually buried in a pile somewhere and never seen again. No matter how strong the initial motivation, it doesn’t last long enough to incorporate the work required to make a permanent change.

Developing a new habit or life practice requires an internal change. Some might call it an attitude adjustment or change of heart, but the power to make a lasting change comes from God. So that’s the first step. We start by submitting our desires to Him because He delights in seeing us succeed.

But here’s another thought. The Chinese claim that 2013 is the Year of the Snake, some of the South American countries have dubbed it the International Year of Quinoa, and the UN has declared it the International Year of Water Cooperation. I’m proposing that we call 2013 the year of the Baby Step. Instead of taking a huge leap forward, we just start moving in the direction we know we should go. Each of us can take a baby step forward to make the changes we need. We can repeat it later today and again tomorrow and the day after that. We can write it down. We can post it on the fridge or mirror, and we can review and practice it until it becomes part of our lives. The key is to make it intentional.

Once we see results, we can add a different baby step to the mix, but keep a record of the first measure of success in a prominent place. It will spur you on as the steps get harder. Hmmm – maybe the steps won’t be as hard if we’re doing them in increments. And if we fall down, we’ll get up again. That’s what baby’s do when they’re learning to walk. We have no shame in falling unless we don’t get up.

Most of all, I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013.

History is about to change. Are you ready?

While waiting in a doctor’s office, I picked up a copy of the local newspaper. I’m always interested in people and their viewpoints, so I headed to the “Opinion” column. One person wrote in about a TV ad that obviously went against his candidate. Perhaps you’ve seen it also. This person opined the depiction of a young mom running to vent her frustration at her 2008 vote for Obama’s slogan of “Change.”

Rather than listen to the content of the message, the writer criticized the quality of this mom’s jogging stroller and the clothing of both her running attire and that of her little girl. Has this man never heard of grandparents or eBay? He also noted that he’d watched the ad several times to see if the woman was actually wearing a wedding ring. He carefully noted that he did not detect one meaning that he could not see it, but he did not offer a reason why. Were his eyes too dim? Did she not have one on? And if that was the case was it because she had just finished washing dishes and forgot, she needed to hock it for cash, the financial pressures of her husband being out of work caused a riff in their marriage resulting in divorce; etc.? Were her hands hidden? Was the picture too small to see it even if it were there? We don’t know and neither did he, but you can guess his implication.

Here’s my point. If you have nothing better to do than rip campaign ads to shreds, and you have an analytical or critical spirit, go for it. Right now you’ve got plenty to look at on both sides of the spectrum. But if you’re trying to persuade voters to choose your candidate, you have certainly lost my vote.

Let’s deal with the real issues facing us today and determine if we’re better off before or after the Obama administration.

  • How about our economy?
  • Are you doing better or worse, are you richer or poorer? (Sounds like wedding vows, but we’re not married to Obama.)
  • What do you think about the increase in the national debt?
  • Why are many medical professionals throwing in the towel because of Obamacare?
  • How do the candidates stand on issues that impact your personal values?

Do you know?

I heard about a young man who was not sure if he would vote in this election. This would be his first opportunity. He said he wanted to be an informed voter, and as of the Sunday prior to the election, he did not know where the candidates stood. Fair enough. As we saw from the above comments on TV ads, the sound bites may not be clear. If that’s your stand, then check out FRC Action’s (Family Research Council) voter’s guide. It’s downloadable so that you can share it or carry it with you on Election Day.

History is about to change, but we all need to do our part and vote. Are you ready?

Can you find the perfect cheese?

I am still in the process of removing the stacks from my home office, but in so doing I found an insert from a book by Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? In this quick read, Spencer spins his tale of two little mice that awaken one morning to find their cheese is missing. The cheese is an allegorical representation of those things we hold as a high priority for life like your job or perhaps an important relationship. Through their adventures to discover a new food supply, Spencer engagingly outlines the steps we all need to turn the challenge of change into the true opportunity it is. The insert contains 7 bullet points as a reminder of his key points. I think you’ll get the gist of the message. If not, you can get the book. The points are copied below:

  • Change happens – They keep moving the cheese
  • Anticipate change – Get ready for the cheese to move
  • Monitor change – Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
  • Adapt to change quickly – The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
  • Change – Move with the cheese
  • Enjoy change – Savor the adventure and the taste of new cheese!
  • Be ready to quickly change again and again – They keep moving the cheese

Spencer had a goldmine of an idea with this one. Today, not only is the original book still in demand, but he has created a specialized training curriculum for corporations using this material. Some of the more prominent companies use it with their employees. He’s also come up with specialized editions for teens and kids.

Now the book was very helpful as are the points listed above, but here’s the real question. Is it easier to learn from a story than it is from a list of points? It gets my vote because the bullet list triggered some detailed recollections of the tale, and I read it over 10 years ago. (Sometimes I cannot recall what I had for breakfast, so I’m thinking this is a stellar teaching tool.) Patrick Lencioni also uses this method of teaching business principles by illustrating them in a fictional format. Perhaps there are some who prefer Dragnet’s “Joe Friday” approach of “Just the facts, ma’am,” but the narrative accounts hold my interest and hence boost my retention.  If I understand the plan from the experience of two fictional mice and can remember it, I think I’ll be better able to adjust to change and find the perfect cheese.

What’s a six-letter word for …

What’s a six-letter word for vacation?

Before you think of Europe, Disney, or some other fantastic place to relax and unwind (Whoa … there are 6 letters in unwind.), think again. These may be applicable, but they’re not the right one. I’ll give you a hint. It begins with “C” and few people easily embrace it. Give up? The word is change.

Think about it. Whether you travel to an exotic resort, go to visit family or relax in the comfort of your own home, each vacation you are expected to change. You change location, direction and pace – all because you’re not going to work. And although it may take a day or two to sink in, you feel better all over. Even your face begins to sport a smile because you’ve reinvented who you are. You’re a vacationer.

And if you’re a writer, artist, musician, entrepreneur, or person with an imaginative bent, you’re going to begin to see and feel life differently. While there’s no pressure around you, ideas will begin to spring up that you’ll be able to transform into your creative genre. Problems will begin to resolve and answers will begin to form. Life will be good.

So why resist change? The end results will usually be good if you wait long enough. It often takes time, just like your vacation. Think about some of the adventures you’ve had in the past. Some events did not turn out the way you planned, but you still had a good time and maybe, just maybe, you benefited in unexpected ways. The Lord always works things together for good.

If you’re vacation has passed, I hope you had a great time and experienced some of these change benefits. If you’re still in the planning stages or ready to head out, ENJOY. Look for the opportunities that will unfold before you as you change your lifestyle for the week. When you return, you’ll be ready to embrace a new kind of change.

The monarch is coming

In our area, August ushers in the last weeks of summer and with it the emergence of the monarch butterfly. The monarch egg hatches into a green caterpillar with black and gold stripes. By now he has had his fill of leafy greens, spun his chrysalis, experienced metamorphosis, and is preparing to emerge. What is interesting is that each year the process is repeated four times with four generations. You can click here to read more but that is not where I’m headed.

You may have heard this story about the monarch butterfly before, but I think it bears repeating. A young boy happened by the chrysalis of a monarch butterfly just as it was beginning to emerge. He watched the intriguing process and was touched by how hard the emerging butterfly had to work to break through to his new life. He wanted to help, so he slipped his pen knife from his pocket and began to gently cut away the butterfly’s prison walls so that he could be free. He continued to watch as the monarch spread his beautiful wings and died. When the troubled boy recounted this event to his father, the father explained that the process of breaking through the tough shell is what makes the wings strong enough for him to fly. Without the pain and struggle, he was too weak to live.

I like to be reminded of this illustration especially when life’s dramas tend to wear me down and choke out my hope for the future. Just like the butterfly, I need these struggles to change me and make me strong so that I can fulfill my unique purpose in life. Through such times I learn to see just how great God is. He uses these experiences to make me kinder, more forgiving, more compassionate and able to extend grace to those who are in need of it. And through it, I am prepared to continue to follow the plan God has for me. Isn’t it exciting to see how God uses His creation to explain many of the mysteries of life?

Moving out

Do you hate to move? I’m actually talking about changing your residence rather than a physical feat, but if you have ever transferred from one location to another, you know there’s plenty of exercise going on during the process.

According to Melissa Data and the US Census bureau, “out of a population of 282,556,000 people, 40,093,000 moved. That’s an overall percentage of 14.19 percent annually.” Were you one of them?

As an adult, I have had to move several times. Yes, adventure of a new beginning on the other side beckoned me, but the pre-requisite involved going through the mountains of things collected and stored in boxes in the basement and attic, stuffed into closets and cupboards or mounded on the shelves. Then I had to go through it all and discard, give away, sell or repack what was left, pack it into a truck, haul it to the new location and find a place to put it all. Here’s the strange part. When I went to move the next time, I found some of these same boxes still packed from the previous move. I guess the items in these containers weren’t useful after all, though they brought a measure of comfort. It may sound comical, yet isn’t this sometimes how we live our lives?

We get excited about a new job, new neighborhood, new relationship or some other new enterprise, and we prepare for the change. Our confidence is high. We lay aside the old routines and familiar traditions, a few unproductive habits and negative thought patterns. We’re making a fresh start.  We pack up the outstanding skills and characteristics that provided the opportunity and get ready to go. We make the move and transition into the new situation, but it appears something is holding us back. Alas, we discover those boxed up fears and past failures we had before. We did not get rid of them. We just packed them up and brought them along.

When we embark on a new situation or opportunity, we need to make sure that we don’t tote along any excess baggage. It adds no value, but it can certainly produce unnecessary weight that could hold us back.

Look around. Do you have any beat up old containers filled with bad memories, resentment or fears? Getting rid of them will be your biggest boost to making the move out of your Comfort Zone to the next successful phase of your life.