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Archive for the ‘Living Life Well’ Category

As I observe life, its complexity of shaping forces at work, I am impacted by the way events have the power to literally mold who we become.

My eldest daughter is in cross-country. With all of her effort she has applied herself to optimize her abilities to run cross-country in such a way that she is able to cross the finish line with joy and personal satisfaction.

Much to her recent disappointment, she has experienced some difficulties with her breathing (lungs) and is in need of an evaluation to find the source of the problem. She has worked so hard to improve her pace, stride, and consequently her finishing time.

Imagine living life, “daily training and working on your stride, pace and qualifying time” endeavoring to “finish well” and none of your training or effort had direct influence on your “shaping ability” or the “form” that you were trying to improve. How would you feel about your life? What types of statements would you be making about yourself? How despairing and meaningless life would become.

John Sanford, says that the process of entering God’s Kingdom is a process of becoming an individual. It requires stepping apart from the crowd, from the mass movements that are always the easier way, “to suffer the pain and difficulty of becoming a conscious person.” 

Life, as I have mentioned, is the most valued, meaningful, and intense conversation you will have. Everyday there is a new conversation. Remnants of yesterday’s conversation may still be lingering and may need some attention. Anticipation for today’s conversation engages with day-to-day events and becoming more aware (conscious) of how they are shaping us and molding us into our true identity. If we are able to give consent to God (surrender), we can engage most deeply in a process allowing ourselves to be changed into an identity that fulfills the purposes of God while we are here on earth. As we do this, our conversations with or about tomorrow will not be filled with fear or anxiety, rather, a priceless creation that extends beyond our own ability or measure: the fulfillment of LIFE itself.

Photos Coutesy of Flickr Foto 43, Microsoft Clip Organizer

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Like everyone else, I got up this morning, got ready for the day, and landed with my first task that seemingly got my day started. Is not that what we all do? Each day brings with it the many tasks that seem to be “what we have to do” to start our day.

I began thinking about this a little more and realized that each day we begin exchanging life for someone or freshwater loose pearls for the things that we deem as “important” to us. Think about it. In my earlier post Stepping Into Life, I discussed the necessity of taking steps, one-by-one and eventually the summit appears. Prior to ever taking the first step to reach the summit begs the question, What am I exchanging my life for, each moment, as I take steps onward and upward to achieve the peak of any given summit?

I am reminded of a story that Jesus spoke of. He states that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of See full size imagegreat value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

I realize that I am combining two thoughts simultaneously at this point. However, what I believe the significance of what I am trying to say is that each day we are giving our life over to someone or something. We are exchanging our time, energy, thought, and heart for someone or something that we deem as important enough to give our life to. Our time is our life quantified. Our money is simply remuneration for our time. Our energy is the soul of our initiative concerning what we are about in purpose and plan. Are you conscious of your pearls today?

Photos courtesy of  Google Images/Shenzhen Fortune-yon, Overlander

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Recently, I had an opportunity to take  week-long sabbatical. In case you do not know, a sabbatical is “A sabbatical year is a prolonged hiatus, typically one year, in the career of an otherwise successful individual taken in order to fulfill some dream.” In my case it was not a year, nor was it necessarily to fulfill my dream. It was however to gain perspective, and a vantage point about my life. Everyone needs that type of time to consider how and where one is going. I was grateful to have the time to engage & reflect, listen & hear, step & pause. One of the exciting events that I chose while on sabbatical was to climb what is called a 14’er (or fourteener) known as Quandary Peak. In case you have not connected the dots, I was out-of-town visiting the state of Colorado. Colorado has breathtaking views, clean air, and space to “take it all in.” Colorado has over 50 14’ers and all have views that extend beyond the horizon. Quandary is one of many and is a beginners 14’er with a gradual but intense incline.

As I seem to do with most events in my life, I experience them to the fullest measure, meanwhile I extract the symbolic meaning of them as I am engaging and participating in the adventure. Quandary Peak is a 14,265 foot Peak southwest of Breckenridge that begins in the trees and ends up above the treeline. The trail is relatively easy to follow until crossing the treeline and traveling onto the rocky path towards the summit.

As I was venturing upwards, I was remembering when I ran my first marathon in the year 2000. One of the key learnings then was, “anyone can run a marathon, one must simply learn what their pace is to complete the race.” Then, that was a good learning. Knowing what your pace is enables you to complete your race. Life is a race and you are competing with yourself. Knowing what your personal pace is enables you to complete it with the time that is commensurate with your own abilities and commitment. It is so easy to look around and observe the other competitors and compare yourself with what is perceived about “the other.” What an illusion! It goes to show, life is filled with illusions. Back to the climb.

What I learned while climbing was, “the ascent to the top takes place by “stepping into life” one step at a time! Rarely does any progress, achievement, or goal get accomplished while watching or sitting. Though there is a time and place for observation, there is also a time for stepping into the unknown “one step at a time” in order to gradually move into a more full life. I am reminded if the passage in Isaiah 25: 6-9

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine, the best of meats and the finest of wines.

On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever.

The sovereign Lord will wipe away tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

In that day they will say, Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

Step into Life, your life. Go to the summit, your summit. See the peak, the view, the majesty of His glory from your perspective One Step at a TIme! You will receive as you trust each step along the way!

Photos courtesy of Google & 14ers.com, Flickr, tab2space.

 

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The title says it all! I am finding myself perplexed by the degree of complexity that surrounds conversations and relationships. I ask myself, “How on earth did we get here and where do we go from this point on?”

If you have ever been in the position of helping a conversation move forward, you know exactly what I am talking about. Conversation gets bogged down, consequently the relationship gets stuck in this murky, unclear emotional soup that limits freedom of speech, freedom of sensing (other than anger and frustration), and ultimately, freedom “to be” in relationship. I wish to propose that the greatest saboteur is confusion. So, what causes confusion and how does one name it, move out of it, and use it to gain momentum for improving conversation and relationship? Certainly, this could be a book, however, I wish to suggest a few thoughts.

Margaret Wheatley suggests that “Growth is in the roots of all things.” I really appreciate that phrase. Growth truly is the genesis of all organic matter. When life endeavors to grow, it sends its tender roots down to absorb the life and nutrients that are available in the soil.

Conversation is similar. We send our tendrils out into the void not knowing how the other person will respond, yet we hope that there will be something to gently “connect” to in relationship with the sense of “other” in the conversation. In an earlier post, I suggested that the quality of change in a person’s life must come  out of their view of reality. I am certain that if we do not boost the importance of conversation we will continue to experience the consistent limitations of what we are currently experiencing. I believe that conversation is sabotaged by four primary qualities:

  1. Poor listening
  2. Closed attitudes and heart condition
  3. Fear of being wrong with a greater emphasis on being right
  4. Prior conversations that have already tainted reality and perceptions

300-365 by sicliff3. When we begin to notice the emotional stickiness of a conversation, be aware that something is happening. The flow is absorbed by added mental processing to overcome and guarantee refuge in the event that there is not receptivity or connection. Flight, fight, or freeze, typically is our dominant response.

Improving the conversation will need the opposite of the already mentioned saboteurs. Improvement begins with a few pointers:

  1. Willingness to listen.
  2. Being open  and curious not so much about what another has to say, rather what meaning is conveyed while conversation is taking place.
  3. Posturing oneself in a position of not knowing until learning from another has taken place.
  4. Possessing boldness to be honest.

Certainly this is my most lengthy blog. How do I say what needs to be said.? What do you have to say?

Photos Courtesy of Flickr, Tsmyther, Tina Manthorp, Siclif3

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I am becoming more aware of the degree to which people feel isolated from one another. Loneliness, emptiness, despair, and turning one’s affections from what fulfills and creates life to indulging in parts of life that offer nothing more than the slimy consolation prize which in turn certainly communicates: “you’re not a winner.” Sometimes I simply have had enough of the paltry and squalid side of life. I long for and desire so much more for relationships, people, and the daily experience that is created from our human efforts.

“Every change in the quality of a person’s life must grow out of a change in his or her vision of reality.”  This quote comes from a book that  I am reading. You can check out the links for yourself. The book suggests that there is a wisdom of tenderness that coincides with the Words of Jesus as the master vision of reality. Essentially, our picture of God creates our understanding of reality with all the mental, emotional, and relational paradigms that go along with it. Understanding and identifying with our picture of God is an honest beginning for knowing where to commence defining the world we live in.

Where is the place that we begin or continue to turn for our own personal consolation when the world does not make sense? If we turn to God and we receive nothing more than silence, often in our own spiritual immaturity we conclude with, “God must not care.” If in turning to others we are told religious blather God merely is reduced to the trivial understanding of our own ignorance. If we turn to one another, what do we turn to one another for? Are we merely temporary sources of comfort amidst the discomforts of life. What place do we (our relationships) hold with each other?

I witness and listen to a variety of relational experiences where people are disillusioned and confused with their relationships and the purpose they have in their life. I am certain that conversations must turn to God but also to one another. The quality of these conversations, in my estimation, outweighs the quantity of conversation.

I have been a witness to conversations that seem to spin around the maypole amassing quantity yet the end result is anemic with mutual understanding and connection. Conversations that listen at a depth that is commensurate with what is being said appears to be central to arriving with a level of connection that satisfies. My next entry will discuss conversations that listen.

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Picture Organizer

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A while ago, I wrote a post that described the necessity to Keep the Conversation Going. Similarly, the post that you are reading  points towards the need for keeping the inner conversation with yourself  fresh and alive.

Yesterday, I was discussing with an individual particular circumstances that were engulfing her ability to maintain buoyancy and personal perspective in her life. She described her situation as a dark shadow that was overcoming her ability to see any light in her situation. Our conversation together continued to hover around the particulars of her situation but more so her “ability to see” herself in her situation and to see more than what she now was experiencing. What resulted was a Conversation about Meaning.

We are forced, sometimes , as we face difficulties, to ask questions that we do not have immediate answers. Events happen, our lives rearranged, and peril begins to enter our emotions and thoughts. Dread begins to set in similar to water that solidifies concrete when it sets up. A clear direction is not in sight and stagnation or resignation seems like the only alternative. Where do we search for and answer?

A dear friend of mine recently wrote a blog that addresses decision-making in the context of the confusing swirl of the journey of  life at a crossroad. In addition to asking, “What is the right thing to do?”, is there a place to understand and address the question, “Where does my meaning come from in this given situation?” 

Each circumstance in life that we experience compels us to check whether we will end with despair and emptiness or meaning, purpose, and value. As I began to process with this women her “sense of purpose” in the midst of her circumstance, what resulted was a lengthy conversation about her needs, longings, desires, hopes, and dreams.

Despite the tragedy at hand, her soul possessed the deep well of life as represented in needs, longings. desires, hopes, and dreams. One author put it this way, When we pay attention to our longing and allow questions about our longing to strip away the outer layers of self-definition, we are tapping into the deepest dynamic of the spiritual life. The stirring of spiritual desire indicates that God is already at work within us, drawing us to himself.”  It is difficult at times to see God in the midst of our difficulties and ‘yet it is in our difficulties that we often most clearly see God and therefore ourselves.’ I am grateful for the well within that contains the  life and residency of God. This grants permission for new perspectives and new beginnings despite hardship. What do you think?

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Clip Organizer & BrandonRhodes Photo Stream

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This morning I was reflecting on the many conversations that I have been a part of this past Memorial Day weekend. For many, Memorial day is filled with the need to experience recreation by being outside and engaging in some type of activity:  fishing, boating, or camping, in addition to remembering those that have gone before us and have passed away. My time was spent reflecting about my late father, being with family, gardening, and sailing.

Aside from the enjoyment of particular activities was the engagement of connecting with family and friends. Whether it be phone conversations or personal exchanges over a meal, connecting  was the linchpin that created the overall meaning of my time with family and friends.

Why do we as human beings have such a need to connect? Why is it so gratifying when we are able to meet with people and walk away with so much more than what we came with? What are we actually walking away with? Often I will in my coaching or therapy relationships hear how a person no longer wishes to be in relationship with others due to the fear of getting hurt. Naturally, they have already gotten hurt and their perceived immediate reaction is to abandon any sense of relationship that will replicate the same injury that they are experiencing. The result is an experience of increased isolation and loneliness. The outcome is a cycle of of downward spiraling into discouragement and sometimes depression.

The question remains: how do we connect when we are hurt? Do we merely become confrontational and address things with a big stick? Do we simply absorb the hurt, the confusion, or even the unintended frustrations and drift away leaving the relationship void and bankrupt of the life needed to redeem the relationship?

Love is energy. Life is relationship, Living is the beautiful chemistry within the context of our own personalities to embrace the beauty of our longing for love (connection), our need for daily life (living). We struggle with this as humans. We have an inability to know and express love in harmony with another. We fall so short. We fail. We are at times ignorant and unknowledgeable. We need help. We need God!

Life Leadership on a deeper level goes beyond the surface activity and moves deeper towards knowing your own heart and becoming aware of your personal trust structures. Trust structures are deep seated attitudes and orientations out of which behavior patterns flow. Ultimately, our deep trust structures are areas in our lives where we are still captive of our own anxieties and do not trust God. We are still bound up, defensive and self-protective in order to maintain our more fragile sense of self. Connecting begins to leads us towards the  experience of transformation by offering us an opportunity to invite each other into the presence of God and relationship with one another.

Photos courtesy of  Microsoft

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