I heard someone talking about pride and envy and it has haunted me ever since. A little too close to home, I think. These are two thoughts that I use to compare myself to others. I did so unknowingly, until I heard someone talk about it. It was one of those aha moments where I realized I was doing something unconsciously.
Now that I’ve identified this tendency, I’m working super hard on eradicating it from my thought process. That is not easy. It still pops up now and then. I have to whack it out with the hope that some day it will be banished forever.
Part of my eradication process is to remind myself that we’re all on different paths. None are better or worse. All paths are simply different. Many times, my perception of someone is completely wrong anyway. There’s that person I thought had a perfect life and turns out they have a difficult one. Or, someone who I thought had a horrific life but is actually very content.
Embracing the ‘no one has it easy, no one has it hard’ philosophy is a tough one. I wrote the book Seven Bridges with that thought in mind. We’re all on different paths at different times for different reasons. I don’t believe that this is all random. In fact, I would say it’s nearly impossible that our paths would be random. I do believe that pride and envy are unnecessary reactions that only serve to muddle up our own unique journeys.
People often use the term ‘they say’ when prefacing some fact. For example, ‘They say you shouldn’t go out in the rain or you’ll catch a cold,’ I began asking recently, ‘Whose they?” Not one person has been able to answer this simple question.
If you delve into this nuance and the results of my unscientific study, one might conclude that folks just don’t know where their information comes from. What with endless sources streaming from our devices you might think that we’d be better informed. However, I’m convinced it’s made us not only less informed but abundantly misinformed.
With truth and fiction intertwined, this is a great time for anarchists to create havoc. Maybe if more of us ask ‘Whose they?’ when in conversation, it’ll start to highlight the danger of our information sources. Let’s face it, we’re new at this. We’re continually evolving into our new culture which is layered with instant information and misinformation access.
I was watching a Stephen King movie and realized he nearly always has that one character who takes a bad situation and makes it worse. Then, gets others to follow. This launched my thought process into an evaluation of human nature.
We tend to get a hefty dose of negative stories. Media outlets will say it’s because negativity sells. I’m not entirely convinced of this. Case in point, CBS news reported about a young man who had to walk miles to work each day. On a 95-degree day a passerby offered him a ride to work. One thing led to another and the young man was given a car by a local dealership, covering all of the car’s expenses for at least a year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuhWhSObbOs. Fabulous story. Heartwarming and inspiring. The evidence overwhelming points to the fact that people are basically good. If that were not the case, if people were basically bad, then there wouldn’t be news stories about bad people because it would be ordinary.
I really do wish this insane divisiveness that is currently plaguing our country would just go away. Instead, it’s kindled by horrific stories, many of which were unimaginable until now. Throughout history there have been great leaders who were able to rise above times like these and define what unites us. I believe we’re ready for such a person now. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.
I collect photographs of signs whose content makes me cringe or laugh. I’ve decided it’s time to release my collection for public viewing. Enjoy.
There’s a feeling I get when I’ve finished writing a book. The last words are typed with gusto that falls just short of damaging the keyboard. Immediately after that last period is placed, I have to get up from my seat and pace until the rush simmers down. Once my heart slows, there’s about 24 hours when no matter what I’m doing, the thought that I finished a book sneaks into my mind over and over. It’s like I can’t believe it, and feel so relieved that it’s done. I had forgotten about that feeling until I finished my fifth book last week. The feeling is unobtainable from anything else. It’s the overall sense of accomplishment, but also specifically that an idea was forged into reality.
Something that started as a tiny little thought, rolled around and captured additional fodder that could be used to support the thought, then grew a little. Then grew a little more. Then, became almost painful because it was too big to NOT be on paper. It begged to be set free.
What’s interesting is that once it’s on paper, if it’s successful or not to others is secondary to the fact that a story has been created out of thin air, flowing from my head to my fingers to a Word document. Unfortunately, the feeling is addictive. From the first time I felt it, I wanted to replicate the experience.
Three more are circling in the rafters. All in various degrees of readiness. My mind will let me know when they’re ready to be set free.
I was at the grocery store when my cell phone rang. The caller ID said “Jesus.” My heart leapt before remembering that our pest control person’s name is Jesus. I’ve never learned his last name.
This got me thinking. What if Jesus did call me? What would He say?
“Is this Jolene?”
No, He would already know who He was calling.
“Hi Jolene, how are you doing?”
I’m feeling confident He would already know the answer to that.
“Will you do something for me?”
Pretty sure that’s what the Holy Spirit is for.
What if I decline the call? Would He leave a voice message? Maybe send me a text instead?
I can’t think of why He might call, but I do think it would freak me out. Not sure why. Maybe because He would have transcended from inside of me to externally. A call from Jesus would take quite some time to wrap my brain around. This little thought process provided me with a closer look inside of the Bible stories where God appears. Holy smoke!
Schools used to break for the summer so that kids could help work in the fields. While schools still adhere to this tradition, laws have made it nearly impossible for kids to work at all. The laws were put into place to protect children, however, the unintended consequence is that most businesses don’t want the headaches of sifting through a myriad of labor laws to bother with a person under 18. So those kids are left with a home that probably has both parents working and they have nothing to do. Of course our nation’s children have a drug problem. They’re bored and largely unsupervised.
At the age of 18 you are required to be available to serve and perhaps die to protect our country. You’re taught how to shoot a gun and participate in war, yet, in California, you can’t purchase cigarettes or drink alcohol until the age of 21.
On the other end of the spectrum at age 70 you are no longer considered eligible to be a juror in our judicial system. However, eight of our U.S. presidents have been nearly that age or older while governing the most powerful nation in the world.
None of this makes sense.
We had a group of women who were preparing for a marathon. One Saturday morning, we were driving into the mountains for a more strenuous workout. Two of us were new to the group and sat quietly in the back of the car. At some point, I turned to the lady next to me and asked her what other things she did other than running. She replied that she was a veterinarian. Her entire family were missionaries in Eastern Europe. They had come home for a sabbatical. The remainder of the ride, and on the way back after our run, the conversation in the car primarily centered on her. Her life was fascinating. We would not have known anything about her if I hadn’t asked her that one question.
I was working on a promotion for United Way. I distributed a promotional invitation to all of the local churches along with my phone number for more information. A woman with a thick accent called me. It was difficult to understand what she was saying and the conversation took much longer than I had the patience for. She did want to participate in the promotion but had no means of getting to the location. I reluctantly agreed to pick her up and bring her back. I believe I rolled my eyes as I committed to this. When she got into the car I began with small talk – she was a stranger with a language barrier so it was a bit uncomfortable. As we drove, we learned that she and her husband had fled Iran as persecuted Christians. They had left everything behind. Soon after they arrived here, there was a major earthquake in her home town which killed nearly their entire extended family. As she continued to provide details of her life, I began to feel more and more appalled at my initial attitude toward her. It was an excellent lesson in humility.
My son was on a soccer team. We were at a tournament with a lot of time between games. The mother sitting next to me is a single mother with an only-child. Out of nowhere she tells me that when she was in college she became pregnant. She carried the baby to term and then gave it up for adoption. That baby was now a 20-something man and had found her. Her only other child, the soccer player who was in high school, had been unaware that he had an older brother. Now the mother and two boys began the process of knowing each other and creating family memories together. You never really know what is in a person’s past unless they chose to tell you.
A colleague of mine is from a wealthy family. When they were kids, his father took the children camping. They had never been camping before. They went out and bought all of the necessary items. Loading up the car they headed to the mountains. Mom didn’t go. They sat up camp, ate and went to sleep. Early the next morning, Dad woke the kids up and told them to pack up the car, they were going home. When they reached their hometown, Dad stopped at their Country Club and made the children shower in the locker rooms. He was not going to take them home only to soil their own bathrooms. The only moral to this story is that it’s so funny. Either you love camping or you don’t.
Another colleague owns several businesses and continues to start up new ones. I asked to write a feature article about his businesses for a local magazine and he agreed. Turns out, he migrated with his parents to the U.S. illegally as a child. He worked alongside them in the fields. He ended up working for an agricultural related company as a young man. His work ethic and intelligence did not go unnoticed by his employer. When the owner of the company decided to retire, he offered the young man the opportunity to purchase the business over time. He was able to grow the business and payoff the debt quickly. It expanded and continued to be the catalyst for additional new businesses that vertically integrated with his existing business. He focused on new technology in every aspect of his endeavors. Most of his businesses have an engineering element. My colleague never went to college or formally learned engineering. He did end up sending his two sons to college. Both are now engineers and being groomed to take over the operations when he retires. It doesn’t matter how you start out, what matters is what you do with what you’ve been given.
In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would focus on the force of mothers. What word do people say in front of a word expressing something scary and forceful? Answer, ‘Mother.’ Here are my five examples:
1) Mother of all bombs (MOAB) - Why would something as destructive as a bomb be called a mother? Because it's appropriate.
2) Mother Nature – this is actually the most accurate description of mothers. She’s beautiful, soft, comforting but also violently powerful with a variety of tools to get her job done.
3) Mama bear – it’s a foregone conclusion that you do not get between a mother bear and her cub. Even humans use this term to describe a human mother who’s become extraordinarily protective of her offspring. It doesn’t seem to be as dangerous if you get between a father and his child (no offense dad’s). The mother is considered far more vicious under these circumstances.
4) “The mother of all wars” was a term coined by then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when the US first began the Gulf War. Even in a region where women are suppressed, the President of that country used the term ‘mother’ when rattling his saber.
5) Mother fucker – I know, crass, and not a term I use often – except maybe when I’m driving, but I would be remiss to not at least acknowledge this phrase. It’s not called ‘Father fucker’ now is it.
Mothers have that innate ability to just go ballistic if the situation requires such behavior. It’s the primal response that moms have little control over. It’s like releasing the kraken – the reason you only use the kraken as a final measure is because it’s difficult to control and difficult to put back into captivity. But oh, so effective in getting the point across. So, here’s to you, you Forces to Be Reckoned With. Enjoy the celebration of what makes you, you.
We were having lunch at a local restaurant. The table next to us had a family from out of town. The daughter asked for whipping cream. The waitress brought her an entire can, which the girl proceeded to empty on top of her pancakes. As she's eating her mother said, "Kingsburg is a Swedish town." The girl pointed to the whipping cream and asked, "Because of this?" Mom replied, "Why would you say that?" The girl responded, "It's sweetish?"
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.