Yes, I have a New Year’s Resolution!

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Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln

This year I decided to make a New Years resolution. What harm could it do? Well, my mind replied, “It could lead to injured pride.”

I ignored the threat and moved on. So, what resolution? Lose weight, cut back on caffeine, exercise? All of these would be good. Wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t benefit from having a really healthy body? I certainly would. But, the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I woke up with a new thought, “You really need to grow up.” It was a little shocking, but true. (Have you ever had a shocking realization about yourself?) I do need to grow up. I don’t mean physically although that would be nice; I mean emotionally. It really is time for me to be more accepting of what is – of things as they are.

Now this wasn’t a new revelation. It’s just that I really wish people made decisions my way – in the world, in our country, at work and at church. (Perhaps you have similar feelings.) Sometimes I find myself having conversations in my head with people from work or from my church explaining how things need to be and they’re listening attentively. But, then another part of me says, “Are you out of your mind? That’s not happening.” That brings me back to reality. Just like me, other people have the power and the right to make their own decisions. My wishing for a different world, and my complaining, changes nothing. I know that, but I still whine and complain.

There are, of course, things that I can do – give to charities, vote, and make suggestions. But, wars will still rage and people will still make what I see as stupid decisions. So, what’s left? Of course, one option is still open – complain to who ever will listen. For example, “I would have done it this way, etc.” But, do I really want to be an armchair critic?

As I reflected I sensed that it was time for me to put focus on a project that I have control of. No more focusing on other people’s work. Man up, focus on my own project and do it as well as I possibly can. No more excuses; get help where it’s needed and do my best. Nothing ventured nothing gained kind of thing. If it’s done poorly or stupidly I’m in control. Change it. Take control. I can get help if I get discouraged. It’s time to stop making excuses for myself.

Of course the down side of taking control is the possibility of failure. I might make a really unfortunate (translate stupid) decision. What would people say about me? Well, most likely, what I’ve said about them. Actually, I’ve gone through a business failure. It was humiliating and depressing and I seriously looked for someone else to blame. But, did I survive? Yes. Did I learn something? Yes. Well then, my mind seemed to tell me, “It’s time to suit up and really get into the game. See what you can do if you single-mindedly focus your energy on it.” I hesitated. Actually, I like control and success; not control and the possibility of failure. But, yes, people do say that failure gives you the experience you sometimes need in order to be successful. That’s fine for others to say; but it’s hard for me to accept. However, it seems to be the truth and I’m working to accept it.

I made my New Years resolution. My 2016 resolution is to focus on writing and photography and see what happens. How successful will I be? I don’t know. But, it does seem like an adventure and it should be more rewarding than complaining. I think my wife will be pleased.

You too may have have made a New Year’s resolution. If not you might consider it. It could be fun. What could you do that might make 2016 an improvement over 2015? You might find the effort rewarding. And, you might find yourself with a grateful partner. It might be worth a thought.

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Time Matters

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“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘don’t want to.”  Lao Tzu

“Time is a game played beautifully by children.”  Heraclitus

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

Time matters more to me at seventy-three than it did at twenty-three. At twenty-three time seemed to stretch out forever. I couldn’t image forty-three much less seventy-three. Now I know that time has limits. It can’t be saved. You spend it. And, I know that how it’s spent pretty much determines my future. Love, respect, and prosperity tend to come to those who spend time wisely.

Time spent foolishly can result in isolation and poverty. Think wisely about time. Ask yourself, do you take time to –

  • Relax?
  • Eat nutritionally and regularly?
  • Sleep?
  • Exercise?
  • Connect with your partner?
  • Enjoy your children?
  • Stay connected with friends?
  • Continue to learn?
  • Consider the spiritual side of life?
  • Plan for the future?

All of the above activities help you to stay in balance. For example, meditation, contemplation, and prayer help you to relax and connect with yourself and the world you live in. Taking care of your body with nutritious food, sleep, and exercise gives you energy to invest in what’s important. Time with good people results in attention, affection, and love. Personal time gives space for play and doing nothing if you want to. Planning for the future gives your life direction and learning new things enriches your life.

It’s important for you and your partner to think through how to balance out time. Failure to plan can result in things like excessive spending and an excessive amount of time devoted to work. It can also result in time being devoted to things like fun computer activities that isolate you from family and friends. The result is that you feel disconnected with both yourself and others.

Think about how you’re spending your daily allowance of twenty-four hours? Talk it over with your partner. Be sure your time is wisely invested. Time does matter.

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You Need To Be Appreciated!

42109184_s Remember: people move toward pleasure; away from pain.

Sometimes I go about my life and forget that I really need appreciation my wife. I need appreciation to keep her as a friend, partner, and lover. I need to remember and offer what she needs from me. By doing this, I can create good memories within her.

You can create great memories for your partner by knowing and doing what your partner needs. Know what gives your partner the feeling of being loved and tended to. If you do this, your partner can receive what he/she really needs from you; you’ll receive the satisfaction that comes from doing something truly worthwhile. Contribute freely with no thought of return; otherwise it really doesn’t count as an act of love.

Knowing what your partner needs and wants and doing those things is what will draw your partner to you. Your partner will want to spend more time with you as a result of good memories from the past. Kind, loving acts are the glue. By themselves, appearance and sex aren’t sufficient to keep someone close to you.

Here are some more things to remember  –

1. Combine truth with kindness. “A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

2. Make your word be your bond. Allow your partner to count on you.

3. Let your words be kind, clear, direct, and brief especially when voicing displeasure. It will help your partner understand what you’re trying to communicate.

4. Tolerate the opinions of your partner. You could be wrong.

5. Graciously concede when you’re wrong. DO NOT attempt to explain yourself.

6. Give up resentment and revenge. They only lead to depression, anxiety, and physical illness.

7. Make amends to your partner when you harm him/her. Be clear that you are remorseful about the harm you’ve caused.

8. Be compassionate. Feel the pain of your partner and respond. Contribute to his/her welfare. Give more than you take.

9. DO NOT be a dream killer. Allow your partner to express his/her dreams without critiquing them.

10. Evaluate your current relationship. Lower your expectations when they’re too high.

Appreciation is crucial. Be aware of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Contribute to your partner so that you’ve done something truly worthwhile for another person.

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What Do You Appreciate?

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“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” Seneca

Not long ago, while I was watching a video on the universe, I realized how incredible it was to be on this small planet we call earth; how incredible to be floating through space and to realize that I was floating through the immensity of a galaxy. What an opportunity it is to just experience life and to be aware of. To appreciate what I have daily. Appreciation makes me feel alive.

Do you know that it’s really impossible to be happy without being grateful for what you already have? It’s impossible to be grateful and appreciative of your partner without recognizing the contribution your partner is making. There is no true appreciation without this. And, without appreciation the relationship will scour as you’ll focus on your partners shortcomings. Appreciation can make you feel alive, happy, and content.

The road to satisfaction is paved with appreciation of what your partner contributes, an acknowledgement of the shortcomings in yourself that you need to work on, and doing those things that your partner appreciates.
Appreciation needs to be programmed in. It’s worth it – everyone feels better. I personally feel much more alive, happy and content when I am aware of the good in this world and in others. How about you?

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living, If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.” Tecumseh

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Forty-eight Years of Commitment – And Still Going

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9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm [alone]? 12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4 ASV, The Bible

Commitments are a big deal. I was concerned about commitment right before I married my wife. I really wanted to be with my fiancee. Still a lifelong commitment is a daunting one.

My fiancee and I belonged to the same Christian denomination. Neither of us had close relatives who were divorced. The members of our churches seemed to stay together for life. They all kept their marriage vows – together for better or worse; no other sexual partners; till death do you part. And, they seemed to be okay with their arrangement. That was encouraging.
Our vows were spoken in front of relatives, friends, and church members. We were part of their group; they expected us to keep our vows to each other and to God.

In June, we’ll celebrate 48 years of marriage. We kept our commitment to God and to each other. We stayed with our denomination. We’re still active members of our church. I’m grateful we’ve worked out our differences and accepted each other’s imperfections. We’ve benefited from our arrangement. We have –

1. An agreed upon moral/ethical code. Our moral and ethical code is a time honored one prescribed by our religious group. We have both agreed to abide by it. As a result, we didn’t have to create something new.

2. Emotional security. I don’t have to compete with other men; she doesn’t have to compete with other women. We’re not looking for somebody better.

3. Affection and sex. They’re readily available. We don’t have to hunt for a lover.

4. No worries about sexually transmitted diseases. It’s a closed sexual system.

5. Physical security. Someone’s there if you’re sick, disabled, or just need help with the computer.

6. Good memories. A lifetime of photo’s and memories of being together and being with our children.

7. Secure children. Our children, and grandchildren, are wanted and have security. They don’t have to worry about their family dissolving and their home disappearing. It’s not mom’s place or dad’s place? It’s mom and dad’s place.

8. Energy to put into the community. Security issues, companionship issues, and “where do I belong issues” are resolved. Energy can be directed other places.

9. The support of our church. Our government is less likely to need to take care of us because we have the support of each other and our church.

10. A place to socialize and contribute. The same religion has united us and given us a place, our church community, to socialize and contribute.

I’m glad that I made commitments to my wife, God, and my religious community. My wife and I have benefited and so have our children and the community. Making a clear commitment and keeping the commitment is necessary for the well-being of any venture. Why should building a home and a family be any different? It’s something to think about.

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My Contribution to a Happy Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.
Mother Teresa

I love to come home to the warmth and laughter there. I want to do what I need to do to maintain a happy, healthy, home. A garden needs water, fertilizer, and someone to remove the weeds. The atmosphere of a home also needs tending to. Here’s what I work at –

1. Sound ethics and morality. I work at following the teachings of my Christian church, the professional ethics of the National Associations of Social workers, and the regulations of the Social Work Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Noble ethics and morality are life giving to everyone.

2. Control issues. I want to remember that I only have control over my attitude. That’s about it. I can’t control others or the world I live it. I make my decisions and so do others. It’s good to remember that.

3. Self-control. Only my self-control will allow me to live out noble ethical and moral ideals. Only my self-control will provide the opportunity for others to live with me safely. I want people to be safe with me and to trust me.

4. Healthy rules. I can avoid chaos with a few rules that I kindly and consistently enforce. I learned this when my wife and I trained my dog. I also learned that rewards help my dog to live by my rules. Rules and rewards are something to consider.

5. Growing up. I want to be a more mature, loving, compassionate person. My support for this comes from my family, church, prayer, and my professional life. I’ve learned that I need the wisdom and support of others.

6. Appreciation. I work to verbalize and demonstrate my appreciation. I know that lack of appreciation can be discouraging.

7. Freedom. I want to be free of obsessive-compulsiveness behavior, complaining and resentment. I want to relax and enjoy my life as it is. War, corruption, illness, poverty, abuse, and erupting volcano’s aren’t new. I want to help people as I can and then shift my attention to what is beautiful, good, and true. Is this uncaring? I don’t think so.

8. Shared resources. I want to share my money, skills, and time. It feels good to do something significant for someone else. Altruism is a good thing. I want to help people realize their dreams.

9. Celebration. It’s a good thing to celebrate success. I want to celebrate the successes of others without envy and jealousy.

10. Excellence. I can choose to work for excellence and humbly accept that perfection is impossible. I don’t want to expect perfection of myself and others. It’s discouraging and a waste of good time.

Our homes and gardens take work but they’re worth it. What can you work on to develop and keep warm loving relationships in your home?

Think About Coming Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home. Mother Teresa

I will forever associate home with my wife’s parents and their spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. It was the epitome of a warm and loving home. Good company, good humor, and delectable food. It was a place where we could relax. They’re gone but their descendants still take gracious interest in each other and support each other. My wife and I have worked to provide the same kind of atmosphere in our home.

So what are the characteristic of a home that will allow us to thrive? Here are some that I think are important –

Safety. I can relax here because I’m physically and emotionally safe. I am safe to be around.

Intimacy. I belong here. I’m listened to; I have influence. My thoughts and feelings matter. I listen to and give my partner and children influence. I can be emotionally close to them and them to me.

Communication. I can hear and be heard with a spirit of honesty, kindness and generosity. I can hear and be heard without fear of ridicule.

Fruitfulness. I can develop my abilities and interests; I can experiment, fail, and learn. I support my partner and children as they develop their interests and abilities.

Ecstasy/joy. My family and I can find joy in people, pets, nature, projects, and privacy.

Neighborliness. My family and I honor the needs of others in the community and we accept the support of others.

I believe the above characteristics can help me have a home like my in-laws. A home that exudes a spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. That’s very important to me.

Think about these characteristics; talk about them with others. Perhaps you could send the post to a friend and see what he/she thinks. A good home is worth working for.

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