Tag: truth

There’s No Changing History

I’m not a history buff. I won’t even claim to like studying historical events. But when I’m traveling, I do appreciate absorbing historical sites and monuments.

For me, it has nothing to do with the past. Seeing a landmark placed in a specific spot to cement a significant event touches the part of me that realizes time is limited. Life is a river rushing me ever toward the sea of eternity.

But these monuments are like a boulder in the river.

A person could rest on them. A person could take a break from paddling against contrary currents. The boulder offers a solid place in the maelstrom.

Of course, I’ve been rafting on the Deschutes River in Maupin, Oregon. A boulder could capsize your raft. It could dump everyone you love into the foaming mess of whitewater, eager to devour you…or at least scrape you along the sharp and unforgiving stones of the riverbed.

Actual photo of my family rafting the Deschutes.

Recently, my husband and I traveled to Florida for a couples’ retreat. The retreat was held at the Renaissance International World Golf in St. Augustine.

After my first ever lunch of Cuban food, we strolled through the historical fort. There was an old Catholic rectory. The governor’s house had been converted to a museum.

Crowds teemed through the unique shop area. Sun beat down from an autumn sky unlike those in Oregon. A fickle breeze lifted clothes that clung to every inch of perspiring skin.

In a park near the marina where traffic backed up because a draw bridge was raised, there was an old depot platform. Several statues and monoliths paid homage to people and events of the past. There was even an old pillar remaining from the Spanish capital that had once occupied this oldest of American cities.

The Monument to Men

One of the monolithic stones, a quite simple piece of plain rock, had been raised to honor those from the city of St. Augustine who gave their lives protecting it during what southerners refer to as The War of Northern Aggression. (That’s the Civil War for those of us who aren’t northerners, but have been blessed to be raised near the end of the Oregon Trail in God’s Country.) *sticks out her tongue at a particular cousin who will be reading this*

Where I live, there are monuments like this to veterans of Vietnam, Korea, World War I and World War II. I believe there’s even a little something for veterans of Desert Storm.

The point of this monument is to memorialize soldiers who fought for their homes. Some of the monuments honor the survivors. The ones that are most poignant to me are the memorials of those who died for the cause.

What person should not be honored for giving their life for a cause?

The Inscription

I don’t recall the exact words. But on a pole to one side of this simple memorial a metal sign had been mounted.
It claimed that there had been some legislation requiring the removal of all landmarks in honor of Confederates in the Civil War. It went on to state that residents petitioned to keep this simple monolith intact and were granted their petition.

Thank you, petitioners. This is what U.S. democracy is supposed to look like.

Better yet, why pass ridiculous laws that do nothing?

I can imagine the very men honored by this monument rolling over in their graves.

“People say we were fighting to keep slaves,” one would say. “I was fighting for freedom.”

“Freedom from a government that wanted to minimize our personal rights,” another says.

Because this war wasn’t fought over a single issue. The largest percentage of men who died had probably never owned a slave, nor would have chose to if they could.

The Facts

History happened. It’s over. There’s no point in trying to change it.

What is the reason a law might give for tearing down a simple monolithic column in a small park in St. Augustine, Florida? Is there any reason that would be acceptable?

We all know the slogan, “Never forget.” It was painted everywhere from social media to billboards in September. But it had been used decades before for Normandy Beach and Pearl Harbor.

This simple monument reminds us that men died for a cause. Let’s not judge the cause. We weren’t there, and we couldn’t possibly know what what in the hearts as they marched away from their homes and families…never to return.

You and I can attest that politicians say a ton of stuff we don’t agree with. Their words get recorded, and in another fifty years when the next generation reads them, are they going to judge you and I by those words?

Look at the word: history. His story. I write stories for a living, and they are different from the stories other authors of a similar age and gender write. Because they are my stories.

That plain monument asks us to pause for a moment and remember a story: one that cost men in St. Augustine to sacrifice all. Each of them had a personal story, and sadly, those are probably lost.

But the price they paid? It should be remembered. And honored.

Do you like history? What is a historical place you’ve been that impacted you?

5 Things I’ve Learned About Change

One quarter of 2018 is past. It’s supposed to be a year of metamorphosis around here, but what has really changed? If nothing else, I’ve learned a few things about the process of making changes.

In January, I posted my word for the year. I made a lovely graphic.

And then a few weeks later, I adopted a new branding design. Which included a lovely new logo.

Things were off to a metamorphic start. Oh yes.

I penned blogs about what was changing: career,website and me. And maybe a few people even read them.

But when change happens to someone else, it doesn’t affect us. I mean, really. Other people move or find a new job or send a kid to college. We might feel for them (especially if we’ve experienced these changes before), but there’s no metamorphosis in our life when that happens.

1. Change Takes Purpose

Let me explain this. Things change in our lives without our PERMISSION. That’s a circumstance.

In order for us to truly “become something better” there has be be purposeful change.

For example, we get laid off. That was a job we loved and felt called to do. Now we hit the streets to find a new job. After a few dozen applications and some not-so-fruitful interviews, we are offered a new position and we accept it.

However, the new job might end up being only a circumstance. If we don’t embrace this new place and employ our gifts toward this different mission, we won’t change.

WE won’t change.

Just because circumstances change, it doesn’t follow that we will change.

So when life throws you a new circumstance, be a good Marine. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. And most of all, set your mind to making the most of it so you become a better person.

2. Some Change is Excruciating

I have no idea what the caterpillar feels inside a cocoon. I’ve always imagined the little guy spun his secure bed, fell asleep and woke up as a butterfly.

We aren’t caterpillars. If we sleep through a change, nothing will happen.

My experience this past year is that the longer I’ve been in one place, the more difficult it is to change. More than that, it’s often an unpleasant experience.

Think of it this way, your car is stuck in the mud. You rev the motor. Wheels spin. You sink further into the mud. The more you struggle to get out of the rut, the deeper you get into it.

So it is with changing something that has been static for many, many years.

In order to pull ourselves out of the rut, there’s going to be external force needed. And then there will be internal struggles to accept that application of brutality.

Metamorphosis in the human arena is agonizing.

3. Change Can Be Small

We want big and flashy. This is most often true in areas where we’re making physical changes.

We start a diet and exercise plan. Three days later, our muscles scream and our stomach rumbles. We step on the scale and see:

We’ve lost one pound

One pound?!? For all this misery? Why am I doing this again?

Because big changes start small. Think of the avalanche. It can start with a single pebble sliding down the slope. It hits a larger boulder which rumbles. Dirt loosens around it. When it goes, it takes trees and more rocks with it, leaving behind a corridor of destruction.

The thing about a small change might not even be that it becomes bigger. Often it remains a small, simple thing: filling out a gratitude journal every evening before falling asleep.

But that ONE LITTLE THING bleeds into every area of life. It might begin as, “I have to pay attention to what I’m grateful for so I have something to write in the journal.” Soon enough it becomes a habit to give thanks for all the little things.

The rain stopped when I walked out to get the mail. The cat didn’t run away when I needed to load him into the carrier (and I’m not wearing scratch marks in the aftermath).

The truth is:

4. Real Change is S-L-O-W

Weight loss is another one of those things we want to happen now. Nope, actually, yesterday.

How long did it take me to pack on that extra fifteen pounds? A year? Two years? And yet I think I should be able to drop it in a couple months.

What I’ve discovered is that when I try to be diligent about eating a low calorie diet and exercise every day until my muscles STOP aching, I get burned out. My limit for persevering in both of these things is about one month.

One month? Can I even lose FIVE pounds in that time?

But when I think about it like that, it discourages me. So instead, I look at things as progressive. My sister the Beachbody coach has lots of motivational memes, and they make me feel like a failure if I let them.

Instead, I pull out my calendar and see all the times I know it will be difficult to stick to low calorie eating. I make sure I can up the intensity of my workouts during that time, but I don’t plan to follow the restrictive eating plan.

Why set myself up for failure? Instead, I shoot for MAINTAINING the strides I’ve already made.

After the week of vacation, I return to another 21-day focused eating and exercise plan. At the end, I give myself a week or a weekend to relax in the kitchen.

No, I don’t eat everything in sight. Usually, I’ll reward myself with pizza (and I don’t eat the whole thing) or baked goods (that I give away or share so I don’t eat them all). Then my head is in the right spot to do another 21 to 30-day focused weight loss plan.

It could take me six months or ten months to lose those fifteen pounds, but that’s still LESS time than it took to gain them.

5. Change isn’t always Better

Sadly, change isn’t always the best course of action. It’s difficult to admit this in a post extolling the virtues of metamorphosis.

I’m not talking about YOU attempting to improve something and it falls apart. That’s failure. And failing is the key to success.

Sometimes we were OKAY in an area of life we decided needed to change. Maybe we’ve decided to double the number of books we read in a year. Reading is great, right?

But if we forfeit family time, sleep and preparing nutritious meals (because we’re reading!) then we’ve missed the point of making a change.

Sometimes, we are healthy even if we aren’t a size six anymore. This doesn’t mean we should indulge in a daily dose of ice cream or cookies. Let’s not become UNHEALTHY. But we don’t have to strictly count every calorie. If we miss a workout, there’s no need for self-flagellation.

If reading self-help books makes me adopt a negative self-image, this isn’t a change for the better. We must weigh the change from every angle.

The world is filled with excellent things that I’ve never tried. And if I tried them they could hurt me or deter me from the best course for my life.

So it’s important to remember that a change doesn’t have to be permanent. If you make a change and discover it’s actually detrimental to your life purpose or mental or emotional health, you can change back. Or better yet, re-evaluate WHY you wanted to change that and see if there’s another way to achieve the end result you desire.

What have you learned about change? Have you experienced any of these five lessons about change first-hand?

Say Goodbye to Fear next Year

I think all of us have a problem with wanting to control things. (Or is it really just me?) Do you know the root of that desire/need/impulse? Fear

Fear.

Let’s face it, fear directs too many of our decisions.

What if there was a way to tame the fear lion? Better yet, what if you could keep him in a cage far away from you?

isaiah41-10

The truth is we will face situations and problems that make us uncertain. We don’t have to let those moments morph into anxiety or fear.

And we need to let go of the illusion of control. Because it just isn’t real.

From one of my spiritual mentor’s recent blogs:

When I went looking for back up for this strategy in Scripture I was disappointed. I discovered, much to my dismay, that the only type of control we are allotted is my least favorite kind: self-control. The universe is not on our list. Nor our relatives. Not the neighbors or the door-slamming teenager or the decorating committee. None of them.

So when anxiety stalks us, we can pause and ponder, “What am I afraid of right now?” Once we name it we can ask, “What can I actually control in this situation?”

I adore Holley Gerth. If you want to read the rest of her post, click here.

Let’s face it, you can’t control 98 percent of what comes your way in life. You know what you can control? Your reaction or response to any negative or difficult situation.

No, you can’t stop yourself from feeling the pounding pulse, dry mouth or icy block in the stomach. Those physical responses are messengers. They are warning you that something dangerous is ahead.

The biggest danger of all is letting the fear put you on the sideline.

Let’s make a pact to corral the lion of fear in the new year.

We start by making one simple choice to stand our ground today. I’ve got someone bigger than the lion standing beside me. What about you?

The Truth about Death and Dying

Image courtesy of images4.wikia
Image courtesy of images4.wikia

Dying has been glorified in recent years. Meanwhile, Death remains an insidious villain. Recent experience leads me to believe these two attitudes have no basis in reality.

Hear me out.

It’s not my intent to start an argument or step on anyone’s toes. Death and dying are personal avenues for every living soul on planet earth. My thoughts on these concepts will hardly prevent me from treading the dying path toward death.

If only it could be so easy.

Glorification of Dying

Movies glorify dying. Look at the soldier throwing himself on a grenade. How about the stranger tossing a child from in front of a speeding car at the cost of his own mortality?

Gaming forums are the worst offenders in this area. Actual snippets overheard during an online gaming session:

  • “Would you stop dying? You’re killing our team score.”
  • “I’m on my last life so try and keep me from dying, will you?”
  • “What do you mean? I only died three times!”

In isolation, these snippets would be cause to call in a grief counselor for an intervention. They are commonplace in a household where first person shooter games are cool and hopping onto Xbox Live to kick some alien booty with friends is a favorite pastime.

“Dying grace” is a phrase I used myself – before I had to watch my mother die. Dying in a bed of affliction in never graceful. If the phrase is speaking of an attitude toward death, it might make sense. If it’s a rephrasing in regard to God’s grace for daily living, I might be able to swallow it.

Dying is ugly. Whether there is blood and gore or just a silent slipping away, it isn’t glorious.

Death: Hero or Villain?

I recently read a novel that depicted Death as just another guy doing his job: collecting souls and taking them to the afterlife. How does that make him a villain?

Death is a gateway. It marks the end of this thing we call life. We love life; therefore, we hate death.

The actual moment of death happens in an eye’s blink. Dying provides time for that last monologue (courtesy of Shakespeare). Death silences those lips. Dying is the thing that prolongs suffering. Death is a doorway to relief.

In this sense, death can be a hero. If death is a villain to be avoided at all costs, it’s wrong to make dying appear to be something marvelous and desirable when its end is death.

My logic could be faulty, but here’s the bottom line. We glorify dying when it is done in a certain manner: sacrificially or stoically. In the same breath, we vilify death as a lecherous beast that sucks life away. It’s backwards. We should despise dying for diverting us from the pathway called living and embrace death as the gateway into the next life.

Crazy? Maybe if you have no faith to mark the gate of death for what it is: the elevator to eternal life.

Regardless, dying is ugly. There is blood, pain, sickness, and heartache. Dying involves a loss of vitality, a surrender of dignity, and the murder of hopes and dreams. My prayer: to skip dying and just screech, tires spinning all the way, from life into death.

What truth can you share about death and dying? How does your perspective differ from mine?