The Power of Self Belief

I love this blog. It not only contains some excellent content; it also shows how wisdom comes in all ages. I appreciate the wisdom of this 16-year-old. I invite you to read her insight.

Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “believe you can and you’re halfway there”.

Self confidence is all about trusting our abilities and believing that we can do what we set our minds to. I’d say I am quite an ambitious person and am grateful for all my achievements – big or small. However, self-belief is also about thinking that our ideas, feelings, and opinions have worth. Here, I find that I often lack belief in my intelligence and always seem to worry about receiving validation and encouragement from other people.

A couple of days ago at school, in English class, we were talking about current global issues. And my teacher said how veganism is the next “global issue” and how it is completely pointless and stupid. This man had zero respect for people like me who are trying to make a lifestyle change – even though I’m not entirely vegan, I hold…

View original post 208 more words

You never know

I’m going to try not to ramble, but I can’t promise that I won’t. We just got some devastating news: a young friend of ours committed suicide. We have no details at this point. I was hesitant to write anything so soon; however, I have these feelings that are bouncing around in my soul and I must get them out.

I won’t name any names here, because I want to respect the privacy of our friend’s family. For those of you who read my musings, you can tell that I’m a person of faith. I don’t write with too much of an evangelical bent, and I do that intentionally. I am however an active member in my church and the natural extension (through service) from those four walls that define my faith community. Our friend was a member of that community, too.

I can hear the questions already from many. I’m asking them myself: Why would he do this? He had it all together. He was a preacher; he was well educated; he had a well-paying professional job; he had a network of friends that obviously loved him; he was a person who served his community; he had a lovely family, nuclear and extended. Yes. He had it altogether, but did he? Something was amiss somewhere. I can’t help but wonder if someone saw something but was too afraid to approach our beloved friend.

I’m trying my best to not appear to be selfish. When someone dies from some reason other than suicide, we naturally think about ourselves and how much we’re going to miss them. In this case, it’s important to know, if possible, what led our friend to commit such an irreversible act. It’s important to be available to the lovely wife and children who have been left behind. They will have to deal with this tragedy of death, not by natural causes, not by accident, but by the hands of their loved one. This is the first time I’ve had someone in my network commit suicide; something tells me that this will be a unique grieving experience for our friend’s family.

Please pardon me; however, I redundantly proclaim that I’m trying my best to not be selfish. It’s hard for me to do so. This has been a rough end of the year (from October until now). I’ve lost several people who meant a lot to me. I often wonder why this happens during this time of year, when we want to mark the times with festivities, not visits by the grim reaper.

I can’t help but wonder if our friend felt the love that, by my observation, that many had for him. Our faith community and the community at-large has lost a lovely person. One can’t help but wonder what will go undone, as the result of our friend’s passing.

And so, I’ve taken several minutes to jot down a few thoughts about our friend. I don’t feel any better. I have more thoughts; however, I think I’ll leave it here.

You never know, and you never will by looking at the outside only.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

                  It’s been a bad year

It’s November 21, the year of our Lord, 2021. I’m reviewing the year and it’s been a bad one. For a while, the covid-19 pandemic seemed to have lessened its grip. I saw a bright light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of the vaccines. With my underlying health conditions, I was one of the first to get the shot. I’ve also had the booster. There are yet hot spots around the globe, where surges in new infections are having their way. I can’t help but wonder if some of this increase could’ve been prevented if people would just take the shot. A lot of the infections are of people who’ve not been vaccinated. As much as I hate to admit it, I find it difficult to feel compassion for those who have not had the shot then find themselves suffering from some of the worst symptoms, in a hospital ICU ward. I’ve seen many news reports of interviews from patients who didn’t get the shot, extolling the importance of getting vaccinated. These folks usually make some comment to the effect that if they had known what they know now, they would’ve gotten the shot.

Do you buy groceries and gasoline (petrel to my friends east of the pond)? I buy them both, and I’m wondering when the prices of these essentials will level off. Inflation is the culprit. We need these items, so we’re so we suck it up and make these necessary purchases.

Politicians are just as crazy as ever. They find the most mundane of things to politicize. Who would’ve thought a small piece of cloth that doesn’t even move the numbers on a scale, would be one of the most controversial items of the year? A face mask is just that, a face mask. Most of us wear it without too much difficulty. The medical experts have told us that wearing a face mask is an effectual method for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Some people just don’t want anyone telling them what to do; they don’t seem to want to be bothered by sound facts surrounding the benefits of wearing a mask. And so, some politicians react to that sentiment and run to the public square to speak loudly in support of the folks who can vote them out of office.

We continue to see lady justice meting out her worst by peeking through the so-called blindfold she wears and shaving off a few ounces on one side of her scale. The Rittenhouse verdict is a perfect example of that. How can a jury not find anyone innocent of murder, manslaughter, or something unlawful when they’ve crossed state lines, armed illegally with a weapon, shot, and killed a couple of folks and claim they were defending themselves?

Politics. I think I ‘ve mentioned enough about that already. Let’s just say, things would be a whole lot better for all of us if politicians would reason together and come to the wise conclusion that they are in office to serve, not be served.

Wait a minute, this year hasn’t been any worse than most. What’s that old saying about this too shall pass? Despite it all, I’m still blessed. If you’re reading this and you’re honest with yourself, so are you.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

            Am I too dependent?

I started my morning early today, as I normally do. I was out of bed at 5:00 this morning to take my bicycle ride. This is an important start to my day that I’ve been doing for over twenty years. It was a bit cool, 45 degrees Fahrenheit but that’s not too cool to stop me. I simply bundled up in clothing that’s good at blocking the effects of the wind beating against me. My fingers usually suffer the most when the temperature is below 50. After my one-hour ride, I came back to the house where Ari, my faithful Shi-Tzu was waiting for me to let her outside to do her business and to serve her breakfast. After that bit of business, I went back outside to the back deck to finish my cooldown with a few calisthenics and a little weightlifting. I won’t share any more of the boring details of my morning constitutional. I ended with entering my office.

As I entered my office, I picked up my iPad, which is just to the right charging up, waiting for me to click on the icon to read my local newspaper. Well, I clicked the icon and the only thing to happen was the annoying little circle. You know the circle that tells you the device is working its little heart out to connect to the site you want. The circle never stopped. I picked up my iPhone, thinking I could read my newspaper there. The same little circle was there also. I turned on my laptop and there was no WI-FI symbol in the ribbon at the bottom of the screen. After tinkering in that space for a while, I checked my cable connections to the modem, still nothing.

To say the least, I was sufficiently frustrated at this point. I had no connection to the outside world. I had no access to the plethora of useful and useless information that I fuel myself with to prepare me for withstanding the slings and arrows that are bound to come my way each day. I tried to sign on to the internet at reasonable intervals of time for the next two hours with no success.

After three hours and more coffee than I normally consume, I decided to call my internet service provider (ISP). I rarely call any organization that provides services to my home. I have little love for the recorded voices that efficiently and coldly tell me to enter this or that number. After experiencing disconnection with the outside world for three hours, you would think a warm-blooded human being would be the least my ISP could offer. The efficient recorded voice identified my house address and asked me why I was calling, offering several options from which I could choose. I chose technical support. The voice, in quick response, informed me that there was maintenance work being done in my service area and that I wouldn’t have access to the internet until 4:00 pm. Although efficient, the recorded voice offered no sympathy, no apology for my plight.

Lack of access to the internet, forced me to write this blog and to notice a couple of books I picked up recently while browsing at a local bookstore. Reading seemed like a decent pastime since I couldn’t post this blog until the internet was up and running.

Am I too dependent (on the internet)? I ask you to think before answering that question.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

One layer of the onion is all gone

Imagine each generation of your family represented by layers of an onion. I know you don’t have a clue of where I’m going with this. Please humor me for a short while I promise you, I’ll make my point, at least I hope to. For months now, I’ve been thinking about writing a blog that metaphorically presents the extended family as an onion, with each generation that still exists as layer of the onion.

I got news this morning that has caused my heart to be heavy. My mother’s baby sister, one of a set of twins, died peacefully in her sleep last night. She was the last in her generation who was born to the union of my maternal grandparents, grandpa and Sweet. If you are a follower of my blog, you may know who grandpa and Sweet are. I wrote about them in a series I did awhile back titled “From what I can remember.”

The last family reunion we had, where representation of all the generations that stemmed from grandpa and Sweet, was in 2019. The total number of generations represented at that wonderful gathering was five. I found myself sitting amongst it all, watching young ones running about my first cousin’s nice property, not knowing who all these kids were. I do remember that family gathering gave me an opportunity to become acquainted with these relatives. I was looking forward to seeing them at the next reunion in 2020, but you know what happened. Covid-19 put a hold on that.

Family reunion 2019. My aunt is the distinguished one to the left, white hair in blue and white top.

Chris and I were preparing to sit down and watch our churches Sunday morning service on YouTube this morning. We’re still staying at home because of covid-19. Our church has become quite skilled at producing and presenting services virtually. Although it is having services where members of the congregation are meeting in person, some of us are still hesitant about returning to the brick-and-mortar location for now. My phone rang. The display indicated that it was my sister. I hesitated to answer the call because I know my sister wouldn’t be calling me at this time on a Sunday morning unless something was wrong. Something in fact was wrong. My aunt, my mother’s baby sister had made her exit to be with her Lord, whom she loves dearly.

News of a loved one dying is difficult to accept, especially in the case of my mother’s sister. I just had a telephone conversation with her two days ago. She had been calling over the last year or so to check up on me. It’s funny how she would begin each conversation with, “I thought I needed to check on the old folks.” I never argued that point with her, since was only sixteen years older than I. We had an exceptionally lengthy conversation, talking about topics that harkened back to when I was a child to today. She sounded very vibrant and mentally sharp as always. She was anxious to attend another family reunion as soon as we could have one without fear of covid-19. I remember getting off the call and thinking how great it will be to see my aunt again.

The next layer in the onion is my generation. I’m seventy-one. I have a cousin who’s a few months older than I. We are the oldest members of this layer. From my last inventory, there are many members to our layer of the onion. I do pray that this layer will be in place for a long, enjoyable time to come.

We need a family reunion. We need the onion to be all in one place at one time. God, please hear my prayer and thank you for this onion.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

 Will it be there when I need it?

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot lately about problems with supply chains, affecting many goods we all use and take for granted that they will always be there. Whenever I pass an automobile dealership, I notice the paltry amount of inventory of new automobiles on the lot. Just the other day a major producer of household cleaning products announced that they were planning to increase the price of their products. Fast food restaurants are having difficulty hiring and retaining staff. We’re all getting a quick lesson in the basics of economics: supply, and demand.

I just came from my friendly Walmart Super Center to do the weekly grocery shopping. I couldn’t help but think about how all the customers, myself included, were unconsciously meandering amongst the aisles to select all the items on our list. Weekly visits have programmed us to go straight to where each item is for which we’re looking; not very much search effort required on any of our part. While doing this, I also couldn’t help but think about how things were a year and a half ago when paper products were in short supply. Demand was high, catching producers off guard. Do you remember images of selfish, greedy hoarders, who raided stores and loaded up their vehicles with paper products back during the first half of 2000? They unquestionably contributed to the difficulty you and I had finding paper towels and toilet paper on the shelves.

We’re not in a world war, militarily speaking; however, the battle with the microscopic enemy, coronavirus-19 is still with us. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, as governments and scientists are making heroic efforts at getting the battle under control. But the damage to our economy and the infrastructure that moves it along has been done by the coronavirus. It makes you wonder about the strength, or fragility of systems in place to feed, cloth, heat, water us all. It also makes you wonder what would happen if everything collapsed suddenly. We’ve all become so dependent on systems operated by people we don’t know to produce, ship to market, and sell us what we need, so we can stock our refrigerators, pantries, and the like. Unlike our ancestors, we haven’t the capability to produce for ourselves the food stuffs and dry goods we need to maintain body and mind.

Will it be there when I need it? I certainly hope so. If it’s generic, that’s okay.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

                                                                               Hiccups

I was sitting with my dog recently. We were just chilling, something at which we’re both good. The silence and communion were peaceful and then, without warning, she started hiccupping. Although the interruption in our peace experience was minor, it demonstrated how something as common as a hiccup can offer a metaphor for some of life’s deeper happenings.

I think most of us, as we age, comprehend the concept of living in the moment. If some of us don’t, we haven’t taken advantage of the myriad lessons life offers free of tuition. We should also understand that even with the most developed skills of being able to live for right now, right now can be interrupted. Except for my habit of saving for the future, I think I have been a person who tries his best to live in the moment. Of course, the practice of living in the moment can prove to be fluid.

A moment can be any number of minutes, hours, or days. It all depends on what you’re doing and whether you’re at your best physically and mentally in pursuit of it. For example, you’ve decided to go back to school and study for a PhD. Chris has decided to do that. She hasn’t been in school for over thirty-five years, when she was studying for her master’s. She’s going to be working hard at each moment to be the best student she can be. Each moment will work like a piece of glass inserted on a canvas to make a beautiful mosaic.

As we use our best skill, knowledge, and ability to be the best that we can with each God-given moment, hiccups can occur. We might experience a health scare. Some financial calamities might wipeout most of our cash reserves, making it necessary to start over again. Some hiccups are short in length and others may seem to take up permanent residence. Oftentimes, the long-term ones give us an opportunity to meet challenges we never imagined. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma twenty-one years ago. It  has been a significant life-altering experience. What I considered a hiccup at the time, has stayed around for a long time. My life wouldn’t be what it is today if that hiccup; that change in my health profile hadn’t happened.

I leave you with this: as you’re coasting along life’s highway, enjoying the journey, don’t be surprised when a hiccup comes. Don’t deny the presence of the hiccup. If you haven’t experienced a hiccup yet, just keep living. I’ve found that my faith in God helps me deal with the effects of the hiccups of life.  Denial doesn’t work.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Others helped you get here

I think it’s a maturity thing (spiritual to a large degree) that causes many to offer more prayers of gratitude after sixty-five. No. I haven’t done any studies or referenced any research that supports this. However, anecdotal evidence seems to back it up. I have many connections to people who suffer from a variety of chronic ailments; ailments that have been around for more than three months, which make life a daily challenge. Testimonies from lots of older folks, with health issues, demonstrate that they are grateful for getting out of bed each day.

I’ve written a considerable amount about my own chronic health condition, and I know each day alive is evidence against all odds the world might take against me. Quiet prayers and meditative moments of thanks are part of my daily routine. Lately, I’ve been giving thought to people God has placed in my path throughout my life. There’s a strange irony that occurs whenever I think about these folks; I remember them. If you knew how bad my memory is, you would understand why I call this strange. I’m one of those people who runs into someone in the airport I haven’t seen for quite some time, they greet me and confidently pronounce my name. I, on the other hand, only remember their face; however, I do a fairly good job of making them feel good, at least I think so. There are people who have been with me at certain legs of my life’s journey, and they have uploaded something of extraordinary value to may hard drive.

My first-grade teacher is a person I’ve not seen for well over sixty-five years. She’s been gone from this plain of existence for a long time, but I still remember Ms. A. I remember the trauma of being left at that place, on the first day of school, and how Ms. A helped me survive. I remember my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. B, and several teachers at Wynne, Arkansas’ Childress Elementary and Childress High School. This little separately operated and far from equal facility showed me clearly how dedication to a cause, with few resources can have tremendous impact on the community. I remember Mr. S, my high school counselor, who convinced me that I should go to college.

Throughout my life there have been countless relatives, college/graduate school professors, mentors and healthcare providers who have served me well. Some of these folks probably had no idea of the indelible impression they made on my life. I wonder what sort of person I would be today if the mixture of individuals I’ve had relationships with, short and long-term had of been different.

The longer we live, the greater our chances of being blessed and to bless others. You may think your life has little influence on others, but keep living, and one day someone will tell you of a time that you provided invaluable help to them. It will be a story about a time that you’ve probably forgotten; however, the bearer of the story will remember the encounter in the freshest of details. I believe this is the way God wants things to work between us. It may not seem as though I need you, but I do.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

 We all want to connect, right?

There are over seven billion of us on the planet. Depending on the culture in which each of us operates, we rise at some point each day to begin our daily activities. Whether we realize it or not, each of us starts our day with the need to connect to someone in some way or another. If we’re a part of a family unit, the connecting starts early. Each member of the family probably has responsibility to contribute to the mechanics of keeping the family and the abode in which it resides operating smoothly. We need each person to do their part. In addition to these duties, we participate in some form of social activities before each of us leaves the house or stays home to begin the day’s activities. Consciously or unconsciously, we feel grounded when we sense a connection to our family. Being an island of existence isn’t in our nature.

Have you ever thought about just how much we’re connected to each other outside of our homes? I’m tapping away at this laptop keyboard, trying my darndest to pen something worth someone’s time to read; to think about and to find some morsel of truth which applies to their existence. I wouldn’t be able to connect these alphabets, forming sentences for you to read without the work of numerous others who have performed various tasks; tasks that have resulted in this laptop setting on my desk. The connections of many have blessed me with a device which I’m using to write this blog. When I hit the publish button, I’m hopeful that further connections will result in you and others reading my thoughts. By the way, I often wonder why I do this. My good friend Google tells me that there are around 500 million regular bloggers in the world. Every time I launch my musings into this sea of thoughts, I find myself amazed when comments come across my desktop in response to what I’ve published. Oftentimes the comments come from someone of another culture, which tells me that human connections can traverse any boundaries.

By nature, I’m an introvert. It may sound like a strange concept that I consider myself a highly functional introvert. My career was in human resources, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I can’t think of too many occupations that require the ability to connect with others more that human resources. To serve the people of an organization, a human resource professional must be able to connect with people both horizontally and laterally, serving the needs of executives and staff. The greater the connection, the better. I think back how satisfied I felt whenever an employee satisfaction survey produced good numbers. Even though my staff and I had worked hard to ensure good connections of people in the organization, we also felt a greater sense of connection reading good numbers and comments from the results of an employee satisfaction survey.

Call me naive if you will, but I’m convinced that the world would be a better place if more of us realized that we need each other. Furthermore, that we are connected in ways that we don’t even think about.  

The more connections we have the better for all.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

God knows what we need

Oftentimes you run across something in your reading that touches you on mnany levels. The following is something from one of those times. I take no credit for this, but I had to share it with others. We often think we know what we need, but God knows best.

An unknown civil war soldier wrote this eloquent testimony:

I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I had asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.

Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered; I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.