Are we missing it?!?

We live distracted lives.  It’s true.  We don’t want to, but we feel the lure of distractions on a consistent basis.  These distractions manifest themselves in the form of work, people drama, entertainment, and usually come via the path of technology.  None of these things in and of themselves are bad or wrong.  However, we have allowed them to steal our focus on a consistent basis.  We (I) have allowed them to throw life out of balance.

When did I really get hit with this uncomfortable truth?

It was the third practice for my son’s baseball team.  The kids have varying degrees of experience with baseball, even at their young ages (6-7 years old).  As I sat back fighting the urge to lose myself in our social media and game app worlds, I felt my son’s gaze.  A gaze that pled for his daddy to pay attention and provide affirmation.

I struggled, but maintained focus on my son. His enjoyment of what he was participating in was amazing.  The smile on his face was enough to snap me out of my desire to see what was trending or to play the same mini game on Plants v. Zombies.  I no longer worried about what I was missing and I became a participant in his enjoyment.  If only aesthetically, I was on the field with him.

Interestingly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that every adult who was at this practice was staring at their phone, pad, or laptop.  They had given into the urge that beckoned with the song of sweet temptation.  “Just take a quick peek” it says.  “It will only be a moment.” My reality, this would pull me in 99 times out of a 100, it was only the hope of that little boy that held me strong.  Unfortunately, every other adult traveled down the rabbit hole that I knew oh so well.  I want to emphasize, I am no better than any of them.  I am quite guilty of this on a consistent basis.

The enjoyment I was receiving through watching my son and the sorrow I felt for them as they missed what their children were doing led me to spend time with the following questions, 1) What are we missing in front of us?  2) What are we afraid of missing on social media or in the game world?

I heard all of my criticisms echo in my head regarding the generations below mine and how they are addicted to technology and how things were better in our day.  However, this example shows that we are just as sucked in as those generations under us.  We are all missing it. We are all missing life.  We are missing our kids. We are missing experiences.  We are missing each other.  I’m sure many of us have the clarity and the will to put these devices down, but many of us also have fallen prey to the tempter’s whisper of “just take a look.  Just for a moment.”  Only to realize an hour or more has gone by or an experience has ended while we wished for that time back.

Even in times where we are putting the device down and we combat the Pavlovian response to its tone or vibration, we deal with guilt.  The guilt of letting others down.  We all know how those calls start with “I sent you an email/text, but didn’t hear from you.”or the 17 straight texts that end with “hello?” or “u there?”.  This fuels the guilt feeling that so many of us fight.  We believe that we are letting others down by engaging our present and ignoring their moment.  In the vast majority of cases, we realize that there was no emergency, but it doesn’t help assuage our guilt.  However we must focus on the bigger issues at play!

What am I saying with my actions to the people that matter in my life through my actions?  Am I saying to them that it’s OK to check out and engross our lives in the virtual realm while life happens around us.  Am I showing them that our technology streams are more important than the person in front of us?  Am I showing them that it is OK to put people on hold while others who are not present jump in front of them via my phone?  What message does that send to anyone who get to share time with?  Bleak thoughts, but being aware of the problem is the first step in solving it.

As I think on these issues I realize, it doesn’t have to be this way.  I may have gotten sucked into this tech distracted lifestyle, but I know what it is like to live without it.  I know what life is like when people can’t call or text and tether you to the virtual world at a moment’s notice.

I found purpose in my thoughts at that field and a minor mission.  I want to TEACH my children how they should rule their technology and not allow technology to rule them.  This is the critical piece of every tool and experience that is at our disposal.  We must rule our technology and refuse its rule over us.  I want to show everyone who I get to spend time with that they are important to me and worth my time.  I want, NO – WILL, bring balance back to my life on this.  I must be awake in every capacity to fulfill my purpose to inspire and touch the lives around me.

We are the last generation of the fully non-connected experience and we know the beauty of living a life away from the screen.  WE MAY NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS, BUT WE HAVE THE EXPERIENCE.  We have generations below us who need us to lead the way.

As we spend the summer months enjoying family time, vacations, or just finding those moments of beauty in life, I am doing my best to put the phone down and away.  When there is a picture that needs taken, I will take it, but I’ll post it later.  When I get a text message, phone call, email, or whatever, I remind myself that it will be there later, but the moment that I am in will only be here once.

Using the tools of our current time is important, but we must determine their usage – the when, the where, and the how.  For life is made up of many critical and impactful moments.  It will be these singular moments that help us AWAKEN and fill our lives with strength, love, struggle, and hope.  It will be these moments that we can call upon to fuel our RISE and we won’t want to miss them for the world.

 

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Manifesto

What is he doing now? I’m sure many of you have said this as I’ve started pelting social media and tagging many of you on posts that you may not have time to read or may not care to read.  I just want to say this to you.  “I get it, but I cannot stop.”

Over the 43 years that I have lived my life, I have been on a journey to find what I am good at doing (my gifts) and how I can help those around me with it (my purpose).  I am not trying to be anything other than who I am supposed to be and I do not see myself as being more than someone who has a heart to minister to those in which I have the amazing opportunity to share space with in life.  It can be physical or cyberspace, either way, I want to be of assistance through inspiration and thought.

It has taken me 43 years to figure out that my gifts center on thinking, connecting, and expressing information.  I am a writer, a lyricist, thinker, developing song writer, and dreamer.  With all of these gifts, I need to begin to use them fully to meet my purpose of inspiring every person that I can.  I am compelled to work to inspire everyone that I can come into contact with to know that you are amazing.  You are a unique and wonderful being who has gifts that can make this world a better place and provide you with joy and fulfillment beyond what you may believe is possible.  If I can provide support and positive reassurance through writing to avoid and ignore distraction from your purpose then I am meeting my purpose.

Do I have goals and beliefs about where this will lead – yes.  However, my purpose is more than goals.  My purpose is the reason for being here.  Goals may be a part of where I believe this is going, but they don’t govern my purpose.  My purpose governs my goals.

My overall focus is to share this message with the world.  It may be through this blog format, the book I am writing, speaking to groups, podcasts, or whatever.  I just want to be used by God to do something that meets my purpose and inspires others.  To do something that invigorates and creates that feeling of being alive for all of us. I have no desire to create a virtual persona, but to express the genuine and heartfelt message that resides within me.

So if you were wondering why I am doing this, this is it in a nutshell – I HAVE TO.  I AM COMPELLED WITH ALL THAT IS IN ME TO SHARE THIS MESSAGE.

My blog and social media outlets aren’t about numbers of followers, likes, retweets, or comments.  Although every follow, like, retweet, and comment comes with GREAT APPRECIATION and VALIDATION that this message is needed and I am serving that need.  This is bigger.  This is my purpose, that thing in life that gives you more energy every time you work on it regardless of how much energy you expend to fulfill it.

In going down this road, I have learned so many lessons that I once believed were fiction.

  1. It’s NEVER too late to engage in finding your purpose and your gifts (when combined you are in your element)
  2. There is room for EVERYONE’S gifts and purpose
  3. No matter how hardened, a heart can break its shell to grow stronger in LOVE
  4. It’s never too late to start listening again
  5. I make more mistakes now that I am in my element, but I am learning more than ever before
  6. I am more afraid of leaving this life not having shared what I need to leave behind than I am of dying
  7. Our legacy is not tied to what society believes is important or has defined as success, but in what we do in the service to others through our element

Above all an underlying premise is unchanging, YOU ARE UNIQUELY CREATED, with all of your quirks and flaws, to live a life that is like no other.  Embrace it, Live it, AWAKEN and Rise!

Side note: If you believe that this message is needed and can help those around you, I humbly ask that you please share through Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, encourage others to sign up on my email list on the right side of these posts, etc.  If you would like to have me speak to any groups or organizations, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I would be thrilled to share this message and what it took to get to this realization.

If interested, you can contact me at brianlidle@gmail.com and I would be more than willing to discuss how we can help inspire others to AWAKEN and RISE!

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Too Much!

Have you ever been somewhere where the environment provided you with just too much of anything?  I think of times where I’ve been in large groups of people for too long, in loud surroundings for too long, getting talked at for too long, or encased in smoke from cigarettes, bonfires, or any other smell for too long.

First, I get a nagging itch. My flight response starts to trigger. I try to check out a bit and get within myself to recuperate or recharge for a final push to get through it.  When this doesn’t get me to the end, I begin to have vivid verbal dialogues within myself.  I say positive things, strengthening words, and if this doesn’t work – I deteriorate into a major flight response.  I will pace, get agitated, and eventually find a way out to leave the environment.  This inevitably leads to relief and a refocusing on the things often taken for granted yet newly appreciated like space, silence, or fresh air.

Recently and unwillingly, I have been exposed to and ingested far too much hate.  The events of the world around me and exposure via social media have generated far too much hate to handle. Hate in the form of violence. Hate in the form of blame.  Hate in the form of people experiencing happiness as a result of the pain of others.  Hate in the form of just nasty commentaries on who is right, wrong, evil, or good based on perspective.  If we focused on love, not a fluffy bubblegum concept, but REAL love, our interactions and experiences with each other would be drastically different.

Just as toxic is the never-ending opportunities where we drag each other into the pain of what is going on by taking like knowledgeable observers in judgment of these events or complaining about how we can’t change the world around us. If I’m honest with myself, I know these are all things that are so easily focused upon.  The media preys upon what will get us most distracted and runs those stories with alarming repetitive regularity for their ratings. They focus us on tragedy and hate; fear and failings in the name of ratings, which equals money.

Right now, I am raising my hand as chief of the offenders. I have done all of the things I mention above.  However, I also have recently realized that I can play a part in making things better. Although my delivery often needs work, the answer has been and continues to be LOVE.

I realize that many aren’t use to a man talking about love and frankly that is a problem.  Love should never be far from any person’s mind, lips, or in this day and age keyboards.  In all matters we need to expound and extoll the virtues and power of LOVE.  Whether you are a humanist, atheist, spiritualist, universalist, whatever-ist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, or any and all other walk of life/belief system.  The basic premise remains the same – LOVE is powerful and the world is starving for it.

Love inspires uncommon acts of self-sacrifice, brotherhood and sisterhood, compassion, healing, and community.  But how can anyone make a difference in such a big world?  Here are some general lessons I have learned.  There are always exceptions to every rule, but this is serving me well.

  1. LOVE those around you, even when you don’t feel like it.  Feelings are fleeting, but love is consistent.
  2. Push yourself to see the LOVE in yourself and for yourself.  You can make tremendous contributions to the people you touch each day with any type of interaction.  Though often unseen by the person generating the LOVE, it is greatly impactful on the person receiving the LOVE.
  3. Look for the helpers and be one.  In times of pain and tragedy, let’s hurt with those hurting, but stay clear of judgment and blame towards those who are in pain.  If we can take our eyes off the pain and look at the LOVE that comes from those who are comforting, we begin to see things from a higher perspective.  This helps elevate our thoughts away from distraction and keeps us focused on healing.
  4. It’s not as easy as I first thought, but it takes focus, determination, and a lot of positive self-talk.
  5. Just Do It – what have you got to lose?

When in times of crisis, dismay, pain, or when surrounded by hate, if we focus on love we will AWAKEN to our strength and RISE to inspire others to do the same.  We can make a difference.  Let’s not be held hostage by the hate that continues to swirl around us, but let’s call on our most powerful asset.

Therefore, I call on myself and hope you will join me to embrace the POWER of LOVE and RISE ABOVE the hate!

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FEAR = Face Everything And Rise!

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”

– Les Brown

Fear has kept me from leaving my comfort zone all to often, but what if we could harness its positive possibilities and use it for our RISE?

Fear can empower us, but it can also make us powerless.  Fear can enslave us or it can fuel us to a level of unparalleled freedom..  Fear is an oppressor who convinces us to stay comfortable and run from all change.  Yet, fear can also be a catalyst to change everything.  Fear often causes us to give way to the possible in deference to the improbable. My question to contemplate, could fear’s tyrannical power lay in the bounds of our perspective and ability to use it?

When it comes to fear, we need to master its impact.  It’s impact on how we view life and the world around us.  By no means should I allow fear to ever control me or my actions.

However, I should use it to fuel and create acute awareness and intensity.  It has to be my advisor, but not my decision-maker.  My fuel, but not my driver. Too many times, I have allowed fear to be the driver in my life.  I have allowed it to skew my perceptions, beliefs, and unfortunately decisions. The things I regret most are the things I feared to step out and do.  NOT the times, I was fearful and did it anyway.

Fear starts as a seed planted by the world.  Sometimes, it comes through genuine concern about your safety and security from those who may care for you, but doubt you and your gifts.  They believe the only way to live is within the system.  They don’t understand that your gifts and passions will make room for you. They want you to play it safe.  Unwittingly, what they are proposing is for you to compromise who you are and your purpose for their way of life.

A long held saying and truth – fortune favors the bold.  In short, GO FOR IT.  Jump into that arena of life and own your fear. Not just for a minute or for a time, but get in it to win it.  If we fail, let’s fail daring to find greatness. Let’s commit to fighting and overcoming fear to find our purpose.

It’s never easy to do such things and this is why truly living life can be categorized as a battle, being in the arena, being in the fight, waging the war, or getting into the ring.  We will take some hits, some big hits, but let’s give as good as we get and RISE to a greater level of understanding and purpose in life.

We will meet tests and trials head on in the center of life’s coliseum.  We will experience fear in these moments and come to a choice.  How will we use it? Will we allow it cripple us to shrink from the fight – OR – will we allow it to fuel our passion for what is in our hearts and fight on more intensely?

I have come to the realization that I am more afraid of waking up to an alarm each morning and partaking in existence instead of life.  I fear walking around numb and temperate instead of having my sensations energized and on fire for what I was meant to do with my life.

As I continue to push myself and take risks, I think about the fear that encompasses stepping left when the crowd goes right.  I think about the fear that grips my tongue when I have a differing viewpoint, but concerned about how it will be received.  My reaction to fear has often forced who I am to meet the expectations of others.  It took me a long time to realize that my cowering to fear and not people boxed me into a role I was never meant to play.

As I speak strongly against the timid reaction to fear, I realize that fear can play an important role.   When we use fear for our good it creates an intensity and focus that cannot be denied.  Think of an animal when it is being chased.  The tremendous energy to escape and find freedom can only be energized by the fear of being caught.  It’s this adrenaline impact that we need to use for our good.  Let’s harness its power! Let’s make fear work for us!

I say this to myself, take a risk, be you!  Be more fearful of not being you and living a life that lacks truth, than to fear what others may think or expect and to live a lie.  I am determined to let fear fuel my RISE!  A great, but flawed person once said, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”  I finally understand that statement.  We need to fear what it does to us when we cower to it and how it can enslave our thoughts and actions, preventing our opportunities to AWAKEN and RISE.

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Here’s to the Jumpers

It takes a great deal of courage and faith to open our eyes and AWAKEN to the possibilities and a greater purpose to our life.  Within this awakening is the call to discover the gifts we have been blessed with and embracing the uniqueness that is us.  It is a state of discovery that goes beyond finding ourselves and into the chasm-like questions of what are my gifts and what is my purpose?  Sir Ken Robinson calls this alignment of using your gifts and purpose as finding your element.

More than the discovery of our element, it takes an even greater degree of courage and faith to RISE with raw emotion and purpose, and declare that you will live in your element.  It is the equivalent of walking out to the edge of the cliff, exposed to the world, and with great faith, anxiety, and vigor – you jump.  You jump with the aim to fly.  This act of jumping is the ultimate step in demonstrating that we have purpose in this world.  That we aren’t just cogs in the machine, but beings that are far more powerful than we can imagine who are filled with the ability to impact all those around us with the power of our element.

Many people have jumped before and many will jump after.  For some the jump is filled with the admiration of many, but self-doubt and competition looms such as if someone was going to become a doctor.  For others, the world doubts them.  Their path is discredited and discouraged such as artists, musicians, or those who leave the comfort of a regular paying job with benefits to pursue their element.

In all these cases, we must remember that security of the system seems nice, but it isn’t fool proof.  We need to realize that benefit packages change, the economy ebbs and flows, and none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  But don’t take this as a depressive reality, take it as a permissive moment to explore who you are and take a leap with purpose.

I see many people who are jumping only to find struggle, resistance, joy, fulfillment, and peace in their souls.  Yes, you have the bad and the good.  Each person who experiences this has said the same three things.  One, it was exceptionally difficult with many moments of doubt in success (but not in purpose).  Two, they would never go back.  Three, they wouldn’t have it any other way.  As they RISE, they serve as inspiration to us all.

DeMassimos

Dedicated to my friends and recent jumpers: Mike and Bethany DeMassimo.

DeMassimo’s Authentic Sauces

http://www.demassimos.com/

Dear Readers,

If you would be so kind to take 5 minutes to complete this survey.  This feedback will be critical in helping me to spread this message and continue to inspire people to AWAKEN AND RISE!

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Pain to Power

Life can be painful.  Things happen that shake us, sadden us, and test our very souls.  Everyone knows this all too well.  We see pain play out for others through the window of technology and in our own lives with unfortunate regularity.

Yet, one of the most inspiring actions is when someone who has gone through great pain – steps forward to help others.  In doing so there is an opportunity to heal, to love, and to comfort in a powerful way.  It makes me wonder about the power that is held by all of us, as we all have been scarred by the tragedies of life.

When we see others struggle with their moments of hurt,  we have a choice to shrink within our own pain or step to the forefront to provide healing. If we stay within ourselves, we are denying our own souls the opportunity to heal and experience connection. In stepping forward, we make a declaration to love, share, and put others before us.  I do not say this flippantly as this takes a great deal of courage, a rawness of experience, a realness in perspective, and braveness in vulnerability.

We all have memories and events that haunt us.  The pictures that we have from these moments are heart-wrenching and troubling.  However, with this trauma comes the opportunity to spread great love and comfort to others who will experience pain after us. It is a fact that this world has pain for all of us.  Let us use our pain to connect and heal others.  We don’t have to go through the same things to help each other, but to only understand hurt as there is a variety to go around.  Let’s start to use hurt for a higher purpose.  Let’s begin to weaken its power to disconnect and create bitterness.  Let’s use pain and sorrow as a platform to connect and create love.  Let’s use it to help each other RISE.

 

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Who Can Bear A Broken Spirit?

The struggle of life can make us or break us.  The choice is ours.

We all have something that we deal with on a daily basis that makes us human and imperfect.  We all lead lives that have struggle.  It wouldn’t be this life without it. There are many who struggle privately and to the outside world their life may seem perfect.  There are just as many who struggle publicly and we notice. I have yet to figure out if one or the other is better, worse, or just is what it is.

My greatest struggle (there is more than one, but this is the one that I have been fighting the longest) is public.  I hate that it is.  Let me rephrase, I DESPISE the public nature of my greatest struggle.  If you know me you see it.  It is with my weight.  People see when I am doing well and trending downward on the scale, but they also bear witness when my body is doing everything it can to resist the change.  They also get to see when I break and collapse under the relentless fight that it is.  I wish I could hide this, but I can’t.  When I fall, I feel the judgement and shame that arises from within as I struggle to forgive myself and move on.  In a world of processed and sugar saturated food, there are times when I give in to temptation, which leads to self condemnation, thus losing hope and faith, the result – broken to my core.  My negative narrative pummels me to the point where I feel defeated.  I suffer a broken spirit.

THE HOPE:

A realization has come to me through this process of AWAKENING.  It is the steps of self-damnation that lead to the breaking of my spirit, are not the actions or results of my failures themselves.  Let me say this again. It is NOT the act of making mistakes, but it IS the destructive self-talk and self-shaming that pushes me down the proverbial slip-n-slide to a broken spirit. I’m using the slip-n-slide in an extremely purposeful way.  I don’t see this process as a slow one, as a path,  but one where you quickly move from a mistake, to negative internal conversations, to a broken spirit. I began to realize that if this is playing out in me, then it is playing out in others as well.

What I have come to understand (but not yet fully implement) is that we can interrupt this process and allow the struggle to build us instead of allowing it to break us.  Here are the 3 truths to prevent a broken spirit.  The truths are common sense, but take time and persistence to embed them into a powerful mindset.

  1. When we make mistakes, we simply have made a mistake.  Don’t let the virtual, marketed, or phantom unrealities of the world convince you that it is anything more than that – ONE mistake or maybe ONE series of mistakes.
  2. Be vigilant with your internal dialogue.  Pause your internal dialogue and think of how you would approach someone else who has made this mistake.  Think of the kindness and encouragement that you would extend to them, then share that with yourself.
  3. Know that every mistake, trial, aspect of screwing up is a workout bent on strengthening your empathy, your character, and your focus on your purpose. When life throws tethers at you RISING, burn brighter and hotter to melt them off of you.  What do I mean by this? When I struggle, privately or publicly,  I know that God means it for good, but evil means it for destruction.  I have recently likened this process to lifting weights.  Lifting can produce a great deal of stress and strain on us, but if we maintain focus and proper technique – it will build us.  If we lose focus or utilize improper technique – it will break us down. Let God strengthen you through struggle.  Stay focused, speak kindly and positively to yourself, and know that your mistakes don’t define you, but your passions and purpose override all the imperfections.

The key and the power that we have in RISING through our imperfection is in our view and approach t0 our struggle. Whether public or private, we are all battling something.  Let us RISE above the struggle and allow it to strengthen us in all that we do.  Let’s allow it to bind us together knowing that we don’t have to be perfect to make a difference, but we can make a difference despite our imperfections.  That is the magic of being human and living in our element.

AWAKEN AND RISE!

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Trapped In Cement?

You want to make a change.  You feel bogged down, weary, and burdened. Your current path is drudgery.  This happens to all of us and in many different instances. It may be with a journey to greater health, overcoming an addiction, or trying to change simple behaviors. It ranges from the simple to the complex. Bottom line: we want a greater life, a greater purpose, and a greater result. We want to change, but we just seem to be stuck.  Remember those New Year’s Resolutions?  What seems to derail many of us? It’s often an overwhelming sense of being stuck. What stops us from resuming our efforts – cement.

Cement is the symbolic equivalent to that busy nature of life.  The technique resistance uses against you to overwhelm your senses, your mind, and to put so much on your plate that you feel like you can barely breathe.  The result – you feel stuck.

Feeling stuck drains you of your passion and purpose. It is the opposite of being alive.  It’s the trail head to the path of numbness, the beginning of going to sleep. It creates a self-narrative of “can’t”, “shouldn’t”, and impossibility.  If we are to RISE, we must know what to do in these situations.  We must prepare ourselves for the resistance.  We must have a plan in our mind on how to counter the impact of being trapped in the cement of circumstance, situation, and life.

The plan – JUST MOVE!  Move one muscle.  Move one toe.  Move one figurative thought.  Move one practical step.  JUST MOVE! If you can move, you are not stuck.  If you can move, you are regaining purpose.  If you can move, you are growing and strengthening.

I believe that when we are stuck, we often get too far ahead of ourselves.  We condemn based on where we could be, instead of appreciating how far we have come.  We live in a world of hard results. However, the impact of the process and our refusal to quit means more than the end result.  For practical application: Steven was focused on a major weight loss goal this year.  His heart was set on dropping 120 lbs in one year.  This seems exceptionally possible as this is a 10 lbs per month focus and roughly a 2.4 lb loss per week.  At Steven’s size this is very doable and it will still leave him with some work to do to get where he wants to go after the year’s goal is completed. Yet it will be a tremendous start.

During the first two months, Steven was rocking it!  He lost 32 lbs and did it with healthy changes.  Unfortunately, resistance hit Steven as he was entering the month of March.  A slight tear in his meniscus sidelined him for two weeks.  It put him on the couch for two weeks.  Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Steven was cautious about what he ate and his weight maintained over the time he was healing.  It was mid-March and he was ahead of where he needed to be.  He felt better and started to resume activity. Steven returned to the gym with a light workout in mind and he was going to test his body’s response to the activity.  He was exceptionally pleased to know that he had some limitations, but overall he was able to regain movement and activity.  On his way home, he got a call.  Steven was invited to meet friends for a quick bite to eat and he thought he would  celebrate his return to the gym with food and friends.

Steven met his friends at the local Mexican restaurant.  Chips were placed in front of him and he thought a cheese queso would be the perfect celebratory response to his current victory.  He ordered up.  After a few hours, a few margaritas, a lot of chips and queso dip, and an entree Steven had his fill.  He bid farewell to his friends and headed for home.  This was the start to the slide.  Steven’s celebration with food went from one night to the next day, and to the next day, and so on.  By the end of March, Steven had regained 7 lbs.  He struggled with the idea that he was now 5 lbs behind his goal, but April would be the equalizer.

Unfortunately at the conclusion of the second week of April, Steven weighed himself and realized he was in trouble.  Steven had gained another 20 lbs.  He was down 5 lbs, but sliding back fast.  He viewed himself as a failure.  He lost the will, the drive, and the excitement to do something for himself.  As smoothly as his weight melted off, he stacked it on with great speed.  Steven wanted to curl up and cry.  Steven was at a break point.  He was solidly stuck in the cement.  He became focused on where he was, how he was behind, and how he had failed.  He was being consumed by this thought. Until a thought jolted him back to life.

Life isn’t what happens, but how you respond!  He didn’t lose sight of his concrete goals, but he did realize that this was the opportunity to learn how to fight back when stuck.  Steven decided to move one muscle.  He started with focusing on this phrase, “Mile by mile – life is a trial.  Yard by yard – life is hard.  But inch by inch – life is a cinch.”  He started by cleaning up his habit of impulse eating when in social situations.  Steven began to realize that when we get in the arena, we are signing up to get our butts kicked.  When we dare to make changes for the better, resistance doesn’t lay down and give up – it fights back.  But when we get knocked down we must learn how to stand back up.  Steven may not be where he wants to be, but he is thankful that he isn’t where he was on January 1st.  His RISE is continuing.

What about us?  Are we trapped in cement?  Have we allowed circumstance and life to temper and possibly bury our ambition to RISE?  If we aren’t in this situation now, we will be at some point.  The key – focus on one inch.  One thing.  JUST MOVE! Before long, we will break free from the cement that is trying to hold us on the ground.  Before long, we will RISE!

 

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Angels Among Us

I’ve been witness to the reality that there are angels all around us.  In fact, I’ve seen them working.  Let me describe them to you.

Last Friday, I had one of those moments.  You know that epiphany, the finding of my element, or the excited continuation of the RISE.  I described this moment to a couple of friends as feeling anxious and excited all at once.  The reality – I was truly alive!  Alive with passion and purpose.  I was in a space that keeps you awake at night with a mind that is electrified with positive thought and possibility.  It was the revealing of an aspect of my true purpose in life.  With all that said, my focus is on what happened after that moment that made me realize the presence of angels.

Two days after the aforementioned moment, I began to struggle.  It wasn’t about any specific problem or event.  It was about the overwhelming nature of life.  It was the crushing weight of resistance against the purpose I felt.  I couldn’t get it out of my mind how impacted I began to feel.  The struggle with my own forgetfulness, personal battles, and the grind at work began to darken my soul.  I forgot about the moment and became severely distracted.

Our flight path to RISE isn’t an easy one, it is messy.  It is a fight for our very spirit, but one that is worth fighting.  I believe the concept of struggle often gets lost in the positive mindset.  The struggle is tough and at times can beat the tar out of you, but ultimately, it’s a good thing if you don’t get lost in it.  The struggle strengthens you while creating a fragility in your heart that allows it to break for others.  Without struggle you can’t relate to the trials that others face.  You can’t build yourself mentally or physically.  You can’t empathize or sincerely sympathize.  Without struggle, we cannot support and share our stories of how to overcome the challenges of life. This struggle can crush us or it can build us.

Enter the angels.  As I was being crushed and suffocated by resistance, I maintained my pride and strong front until my forgetfulness caused me to break.  With her gentle and understanding nature, the first angel was upon me.  My wife, Michele was there to comfort and believe in me.  She put her hand on my arm and with understanding eyes infused strength into my weary soul.  Touch is such an amazing power.  It heals the soul with such calming force.  It restores the damage with tenderness.  It soothes the savage beast while repelling the thoughts that attempt to tether us to the negative.  This was the beginning of the rejuvenation path.

The next day my good friend Sharon entered the picture.  Sharon has a way about her that is so unique.  She is kindness and courage.  Always putting others before herself. I consistently believe the most accurate description of her is – a bearer of light.  A phrase that I do not utter flippantly.  As we met over lunch, I shared the struggles of my previous few days.  With great patience and persistence Sharon began to offer perspectives that would broaden my thought process to see things differently.  Her bold rescue efforts didn’t get be back to where I wanted to be, but they set the stage for what was to come.  Enter the perspective prophet – Lori.

Lori’s amazing ability to energize and uplift me is unreal.  We function on the same wavelength in so many capacities and Lori has a 5th gear that is truly a gift.  To describe her in a phrase, Lori is a fireball of positivity and purpose who sees the big picture. Another bearer of light.  As I was rehashing the same story of my struggle, Lori sat back and smiled.  Then she said, “it’s resistance”.  “It’s not going to attack you the way you think.  You were in your passion and purpose and now it’s going to fight back against you.”  Wow!  I snapped out of the trance.  I felt empowered.  Yes, the fight wasn’t against all these things that were piled upon me.  The fight was against the force that was oppressing me by using those things.  It was against negativity and distraction. My mind was beginning to reset and knowing that this was the result of resistance, I was almost ready to go.

Things looked up as I finally had a full night of sleep – 8 hours and I didn’t need an alarm to wake up.  A bliss that I was denied to me for some time and it reached a blistering peak in the midst of my trial.  Then final restoration and strength returned as the power of the team descended upon me.

I started today off with a meeting.  Oh joy, oh joy an hour and a half meeting to start the day.  By my sarcastic sentence you can tell I have a fondness of meetings.  Today was different.  Today was meant to be.  As I had the privilege to meet with our full team of academic leaders to discuss our foundations and future, the room was alive with thought, creativity, challenges to ideas, and team work.  This team accepts each other for who we are and appreciates the gifts we all bring to the table.  The air in this packed conference room was filled with light.  Light from the hearts of the positive souls around me.  Without knowing it they all were ministering to me.  They lifted me up by their actions and love for one another.  It was then that I realized that I was SURROUNDED BY ANGELS!  If we are to RISE, we need each other.  We have to be willing to be ministered to as we seek to uplift others.  The path isn’t easy, but those souls who are RISING around us, prove to be amazing flight companions.

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One Moment to Make a Difference

Paralyzed with fear.  Frozen in time.  No avenue to turn, no place to go, my life stranded on a board high above the ground with no help to be found.

I was approximately 8 or 9 years old and new construction had started on a house across the street.  My friends and I knew we shouldn’t be playing around a construction site, but the possibilities of this figurative fun house were too much temptation to bear.  We had proceeded to exhaust our opportunities of playing towards the front and had moved to the back of the newly laid foundation.  Unlike the front, there was no easy access from the ground to get into the basement area, as there was a deep trench between solid ground and the concrete block.  To an 8 year old boy, it seemed like a football field, but in reality it was probably about an 8 foot span.  The only avenue to get from the ground to the wall and into the basement was a wood plank.  My friends fearlessly walked across the plank to jump down into the basement.  Not wanting to miss the fun, but lacking the courage to walk across, I dropped down and began to crawl across the board.  As each movement caused the board to shift, fear continued to build. Ice crept from my feet to my knees, to my shoulders, and down my arms until I was frozen halfway across the board.

When I froze, they all froze.  They knew I was gripped with fear.  They hoped to encourage me off the board and began to shout instructions. “Just move!”  “You can do this!” “Don’t look down!”  I heard them, but couldn’t manage a muscle to move.  Unfortunately, I looked down.  The drop was canyon-like in my mind, but it was more realistically in the 12-15 foot range.  Either way the peril I faced was real. Underneath me was unlaid and piled concrete block that was left by the crew.  The realization that at minimum my health was at stake and possibly my life.  Friends began to panic as they were gripped with fear that I may be severely hurt and the equal fear of what would happen if we had to get our parents to save me.

I began to look at the possibility of turning around or crawling backwards as I made my first move in what seemed like hours, the board rocked and I barely maintained my balance.  Petrified, I began to hysterically cry.

Jimmy McPhillips was a much older non-adult neighbor, but we always had a connection.  Over the past year or so we joked that I was Batman and he was my Robin.  Imagine an 8 year old claiming Batman and a 19 year old being OK with being Robin.  It was comical to say the least.  Yet, his kindness towards me will always be remembered. And on this day, he would be the hero.

It was almost cinematic as I felt the kids behind me split and a presence stepped onto the board.  Jimmy leaned in, grabbed me around the waist, and with a quick turn, he returned me to safety.  Jimmy was Batman.

As I began to reflect on what to write this week, I thought of that moment.  How Jimmy impacted my life.  How to this day, I feel such gratitude towards him.  How his acts of kindness and courage have been imprinted on me.  How one moment of concern for me followed by action made such a difference.  Then I realized that we can all be Jimmy.  We can all take a moment to rescue or help someone around us.  We can humor them to let them know that they matter to us.  We can embrace the power of humility to let the least of us, know that they are the greatest of us.  If we are to RISE, let’s take others with us!  I didn’t know Jimmy well, but I know how he made me feel.  He made me feel important, appreciated, and that I mattered.  Let’s inspire this world to step forward.  Let’s inspire those around us by our actions.  Let’s take a MOMENT to make a DIFFERENCE.

In heartfelt and appreciative memory of James McPhillips (1960-2008).

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