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Perspective Is Just A Matter Of Thorns Or Roses

Perspective is something that everyone has, and on our marathon of life, how we see the path and how we handle the bumps in the road are what help us develop different perspectives. Perspectives can help us dream, they can point us in directions, they can help us choose paths, and push us up and over the bumps.

When Michelangelo painted the first stroke of the Sistine Chapel it was a blank canvas, and he had no idea the masterpiece it would become. When Rosa Parks took her stand and refused to give up her seat on the bus, she could never know her perspective would change the world. As Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook did he ever have the perspective that it would be the most widely used social platform in the world? Impacting equality, art, and social media, each of these people had a different perspective on things, they stepped away from their fears, and didn't worry about the outcome, they just took the step into the future.

A quote from David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas “All revolutions are the sheerest fantasy until they happen; then they become historical inevitabilities.” Perspective can help us see things in a different light, it can create conversations, it can create controversy, but it can also create a springboard that lifts ideas to becoming the first brushstroke. Perspective can create reality, and on our marathon of life, each of us creates our own reality from our very own perspectives.

Some people will call you crazy, look at history again and see all the folks whose perspective changed what we know. Christopher Columbus wanted to sail around the world, the one that people thought was square, but his perspective was that it was round, and he had to convince people to believe in him and his ideas. Perspective could be you taking time this holiday season to take a shift at the homeless shelter and serve a holiday meal to those who have no where to go, providing you with yet another perspective. Not every perspective will change the world, or make you a famous historical icon, but it could change your life.

Perspective is relative, like the thorns on a rose bush, or is it the roses on a thorn bush, either way you get beauty, but you have to be careful when you pick it up. Perspective is what gives us a future and how we use it, that determines which way we go, it is our marathon and our choices, we hold the brush and with each stroke we paint a new masterpiece.

Art and Life patterned together

As you look at an artist and their work you immediately like it or you don't. Through time you might come to change your taste in art, you also might learn to life an artist and their work because you learn to understand them better. That is also true in life. When you meet people you might not like them immediately, but as you get to know them you develop a better understanding and you also see more of the person, a deeper appreciation for who they are or what they have lived. Art imitates life in many aspects, it can capture the color in our lives, or the darkness in our heart. Artists paint so much of their feelings, and they also capture things through many eyes, the window of the soul, the foundation of who we are and what we see. As we all walk or run our marathon of life, maybe we need to understand we are a blank canvas in the beginning, and we paint what others see, we add the images, the color, the outline, every stroke of our life adds another dimension to the painting.

Sometimes our destiny takes on a windy road, and these twists and turns cause us to question our path, and as we look at our life, the painting we have on the canvas is not what we had hoped. In many forms of art, painting, sculpture, weaving, and more, expression is the goal, connecting past and present, bringing together customs and cultures, a medium taking shape just like life. Some artists paint from experience, some from dreams, some paint images, some landscapes, some with clay, others with stone, but all of them capturing a moment they want to share. Expressions are something we all share in our lives, with a smile, a handshake, a frown, even tears, but emotions we express to one another. Artists may capture that better than some of us can express it, and that is why we are moved by art.

There are so many varieties of art, so many lives that are being expressed, just like the marathons we face and run, each one will be different, each one will have a different backdrop, each one will bring something new to our lives, and each one teaches us something new about ourselves, and about life. Art represents a story, it helps us with humanity, it teaches us about differences, it teaches us creativity, it points out that we might not always understand it, but we can accept it, it can show history and it can show the future, but most of all it teaches us about a world that allows for everything. Acceptance of art is a great teacher, as we all need to learn to accept what we don't understand, what we don't agree with, and most of all what we see in life everyday, diversity and color.

The next time you look at a work of art, stop and think about what was being conveyed, what is being expressed, was it someone telling a story of their life, or setting an example for others. Learn to appreciate the canvas that greets you every morning, or the night sky that shines bright every night. Value the spectacular moments of your marathon, take deep breaths and see what is being expressed around you. You do not have to paint, mold clay, or even have one artistic bone in your body to be an artist, or value the world of art, you simply have to learn to appreciate the art around you, take the time to see it, before it is gone.

If You Do Not Have Something Nice To Say Do Not Say Anything

Remember when your mother would tell you that if you don't have something nice to say about someone then don't say anything, well certainly we should all apply that process. Valuing other people and really keeping an open mind is important, because as another old saying goes, “before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes” because we don't know what other people are going through, and that can cause an array of emotions, reactions, or actions that we do not understand. Compassion and empathy are something we learn on our marathon of life, or traits we should develop, because it is important to understand what others are challenged with, or what they are dealing with, even though we can never truly walk a mile or even a footstep in their shoes. We can however get a glimpse of what they are experiencing, maybe a perspective, maybe even open our eyes to see another side of a story we have yet to learn.

Atticus Finch in a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Everyday we see homeless people on the street, we see people arrested, we see people commit suicide, we see folks struggling in a variety of ways, but we do not know what caused the struggle, and we do not understand it. We look at them and we worry that it might be us, or we feel disgusted, or we feel sorry for them, but we do not understand. I have a friend who I know for years has had some family struggles, and yet she puts on a good front, she stays focused on work, she drives ahead, but in her eyes you can see the pain, the struggle, and sometimes the tears. I can't claim to know what she has had to deal with, but I could ask her story, I could ask to understand her story. Life challenges all of us in so many ways, some of us it brings burdens, others it brings great joy, some financial troubles, others great wealth. Looking across at someone we do not know what they are dealing with today, and we don't always need to know, we just need to respect it, we need to provide compassion, or sometimes just space.

Every day in our marathon we could offer a kind word, a warm meal, or a smile, we could change a part of someone's day, we could change a life. Being able to empathize with people helps us to feel, and can also help us to see and learn things we might not otherwise understand. Everything is not always as it seems, we get programmed with media, television, and what we have been taught, but it is not always fact. We might have friends who are unemployed and we don't understand why they can't find work because we have not been in that position, but if we found ourselves without a job, then we might see that it is not as easy as we thought and now we understand their struggle. While taking time to understand people, or just give them a little extra time may not provide all the answers and it may not help us to develop empathy, but it might bring us closer.

We do live in a self-centered world, and this can cause us to judge folks quickly, which is something that we need to stop, we need to open our minds to second chances, open our eyes to seeing truth and not bias, or generalizations. We have to stop and ask ourselves do we really know the person, do we know the perspective we need to have? We can all learn empathy, we can all learn to seek the truth, we can all open our eyes and our heart. Our marathon of life will take us in many directions, it will cross paths with many people, and unless we take the time to really know them, we can't even put on their shoes, much less understand the journey.

Dealing with Ghosts

Dealing With Ghosts

As we approach October, the Halloween decorations come out, the witches, goblins and ghosts. We head toward the new year and wonder if the ghosts of past, present and future will visit us again this year. Dicken's old story A Christmas Carol is a great analogy of how we let so many things run our lives and take over our priorities. Instead of having a fear of those visitors, maybe we need to take the time to invite them in, sit down and have a conversation, and understand who we are, and why. Acknowledging our past, helps us to see how we have grown, or regressed, but it clearly shows us who we are, what we want and how we might need to change. Looking back is the kick in the pants sometimes we need to help us recognize the present, so we can adapt in the future.

In the present we are exactly who we are. In this moment we have to admit we are either in the same spot as the past, or we have moved into a different direction. The marathon path we were on, we have changed that path, or we still are running the same race. Goals have either been met, or ignored. We have the same problems, the same unfulfilled dreams, we are stuck in careers and unhappiness that is not going away because we are doing nothing to change it. We can't expect to see different results because we remain the same person, and if the same person we have been moves into the future, how can we hope to see a difference. In our subconscious we always have the ghost of the past walking with us, and he helps us to make decisions, he helps us to survive. That ghost taught us how to walk, talk, live, and provides us all with a snuggly warm feeling that keeps us from walking away.

Most of us are not even aware that we have the ghost with us, we would argue that we are not living in the past, that we are not making a decision based on something in our memory, and yet we all do. We get up on the same side of the bed almost everyday, we have a routine, we have a life that is almost predictable. Taking away from the story, if Scrooge had remained the same from his past his future would have not changed. So in fact neither will ours. Right now we can alter that reality, we have the future, it is unwritten, it is ours to create. Choices and decisions are ours to make, creative, inventive, everything we want is in front of us. We are not all going to get a visit from the ghosts like Scrooge did, so it is up to us to reflect on our own and drive the change we need.

First we have to examine our past experiences and reframe the way we look at them. When we remember various aspects that might be holding us back we need to rewrite those in our mind, create the positive outcome that we want to see in the future. If we look around us perhaps there are others running a marathon that we admire, maybe we look at their training techniques, how they focus and what they use to be successful. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” The future is ahead of us, but we have to stop in the present and look around, take a good look, are we heading to the next goal, or are we still looking back, and standing still. The marathon path can be overrun with ghosts, but we can pick them up and help them to move along, we can in fact learn from Dickens and bring past, present and future together to strengthen who we are, and help us define the path ahead.

Sex - Suspense - Murder - Drama -Comedy Llife or Television

With October just around the corner and television full of the fall preview lineups it is hard not to see how our lives parallel television and how much of our lives we spend watching it. While I have focused on how we all run our marathons of life, and how we make choices that impact how we run our race, it is important to turn our minds to television this week, and what is happening on all our fave shows. We all turn to the series and shows on television to escape our lives, our drama, our reality. What do we watch, superhero shows, shows about murder, doctors, hospitals, lawyers, white house, terrorists, drugs that make you smarter, FBI dramas, comedies that make fun of people in real life, and on and on. Wait, isn't that what is on the news? If television is suppose to take us away from reality, why do so many 'reality' shows have high ratings? Why is it that every show that has high viewers is based on what is going on in our modern day world? We all want to connect with life in ways that make us feel adrenaline rushes, help us to stay involved in the lives of those we watch, make us wish we could jump tall buildings, stop a bomb, and more. Then we get so involved in these television shows we become sad and depressed when they kill someone off, or worse yet the series is canceled, or comes to an end. All shows will come to an end, and it is like we lost our best friend.

This season over 400 scripted television shows will air or have aired, and that is not including the reality programming and others that will be added. How do you decide what to watch, what to tape because almost every home has a DVR, or people stream from phones, tablets and computers, watching past episodes or series, but one way or another people are going to watch thoseshows. How did we end up so obsessed and addicted to television? Anyone who even has a casual relationship with television has to know that like drinking we have become binge watchers. We DVR shows, sometimes an entire season and then we sit and watch it all at once. People DVR soap operas because they are at work, television series because they are out with their kids sports, or other reasons, but they do not miss anything. Game of Thrones is huge on HBO, and one that most everyone can tell you what is going on, Breaking Bad had a huge following, True Blood, The Walking Dead, and I could continue, but the point is that we love all of these story lines and we want to watch it at one time, we don't want to wait till next week to see what happens, we want it now.  The writers for these shows, just like a good book, they know how to hook you in the beginning and how to feed you just enough each week to keep you coming back for more. Show after show, season after season, and while we can debate why we should not watch television, it is not going to stop any of this. Think about the hours wasted watching television, we could exercise, we could spend time together doing family things. It is also proven that watching television slows down brain functions, so are we turning into stagnant and passive society? Is television a drug and if we try to stop we go through withdrawal symptoms? 

Television programs us and can also impact our physical and mental well being, and what we watch does have positive and negative impacts. Television shows deliver messages, and we need to be aware of what they are saying or not saying. There are some quality shows but you have to know what to look for, and understand how the shows effect you and your family. Do you see your kids dressing differently because of what you see on tv? Do they seem depressed over their looks? Do they worry about what they are eating, because they might gain weight? What message are you sending to yourself, and to your family with the shows you watch? How much money do you spend because of watching television? Did you ever consider the programming that goes into making you want things? How much could you save if you didn't watch television? Then there is the sensationalization of shows, and news and how biased the content is on all fronts. The other question is do you let television replace the relationships in your life? Could you take a walk with your family if you didn't have to sit down and watch a show? Would you life be different if you spent time with each other? Do you look back and miss members of your family that you could have spent more time with but you were busy with television? Of course we are not going to give up television entirely, because we all love to be entertained, but maybe we could spend a little extra time talking, discussing our day, thinking about how we could see what is going on in our lives, instead of what happened in the ER this week, or what will happen to Damon now that he doesn't have Elena. There are evils that lurk around every corner, television might be one big one, but it can't take all the blame, after all did you have to look up from your tablet or phone to catch that last bit before the commercial? The internet, our phones, our computers, technology is what consumes our lives, and we have to balance that with healthy things, like running, biking, sitting down to dinner without electronics, and really listening to each other. We do have some important things to say, if we take the time to listen.                           

Follow me on Facebook Instagram and Twitter or STOP Following and START Leading

Certainly with all the social media hype you do a lot of following, but try to remember that your influence, your challenges can help others and help you to be a better leader. Of course we all know that leading by example is key in life, work, home and social. Be authentic and genuine in your words and actions, recognize good work, encourage ideas and learn to listen more than you talk. A great leader is open to challenges, is honest with feedback, and is filled with a burning passion that drives them and inspires others.

That fire that burns inside you, the one that makes you a great leader, that fire is what you share that starts a fire in others. Helping people find their passion, showing them how to pursue it, and helping teach them how to never imitate, but to pursue truth and empowerment, that is true leadership. Like the age old quote, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” You also teach him to feed others, you help him become the next leader who can in turn create others.

Selflessness and leadership go hand in hand along with teaching, and giving. There is not a one size fits all in leadership, there is no cookie cutter style that creates a great leader, there is just personality, approach, and truth. Certainly great leaders are made, not born as we all know. In our marathon of life, learning how to work smarter, prioritize tasks, plan wisely and build success is not easy, but it is what grows great leaders. Investing in others, dedicating time and commitment to dreams and goals, and hard work that is how you gain success. You can't be afraid of failure, and you have to embrace change and lessons in life to grow into a great leader.

We all have known great leaders in our lives. It could have been a parent, a teacher, a boss, or just an acquaintance, it could even be someone you have never met. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, they come in all colors, and they come in all walks of life. Leaders do not have all the answers, but they know how to build a team that shares diversity and goals that bring success. Leaders are not always in front of a camera, and sometimes you might not even know their name. Great leaders are humble, kind, and realize that in order to be creative, you have to give yourself time and space. Reflection is something that we all can learn from, and one of the greatest gifts leaders possess.

So as you travel through your marathon of life, and you embrace the social and digital age, try to not just follow others blindly, try to see what is in front of you, choose to follow great leaders, choose to follow great ideas, choose to follow your heart and remember to have some fun, so watch me whip, watch me nae nae but most of all join in and be a great leader.

Honor our heroes they are everywhere

All gave some, Some gave all, Always remember. Certainly we have heroes that have served this country for centuries, and in all branches of the military, and in roles of firefighters, and police officers. We also have heroes that walk into classrooms everyday, we have those who sit in prisons innocent of their crimes, we have families who struggle and work to provide for their children, and of course I can go on and on, because we are surrounded by everyday heroes everywhere. Sometimes we do not take the time to see or understand those around us, we do not think of them as heroes, but if you define the word, it means someone who does extraordinary things, someone who displays courage, dedication, concern and certainly conviction.

These people bring great things to our community, they are a gift, and we don't always recognize due to circumstance. If you have a war veteran that returns we might not understand all they are going through and if they take their life, we feel sorry, we feel regret, and most of the time we forget they are still a hero. Coming from all walks of life, these people allow us to have a future, they provide us a way to have hopes and dreams, for us, for our children, for our grandchildren. They all give us a gift, help us to see how we should live our lives. Some provide safety for us, but the sacrifice is more than that, it is a lesson, a choice, a trait that we need to pass on. We should value the skills that each of us has, the time we dedicate to using those skills, and we can pay it forward.

If I had to choose the most inspiring hero in my life, it would not be easy, it might be impossible. Could you choose? Of course this is subjective, and certainly we have a host to choose from. Maybe someone who donated a large sum of money to a great charity, and that helped cure a disease, or maybe a soldier who saved his troop, or a single parent who works hard to put food on the table for their children on a small income, or a family who lost everything to pay legal bills fighting for a family member that they know is innocent but the system takes everything. Heroes come in so many shapes, so many stories, and so many situations. We all get so involved in our lives that it is easy to overlook everyday heroes, for example, what about those who face adversity head on, and never let a disability slow them down. Would we approach life the same way? Could we?

Certainly our military heroes face so much, and endure so much. They should be recognized everyday. However, remember that there are those heroes whose face will never grace the cover of Time magazine, never be on a popular television show, never run for office, and you may never even meet them, but they are there walking next to you everyday. They don't seek fame or fortune, they don't seek you even knowing them, they simply want to leave this world better than when they entered it. Try to take some time today to look around you, thank someone for just a simple act of kindness, try to provide one simple act yourself. Don't overlook what people are going through, just because you do not understand it, because they could be someone's hero, they could be a future hero, they could be you.

Beware The Vampires

Have you ever noticed that when you go into a room that is full of energy and happiness that no matter how you feel, you instantly feel better, energized and positive. When you walk into a room of negative people you immediately feel down, angry, depressed and negative. It is true that surrounding yourself with positive people has a direct impact on your attitude and your energy. Many people start their day with exercise, because it makes them energetic, but it also gives them a positive outlook and they carry that with them, and share it with others. Pay attention next time you speak to someone and see how the conversation effects you, do you feel drained, down, and sad, if so you have been bitten by a vampire, the energy type, the negative type, the ones that take your life by bringing you into their world.

You have to be aware of who you spend time with, who you bring into your life, and look for the ones with fangs. Surround yourself with stakes, have them to use when you need to be rid of a negative vampire. Not only do positive energy people help you to stay on the right track, they can inspire you, they can help you drive harder and they can help you to see a brighter future. If you lose your job, or get sick, or run into a financial issue, work around positive ideas to move ahead, sometimes those opportunities present themselves in strange ways, but remember they are not burdens, just opportunities that disguised themselves.

Fueling your life with positive people and positive energy will help you to also provide positive direction, and you will not turn into a vampire yourself. You would be amazed at how people can have a huge impact on your life and attitude. Think about where you spend most of your time, you are with family, friends and co-workers. These people take up 24 hours of your day, and either inspire you and motivate you or they create chaos in your life. Being aware of the people in your life, how their attitude can affect you that is part of the journey, it is an awakening to seeing what drags you down, or speeds you up.

Take time this week to just see how you are affected by people around you. Spend some time just focused on attitude and how it impacts you personally. Walk into a room and feel the energy, look for the vampires, and don't get bitten. Then take one day and say to yourself, no matter what I am not going to say anything negative today, I am only going to say positive things, and see how it can change your entire day. People impact us everyday and we are not aware of it, we sometimes go through a day being grumpy without even understanding what made us that way.

In our marathon of life we are going to face many vampires, we can run but sometimes they will still catch us. What we have to do is pull out our stake or our garlic, and put them down. Do not lose your energy or your positive attitude because of others, because it can take you off your path and can really slow down your journey. But if you are aware, if you are focused on building a positive group of support, and make sure your are surrounded by that positive energy then you can accomplish anything. So beware the creatures of the night, and let the slaying begin.

The Show Must Go On

Did you ever question what happens on Broadway when someone is sick, or breaks a bone, or quits or gets fired, how ever do they keep the shows going every day? The same is true with airlines running smooth, or thousands of other businesses that depend on never stopping, because the show must go on. While we have all heard the saying “I have some good news and some bad news” we never really want the bad, and we never are really prepared for it. Many of us while running our marathon of life have hit that point where we face bad news, either with our jobs, our health, finances, or other bumps in the road. Sometimes the bump knocks us down, sometimes it pushes off our path, and sometimes it knocks us completely down and piles bricks on our chest. No matter how light or heavy the load that the bad news brings, the show must go on.

Live and bills do not stop because we get derailed. Opportunities however do open doors that we have to consider when we crawl out from under the rubble. You are in control of where you go, this change that presented itself offers a new path, and while we might not have chosen to go down it before, now we have to pack our bags and take the steps. We all have roles we play in our life, mother, father, boss, co-worker, each with tasks that have to be done, each with a script that we write, and in each the show must go on. Companies fail everyday, people lose jobs, health issues surprise people everyday and they have to deal with what needs to happen, preparing for treatment, surgery, or for some death. As we face obstacles in our lives we have to remember that what we face might be catastrophic to us, but perhaps someone else is facing worse. Try to find the good, try to look for the silver lining, but above all try to find the opportunity that is in front of you.

When we face the bad news, whatever it is we have to learn to do so with our eyes open, not tear filled, not with feeling sorry for ourselves, but with clear vision, and look ahead, not behind. I remember a story about a young man whose father would take him out everyday to see the fishermen cast their nets and bring in thousands of fish. He would say millions of fisherman for centuries have been casting their nets and bringing in thousands of fish, yet there are always more fish. The show must go on, and so must we. There is always going to be good news and bad news, but how we react to it, how we move ahead that is what builds the character, and determines who we are. You run your life, you respond to actions, you can take the news and make it a gift or a burden. Some bad news is just a small pebble, some can be boulders, and some can be an avalanche. But we have to remember it is our marathon, we run it, we do not let circumstance run our lives. The show must go on, and we all play the lead role.

Encourage and teach share the knowledge

Everyday we learn lessons in life, we learn from others, we learn from life itself, we learn from experience, and certainly as we learn from mistakes. One of the greatest lessons we have all learned in life is that we get treated the way we teach others to treat us, respect yourself first, and then others will also. Treating others with respect is also key, and that is something we share.

In order to learn in life, we make mistakes, but if we look at those as lessons instead of errors, then we will continue to grow, to learn and to look at life in exciting new ways every year we age. Couple that attitude with forgiveness and you expand yourself. Forgiveness of others, and of yourself takes a weight off your shoulders, it refreshes your spirit and your soul, anger only weighs you down.

Embracing change, allowing yourself to focus on growth and knowledge is what directs us ahead. If we resist change, and teach ourselves resistance we narrow our focus, we limit ourselves. You have heard so many tell you that life is about the journey, not about the destination, and that is the truth. Sometimes we get caught up in what we want to achieve, what we want to build, but we lose sight of everyday. Experiencing every moment, every person, stopping and smelling the roses as they say, that is key.

Believing in yourself, forgiveness, providing second chances, each of these acts provide us with growth and knowledge. Our attitude that we take on life with, is in turn what life will bring to us. We do have control of our lives and our situations in most cases, it is up to us to try for positive steps and direction in life. With so much information in this world we have to share it, we have to inspire each other, we have to find a way to make a difference. Learning how to overcome fear, grasping control, fighting for your dreams is all tied to being open to growth, and knowledge.

Appreciate everyone you have in your life, everyone who has touched your life, your knowledge, everyone who has shaped you to be who you are. Be humble, learn to help others, be the friend you want to have. Be grateful for what you have, sharing as much as you can, in every way you can. Value everyone, be kind, be strong. Take life as a classroom, learn from each day, embrace change, learn the lessons that present themselves in the form of mistakes, and listen when others talk, experience is a great teacher, open your mind, grow.