“Personal accountability requires mindfulness, acceptance, honesty, and courage.”
I think when accountability comes from the expression of our true self, it is something we can value and be proud of. I say this because sometimes, we let our emotions or assumptions lead the way, and we don’t stop to think about the consequences of our actions. I guess, in a sense, we are accountable for everything we think, do, and say. In other words, I’m accountable for the way others perceive the things I do, say, and how I act, so I want to make sure I am expressing my truth. That truth comes from the values I live by. But I have to practice those values. I have to trust and believe in myself. I need the courage to face the conflict my actions might create and the faith to pray for guidance.
Reflection: God grant me the serenity to be accountable for my actions, the courage to step up when I am wrong, and the wisdom to lead from a place of my truth and not my emotions or assumptions.
What if, instead of tolerating each other’s differences, we tried instead to embrace them?
My reading today is about respecting our differences, and I wanted to share a story the author Rev. Dr. Ron Fox, told: He says, “I read a story about an old African American man who was quite religious and applied for membership in an exclusive church. The pastor tried to put him off. The old man, aware he was not wanted, said he would pray on it. Several days later, he came back, and the pastor asked, “Well, did the Lord give you a message?” The man replied, “Yes, he told me he’s been trying to get into the same church himself for the past ten years, and he still can’t make it.”
What if, instead of tolerating each other’s differences, we tried instead to embrace them?
I was sitting at a neighborhood party, and one of the neighbors was talking about a pow-wow she and her husband went to. She was showing me pictures of the headdress and custom they both made. When I hear the word pow-wow, I think American Indians, so I assumed she was part of the Indian heritage and asked her what tribe she belonged to. She was offended by my question and said, what did it matter? We are all Americans. I didn’t mean to offend her and felt a bit put off by her defensiveness. I was genuinely interested in what she was telling me and the culture behind it. I felt as if I was going a step further than tolerating our differences. I wanted to embrace what I didn’t understanding. How can we embrace our differences if we aren’t willing to share what our difference has to offer?
Reflection: It’s amazing when you think about how diverse our very own neighborhoods have become. We have black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and gay. We have our very own melting pot going on right outside our front doors. It’s an excellent opportunity to start embracing and breaking what divides us.
Confident “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
Confident “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” ~Brene Brown
Did you know that having confidence is a feeling, not a characteristic? We often say that person has a lot of confidence, and that’s because the person we are referring to seems to feel comfortable in their own skin. The keyword being “feels.”
Our confidence is built on the foundation of our personal values. It all ties together with being true to ourselves. My confidence becomes lacking when I go against myself and the things I value the most. Or when I find myself trying to be like someone else.
While I believe I have always had a sense of my values working in the background of my life, embracing those values has been a lifetime work in progress. I can say without embarrassment that I like who I am and what being me has to add to the equation of life. It gives me the feeling of confidence to keep being me. That’s a good feeling, and to keep that confidence on the up, and up, I need to keep being true to myself, my beliefs, and my values.
Reflection: Every day is a chance to check in with me and build upon my confidence. If I’m feeling uncomfortable with my life, it’s a sure sign I’m letting stuff get in the way of my true self, and it’s time to re-evaluate the direction I’m going.
“Music is a great blessing. It has the power to elevate and liberate us. It sets people free to dream. It can unite us to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music.”
Yes, music is a blessing. It always added value to my life. However, I never took the time, like I am right now, to see the many areas of my life that music enhances. Music creates a social value, bringing people together, like this evening when we gather with friends at Nisslelys vineyard to share the sounds of the ’60s, drinking wine, and dancing, which also makes an entertainment value. I don’t know about you, but music has a functioning value that gives me a boost of energy that gets me moving in ways I thought I couldn’t. Best of all, music helps bring me out of the hole of depression, stress, and anxiety. It’s a valued therapy that doesn’t ask questions but goes to the heart and soul of our emotions. Music seems to understand us when no one else does. My daughter Teri often talks about how she comes home from a stressful day at work, puts her headphones on, and dances around the kitchen, releasing all that pent-up frustration.
Music helps me do the things I don’t want to do, like cleaning. It also enhances things like cooking. I picture my son-in-law, Darrell, who sends everyone out of the kitchen, pours himself a glass of wine, turns his music on loud, and begins the dance of cooking. Is there anything better than a meal made to the sound of music?
Music is also known to help those with dementia and Alzheimers remember and communicate a little better. It’s also been known to comfort at the end of life, making the transition much more peaceful.
Reflection: These are only a few of the many musical values that bring quality to our lives. Perhaps I could leave you with an attachment to a song called, The Prayer of The Children. It’s a prayer sung in beautiful harmony by the band Three Dog Night. It was written 8-years ago, and it is just as profound today. Music is the song of prayer that comes from the soul.
Sometimes, I am doing so many different things at one time that I’m like a chicken with its head cut off, running around going nowhere. I need to find my head and screw it back on tightly to figure out how to be more efficient in the things I want and need to do.
I think the value of efficiency is the reward you get at the end of your accomplishment, more time, and self-satisfaction. But how do we become more efficient? It takes patience because, without it, impatience becomes the kryptonite that sabotages all our efforts. It takes planning, list-making, and organizing our projects.
Oy vey! It all sounds like so much work to do before I even begin the task at hand. I think it’s the hand’s fault for carrying everything I have to do from one room to another. Now all my projects overflow into every room in the house. “Where’s my stuff?” I ask the hands. And the hand says, “it got out of hand.” Oy vey! I need to screw my head on tighter and start using my God-given brain.
Reflection: I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to accomplishing what I want to do. And thinking like that is one of the biggest wastes of time. I know what works best for me is when I quiet my mind and get my thoughts centered with the mind of God. We are like a corporation in partnership together. It simplifies everything and creates a soul that works efficiently.
“I can do things you cannot, and you can do things I cannot; together, we can do great things.”
Yesterday as Tom and I sat listening to Three Dog Night in concert. The old songs from our youth brought to mind a time when we needed to come together much the same as we feel today. I remember those teen years of uncertainty with the Vietnam war, the civil rights movement, women’s rights, and good people being assassinated. It felt like a time of hopelessness. I said to my dad one day, “I wish I could curl up in a ball and disappear.” He told me life kind of goes around in a circular motion that way. Things get bad, and then we find our way out of the badness again, becoming stronger people for what we went through. I think now, many years later, that I’ve learned that anything worthwhile in life is worth holding onto and doing what we have to make it work.
A great example is my marriage to Tom. Our kids have often say, “you and dad are a hard act to follow.” But we remind them that what we have is not some lucky trick or magic. It starts with love but takes work, sacrifice, faith, honestly, and so much more. But it doesn’t feel as hard as it sounds because it’s worth everything we put into it.
Reflection: Hears a few words I put together from the song “Get together” by the Youngbloods: “Love is but a song to sing, fears the way we die. If you hear the song I sing, you will understand…(listen). You hold the key to love and fear, all in your trembling hand. Just one key unlocks them both; it’s there at your command. Come on, people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.”
Our beliefs are as personal and unique as we are. It’s easier to be around people who believe the same as we do. Conflicts and wars have been created between different beliefs. But what makes one belief better than the other? Who is to say what is right and what is wrong? The Bible, which is believed to be the word of God, says, “It is done onto you as you believe.” Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your character. Your character becomes your destiny.”
We become what we believe. But what happens if we open the door that leads us to a different perspective on our beliefs? Beliefs can hold us back from learning more or leave us open to a deeper understanding. I don’t believe that the word of God begins and ends with the Bible. It’s only the beginning of what God has to reveal. That’s my belief, and it’s opened many doors of spiritual growth for me. My faith has grown because I stopped believing in the fear that held me back. I don’t fear because I turn to the spirit of God that directs me toward the better good for myself and what I can do for others. Love is my compass, and the things I value are my foundation. That’s the power of belief; it can hold us tightly in place or set us free to discover what life has to teach us.
Reflection: I am who I am because of what I believe, but I am grateful for an open heart that allows me to respect the differences I have between others. I have lots of different people in my life, and each adds another element of quilty that challenges my beliefs and helps me keeps them in check.
“I can do anything through God who strengthens me.”
I have a book thong I keep in my daily reader. It lies between the pages with a charm that dangles beneath the spine. It reads, “I choose strength.”
I’m not talking about the survival of the fittest kind of strength. I’m talking about the type of inner strength we need to get through our day, both mentally and physically. As I researched the value of strength, I came across a site called * Lead Through Strength, which uses a pyramid showing strength on top, natural talents in the middle, and values at the bottom. See, our strengths sit on top of our natural talents, which express how we think, feel and act. But it’s the foundation of our values that represent our deepest beliefs that express the strengths we possess.
Expressing our strengths is not as easy as listing off our weaknesses. We find it easier to put ourselves down than lift ourselves up. Today I needed that lift to get me going, so thinking about my values like trust, faith, love, and truth. I was able to turn to my strengths, but my own strength is nothing compared to what I can do when I add God to the equation.
Reflection: Every day, when I turn to God in every way, I’m filled with strength to make my journey that leads to the path of goodness along the way.
“The first step to receiving an answer is being brave enough to ask a question.
I used to have a fear of being called on in class. I can remember the burning desire to raise my hand and ask a question, but I feared my question would be stupid and that the kids in class would make fun of me. It wasn’t until later in my early 20’s that I understood what Ramon Bautista meant in his quote when he said, “The only stupid question is the one that’s never asked.” I think the inconsistency of an interrupted education created by going to several different schools interfered with the natural flow of my learning. But that hunger to learn has never ceased, and I love the discovery that questions have to offer. One question seems to always lead to another, like the child asking why after each answer. I love learning.
As I do my research on this subject, I find several categories of questions:
-Breaking the ice, getting to know you question: Are you from this area?
-Random questions: If you had 3-wishes, what would they be?
-let’s see how well you know me: What am I passionate about?
-Truth or dare questions: How many people have you kissed?
-Dumbest questions: Did the cow really jump over the moon?
-Research questions: Such as what year your ancestors came to America.
The list of actual questions goes on and on. If you are ever looking for good ways to get to know each other, google search for questions. It doesn’t matter if your question is silly, informative, knowledgable, or curious; inquiry minds want to know the answers.
Reflection: My days are filled with questions from when I wake up until I go to bed. What am I going to do today? And at the end of the day, am I happy with what I got done? Questions are the exercise of my brain, and they make me feel like I’m participating in the wonder of life.
Mr. Rogers once said, “I believe appreciation is a holy thing— that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating, our neighbors were participating in something sacred.”
Appreciation in and of itself is a way of showing someone else a sense of their own value. Even the people who rub us the wrong way have a sweet spot; it’s just a little harder to find when all we look at are the sour parts. That’s when the opportunity for appreciation opens up into a holy thing where we can decide to see another not through our own eyes but the sacredness of God’s insight.
Reflection: I am feeling so blessed with the family and friends I have in my life today. I love you all. You make me feel valued, loved, and accepted for who I am and what I have to offer. Thank you for being a part of my life.