LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “bravery”

Virtue #13-Courage

courage.jpg

http://www.productiveflourishing.com/12-ways-to-practice-courage/

I haven’t written a new post in some time. I’ve reblogged several because I felt they were in line with how I think and I wanted to give them as wide an audience as possible. The truth is if I reblogged every post I feel deserves a wider audience I would spend my day hitting the reblog button. Suffice it to say, many of you are incredible writers, capable of moving us readers heart and soul with your written words. My hat is off to all of you.

But now it is time to write about something that close to me heart. Also it is something I have struggled with, in one form or another, for most of my life.

Recently I have had several conversations with a young person who is working through some major changes in her life. She is seeking to know her True-self and also deal with several facets of her life that do not reflect the person she would like to be. In my discussions with her the word courage frequently comes up. And, of course that has gotten me to think about what courage is.

Let me begin by saying I believe there are two types of Courage: There is False Courage which masquerades as the Real Thing, but isn’t, and I’ll show why a little later. Then there is True Courage , which allows us to have the confidence to face (notice I didn’t say overcome, that is for another post) all our fears.

Much of what I see today is False Courage. False Courage looks outward. It is always dependent on external circumstances. False Courage will say, ” There is strength in numbers.” or “My best friend (insert significant other, kids, cow-workers, family members, team mates, you get the idea) and I will get this done (or work on this, or face it, or produce it).”  or “If X happens then I can…” What happens is we shift the focus off of ourselves. The end result is we drift off into acceptance, addictions, fantasies, or we become experts at helping others be courageous.

See if any of these statements ring a bell:

  • The world is filled with idiots.
  • If only I had ______________.
  • He, She, They let me down…again.
  • Circumstances just didn’t line up for me.
  • I will fake it until I make it.
  • God I hope this doesn’t blow up in my face.

This is how we can look like we have Courage. We can throw it out there as a great defense, but it is a lie. It is a cheap imitation. It keeps us from being truly Strong, truly Better, and truly Ready For Whatever.

False Courage spends it’s web by convincing everyone else we have reached a harmonious state of togetherness. But when that carefully constructed bubble gets pierced by an event, or an incident, or a person that provokes our questions and/or fears, then our carefully constructed world falls apart. In essence we lose it. That is when the same old life sucking, soul destroying insecurities raise their little gnarly heads and we are back to mush. It is because we never had the Real Thing. We didn’t have True Courage.

True Courage is an entirely different beast. True Courage is a trust in ourselves and it’s focus is inward.

Look at these qualities and see how different they are:

  • We become inspired by openness.
  • We listen to and obey that still, small voice within us.
  • We are ready to go to stand strong…and accept the consequences.
  • Our faith is increased.
  • We will bend, but we are no longer willing to break.

True Courage gets foundational. By that I mean it penetrates into the roots of who you are. True Courage is, as they say, a game changer. It can alter your life and your world. You can go deeper, climb higher, and most importantly, be more you.

Susie and I live in a log home, up a lane from a road that is only 1 1/2 miles long. We have a few acres and our home sits on a hillside in the middle of those acres. We have a small wood stove in the kitchen/dining area and a large fireplace in the living room. We enjoy the added warmth of a wood fire, so throughout the cooler colder portions of the year we usually have a fire going in at least one of them. To start a fire we take a small piece of split wood and using a hatchet we hone off a few fine, curly shavings. Those little wispy pieces bare faint resemblance to the log we sawed up and split earlier in the season. We roll the shavings up into a loose ball and lay it on the fire grate, then we add several twigs, finishing it off with several small branches slightly larger than a couple of fingers. As we light the shavings, we blow ever so gently on their soft glow until a small flame erupts. Shortly the kindling ignites and we begin to place larger pieces of split wood on the grate until we have a roaring fire.

http://www.thechimneydoctors.com/

What you have at this moment is a few fine shavings with the fire starter applied. What I want you to do in the form of life-actions, is work gently with this kindling until a small flame erupts, Nurse and nourish that flame by adding the right size material until a roaring and consuming fire develops. Don’t add more than your fire is ready for. Too big of a log will extinguish the flame because there isn’t enough heat intensity to catch the lager piece a blaze. Take on more than your ready for and the fie burning within you will struggle. Be patient, let time work for you. Choose your battles and be wise, but always, always, always feed your fire.

Be encouraged!

A Few Words About Risk

https://www.twu.edu/rm/

Recently I had been thinking about risk. It isn’t a subject we hear much about anymore, unless your money is in hedge funds or your future is inexplicably tied to Greek futures. If either is the case, then you are living with risk every nanosecond of the day, but for the rest of us it is a subject that rarely comes up.

In fact, we have reduced risk in our lives to the point where it is nearly negligible. Our vehicles have lights, buzzers, safety belts, GPS units, and in the new Cadillacs an option that allows the driver’s seat to vibrate if you get too near an object. Smoke alarms, radon gas detectors, and alarm systems that can alert our cell phones if any unauthorized person tries to enter further reduce our risk to exposure. OSHA and others have been diligent in assuring the American worker they can perform their assignments without the fear of bodily injury.

Socially we’ve done what we can to reduce risk in a myriad of ways. There are books, DVDs, and seminars to help us eliminate the risk of bad relationships. Dating services have intricate questionnaires to assure the success (and thus reducing risk) of those seeking a life companion.

In sports rules have been tightened, scrutinized, and re-evaluated to reduce risk to the participants, and in some sports even to the spectators.

Up and down the continuum we have striven to eliminate every aspect of risk. Which for the most part is not a bad thing. As the driver of a 3,000 pound piece of steel down the highway, with my Grandson in his safety seat with a seat belt across him, I’m all for reducing his risk. Same way with my home, which is made out of logs, so I’m all for smoke alarms. As a cyclist I love that I can reduce my risk of a serious head injury by wearing a helmet that is specifically designed to withstand blunt force trauma and thus help me keep what few functioning brain cells I still have.

Now all of these efforts are good and I’m not suggesting for a moment that we take away any of the safety devices and laws that we have in place to protect us. But I wonder if there is not some unintended fallout. Something that in our focused concentration we did not think about. Could it be that we have curtailed a part of us that needs risk? Something within us that needs to push the envelope of what is possible.  The part of us that wants needs to live on the edge. I know when I ran across the United states I felt something deep within me. If I were a better writer I would be able to describe it. It was an excitement, like a live wire with a enough electricity running through it to juice you silly. I awoke with it in the morning and fell asleep with it in the evening.

Now that I am constructing a new company I feel it again. The act of taking an idea that was birthed while we sat on the hoods of our cars in a parking lot and talked about what would be the perfect company and then creating and developing the concept into reality brings out the feeling again. The feeling of risk. Of working without a net. If it works, it works big. If it fails, it fails big.

Perhaps it is time we let a little risk creep back into our lives. I’m not advocating a wild run amok, pitfalls be damned type of behavior. We don’t need any more hurt and pain, of any type, in the world. But maybe we do need a little risk, a little abandonment, a little willingness to loosen the reins, a little less scripted life.

Just be careful.

Be encouraged!

Beliefs & Behavior

A friend of mine Susan Vannice, who is the Pastor of Tree of Life Fellowship, posted this on Facebook.

I write and talk a lot about beliefs, but it is important to remember if we do not put those beliefs into action then they are little more than window dressing to impress our family, friends, and co-workers.

But I’m also curious about another aspect of this…can our behavior be independent of our beliefs? If our behavior falls short of what we believe, then do we really believe? Or is this a place where that tension exists that I wrote about in a reply to someone a few days ago? The tension I am referring to isn’t related to stress. This is the tension that exists in how we live our lives. If we lean too far one way then we tend to run off track, same results if we get too carried away going the opposite direction. The ideal sweet spot is when we are able to occupy the middle way.

I know what I believe…and I am comfortable with that. But I also know my behavior falls far short at times of optimizing how I think. In fact, most of my life I have known one way, but lived something far removed from it. Only over the last two decades have made a considerable effort to close the gap.

But there is still a gap.

So maybe this is what grace is all about. When we and those around us fall short of our stated beliefs, then perhaps this is an opportunity for us to exercise forgiveness and compassion. Realizing that none of us are perfect and all we really need to do in life is get up one more time than we fall down.

Today let us try to exercise some grace.

Be encouraged!

Honor and Courage

http://philosophy.sean.tripod.com/id17.htm

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor”

-Aristotle-

I was wondering how much different our world would be if we were to live our lives according to a few simple ideas. None of them would require advanced degrees or an internship, although there is nothing wrong with either. We wouldn’t have to get financing or alter our work schedules. It wouldn’t cut into our private time, nor alter our choices of hobbies.

But it would require some honor and courage.

Be encouraged!

Time Is On My Side

http://www.bowdoindailysun.com

Time is on my side, yes it is.

Time is on my side, yes it is.

(Time Is On My Side by Jimmy Norman and made famous by The Rolling Stones)

Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units. It traditionally has taken two different forms. The first being the calendar and the second form being represented by the clock. For the purpose of this post we will be focusing on the clock.

The clock has never been my favorite unit of measurement for time. Probably due to the fact that in the past I was late for everything. Years ago I learned a trick for defeating this deficit in my character make-up. I began to set my watch ten minutes ahead. Although in my mind I understood what I had done, the reality was if I looked at my watch and discovered it was time for me to be somewhere I would immediately begin to move heaven and earth to get there. Of course, I still had ten minutes, but my mind would overlook reality and simply begin issuing commands as if I were late. Later, I turned all the clocks in my home ten minutes fast and have eliminated my lateness. Susie is not particularly fond of this method of brainwashing, but after twenty years she has adapted. Only rarely now does she ask, “What time is it in the real world?” In the interest of full disclosure, one night while she was sleeping I got up, tipped toed around to her side of the bed, and set her watch ten minutes fast as well.

Back in 1977 two social psychologists, Dan Barton and John Darley from Princeton University, set about conducting an interesting experiment involving the interpretation of time. They approached Princeton seminary students who were preparing a speech on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Each student was told either: A) He is late, that he was actually expected in the lecture hall a few minutes ago, and that his instructors are waiting for him. or B) He has plenty of time, but might as well start to go over now.

As each student headed to the lecture hall he passes a person slumped over and coughing profusely, obviously in need of assistance. Of course, the person is an accomplice of the researchers. With no one else nearby the seminary students are confronted with a decision. While going to give a speech about the Good Samaritan, who stopped to deliver aid to a hurting individual when no one else would, do they stop to help or do they go on to their lecture. The only difference in the two groups is the time pressure. One group believes they are late, the other thinks they have plenty of time.

The majority of those who believed they had plenty of time stopped to render assistance. Of those who believed they were running late 90% failed to stop.  All students involved admitted they saw the individual slumped over and understood he needed help.

Allow yourself to slow down and look around. Are there people in your family, your work place, and/or your group of friends who might be “slumped over” and in need of help? Are we missing anything? Could someone we know be telegraphing pain, hurt, stress, worry, and/or fear and we are missing it? Reduce our speed, quiet our thoughts, and remove the blinders from our eyes and take a closer inspection of those we interact with on a daily basis.

Let me know what you find.

Be encouraged!

Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units.

Politics

I am not one who enjoys proclaiming his political views. I know there are those who find it fascinating and God bless them, but I am not of their ilk. I have my opinions and for the most part I prefer to keep them to myself. Airing my thoughts in public I find to be counter-productive to what I hope to accomplish in bringing people together in peace. Politicians no longer (if they ever did) speak for me I don’t find comfort in either the right or the left. There are elements of both I like and a good deal more that I don’t.

But while I was playing catch up  after a weekend of interviewing acrobats, fire eaters, sword swallowers, glass eaters, contortionists, unicyclists, trapeze artists,  and a couple of other unique performers (trust me this is a whole series of posts in and of itself) I came across Terri’s blog at http://terri0729.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/mondays-military-honors/. The snapshot above was one of many about those who serve in the military for our country. My official disclaimer is I am somewhat biased in my opinion regarding the military. In my youth I was a hippie and not inclined to be supportive of those who served, but life often has ways of turning a person’s thinking around. Our youngest son is career Army and there is not a prouder parent in the United States than this old hippie.

Take a moment to think about this information. Perhaps there are some things that should drive us into the streets, waving our placards again.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #8–Caring

http://www.uexpressit.com/character_education.htm

This afternoon before leaving to come to the office I kissed my wife good-bye. I always make sure I kiss her good-bye. It is something I started early in our relationship. You never know what a day is going to hold, so I make sure I kiss her and tell her I love her before departing our home.

As I turned to leave I heard her voice soft and low asking, “Are we on the same page?”

Susie and I don’t have any big issues, but occasionally little, niggling, side line ripples will develop that need attention. Fortunately that was not the case this morning. In my mind I was already sitting in front of my computer, writing my heart out, and trying to take the twisted, convoluted spaghetti mess that passes for congruent thought in my mind, and turn it into brilliant prose that not only dazzles your receptors dear reader, but also sparks you to change the world as we know it, into the world that we want.

In other words I was distracted.

Susie did not ask because she was afraid our relationship would fall apart if she didn’t. She wanted to make sure she hadn’t missed anything, because she cares. As I drove down the drive it made me feel closer to her, loved, and as I turned onto the road that would bring to the office I had tears in my eyes.

And that got me to thinking.

John Wooden, the well-known UCLA basket ball coach who led his team to an unbelievable 10 national titles once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you”.

Lao Tzu, philosopher of ancient China, best known for writing Tao Te Ching, and often called the Father of Taoism is quoted as saying, “From caring comes courage.”

 The Spanish cellist and conductor, Pablo Casals, who lived from 1876 to 1973 said, “I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.”

Our American statesman Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Want of care has done us more damage than want of knowledge.”

Caring is an essential part of us. No doubt it is important to those on the receiving end…because often it comes out of nowhere. I know I loved having Susie inquire if we were okay, but I suspect it moved something inside of her to an even greater degree.  I am the person who has been joined to her. Together we make one, in a way I can’t explain. I know it, I feel it, I live it, and I share it, but I can’t put it into words. This afternoon as I watched her turn away to go back into our home I could see the edge of her lips lift up in a smile. Her head turned upward, just a bit. Her shoulders pulled back only a smidgen. Her height grew by a hair, but her heart, I knew, exploded in a sun lit explosion of warmth.

I suspect it is more important to the giver. Maybe it makes us different inside. I believe it changes us just a little bit for the better with each act of caring. Caring creates more caring and that can only be a good thing.

Take a moment after you read this and spread a little care. It might not make the evening news but I bet it registers in your heart. Don’t be afraid, worried, or anxious. Don’t try to make it special. Anything will do.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #7–Bravery

http://inkandstardust.deviantart.com/art/Bravery-288324911

Bravery is an odd thing. It has several different qualities. There is the bravery that results in one of these:

 

http://www.history.army.mil/moh.html

This is the Congressional Medal of Honor and you don’t get these by taking the easy way out. The medal comes at a cost. A cost many of us would find to high to personally pay, but not all do. Those who have been awarded this medal all have one thing in common; none of them set out to get it, it was never a goal.  To be a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor you need to be a member of the United States Armed Forces. Right there I am ruled out, but it gets much tougher from there.

An individual must partake in “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty, while engaged in an action against the enemy of the United States.” That pretty much eliminates the rest of us.

Since its inception by Congress on July 12, 1862, 3,462 individuals have been recipients. Since we are zeroing in on nearly 50 million having served our nation since 1776 that means that less than .0007% of those who have been in the military have received this award.

Of course, there are many other types of bravery. I found this poem at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100403132515AAPqb7J

It Takes Courage

by Anonymous

It takes Courage

To refrain from gossip

When others delight in it,

To stand up for the absent person

Who is being abused.

It takes Courage

To live honestly

Within your means,

And not dishonestly

On the means of others

It takes Courage

To be a REAL man or a TRUE woman,

To hold fast to your ideals

When it causes you

To be looked upon

As strange and peculiar

It takes Courage

To be talked about

And remain silent,

When a word would justify you

In the eyes of others,

But which you dare not speak

Because it would injure another.

It takes Courage

To refuse to do something

That is wrong,

Although everyone else

May be doing it,

With attitudes as carefree

As a summer song.

It takes Courage

To live according

To your own convictions,

To deny yourself

What you cannot afford

To love your neighbor

As yourself.

I am not going to write anything about this poem, because I believe it stands alone. I wish the individual who wrote it would have attached their name…but after reading it, it doesn’t surprise me they chose not to.

One last thing I want to say about bravery. There are men and women, who through no fault of their own, are raising their children in single parent homes. If you are one of these individuals I commend you. Personally I don’t how you do it, but I am extraordinarily proud of you. To me you are as brave as the ones facing enemy fire. Not because of the element of danger involved, but due to the inward strength it requires each and every day to get up and do all the those things that need to be done. You your children ready for school, their hands and faces are washed, their hair brushed, you get something resembling breakfast into them, somehow during the midst of all of this you have gotten yourself ready for work. Then either off to the bus stop or you drive them to school. Next is getting yourself through  morning rush hour traffic to work on time, where you are expected to perform at a high or higher level than others. No bringing home issues to work, this is business. You already have arranged for day-care after work. So you pick up your little one(s) and then home to cook dinner, do homework, play with toys, get bathes, read a book, put to bed (whole books could/have been written about that one), get their clothes ready for tomorrow, and now it is finally your time, except it is late, you are bone tired, and tomorrow you get to do it all over again. Somehow you do all of this and still try to instill virtues into your children. You teach them right from wrong. You want them to be creative. You want a better life for life for them.

You are the brave ones. I see you in the parking lot at the grocery store. I see you at little league games. I see you at school functions. You are everywhere. I want you to know I am proud of you.

Be encouraged!

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