For many years I was unaware of the emotions, attitudes and rationalizations that drove my negative, addictive and hurtful behavior. One day I came to the realization life would never change for the better until I changed for the better. Only by taking responsibility for the thought patterns that drove my behavior did I overcome my excuses for continuing hurtful, ego-driven and unproductive action.
Recently a man came to my door canvassing for a local politician who is running for state assembly. He spoke for a few minutes about the candidate’s qualifications and handed me a flyer. He asked if he could tell his candidate that he has my vote. I told him I wanted to investigate the man further, to do my own research, so I can make the most informed decision. He then began to bad mouth his candidate’s opponent. At that point I politely but firmly said, “Thank you for stopping by but I believe one of the most important things we must all work toward, whether it is in politics or in everyday life, is to deal with our differences by responsibly striving to reach common ground through behaving in courteous and respectful ways rather than stooping to tearing one another down.”
We are doing ourselves and our society a great disservice by allowing trash-talking as normal with the egocentric rationalizations of ‘everyone is doing it or this is just the way things are done. It does not feel good to be on the receiving end of or to listen to it, and it causes us to lose focus on the issues ultimately impacting us all.
Honestly, is condoning this type behavior as normal the legacy we want to leave our children? Not if we want them to live in a better world than we are. We are ones who must demand that tearing others apart who we disagree with or who we want to beat at something, stop. We are strongest as individuals and as societies when we support one another in striving to be people of the best character possible – respectful, courteous, honest, supportive, cooperative, responsible, etc.
Imagine how the world will change for the better when all of us who are followers of any faith or higher belief system join together to treat others as we want to be treated. Imagine how much better we will feel about ourselves and others. Imagine how we will all begin to heal when we take the negative put-downs, tear-downs and trash-talk out of our conversations.
Within your human form is a wise, loving and healing energy. No matter what you experience in life, you can heal, you can overcome a negative past, you can forgive the actions of others, and your actions, to live in peace with the present. Allowing the strength of soul to be your guide prevents unnecessary suffering and strengthens your ability to successfully face and overcome any challenge.
I trust, like me, you are repulsed by the stagnation and business as usual nastiness within our political system and the election process. I hope you are exasperated by the futility of stubbornly continuing down the same road of two-party divisiveness while expecting unified results. I imagine your sensibilities are offended by repulsive remarks as candidates full of a foolish amount of pride attempt to distract us from their clear lack of dignity and ability to propose tangible and cooperative solutions to the issues we face.
Whether in business, relationships, or resolving our differences, you and I create the most success and fulfillment by regulating ourselves with the principles of heart. We listen to one another to understand and work to achieve positive associations based on respect and team-work. The same is true for fashioning an effective democracy. Without valuing responsibility, solidarity, honesty, and respect, politicians and citizens can easily fall victim to a combative, self-interested, standstill.
Therefore, you and I as citizens have the responsibility to do everything within our power to make certain we do not elect bullies, liars, thieves, and casters of blame. We must reject those who shun personal responsibility, ego-box for sport, and avoid coming to the table with feasible solutions to the issues we face. We must refuse to side with anyone who is comfortable with Washington’s misuse of power, dissention, and its reward of rulers.
To change our nation we must identify and support honorable men and women of personal morality and integrity who encourage principled excellence among their colleagues and constituents. They engage in inclusive dialogue and work to establish cooperative relationships for all stakeholders including those who are least privileged. They appreciate the importance of having a big picture view to design long-term plans of tangible strategic action to achieve shared goals. And, they self-reflect to improve, to assume responsibility for their actions, and to maintain as great a level of operating transparency as possible.
President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What we voters can do for our country is be political, by caring to elect qualified candidates who have respectfully and with integrity shown us their principled heart.
What does “I love you” mean to you? Have you ever stopped to really think about it? Until I did think about it, I said “I love you” without really knowing the depth of emotional responsibility associated with those three words. Love is caring and affection so “I love you,” means we cherish the person on the receiving end of our fondness. And, to feel real I learned “I love you,” needs to be backed up with consistent positive action.
It has been hard watching our beloved Celine Dion suffer over the death of her husband of 21 years, Rene Angelil, followed two days later by the death of her brother Daniel Dion. We empathize with her loss because we too have experienced the death of loved ones. Many of us don’t think of preparing to pass away, but we should. Rene Angelil did prepare, leaving Celine and the children with all his affairs in order as a final act of love for them.
To truly love another is to do everything within our power to prevent what suffering we can beforehand. We don’t allow our thoughts to create the fantasy it won’t happen to us. Yes, someday, something will happen to us. Loving others means we have the responsibility to tend to the business side of love to prevent those we care for uncalled-for misery.
I don’t know the legal requirements for the country in which you live so please do your own research to be prepared to help prevent your loved ones additional heartbreak. I am familiar with what steps you can take as residents of the United States.
1. Create what is called a “last will and testament” – a document stating your final wishes, what you want done with your property, house, car, belongings, pets, etc. You can write a will yourself, or you can hire a lawyer to write one for you. If you write one yourself, you’ll want to find a good will template, available on the internet, to help you. Make sure to include a guardian for your children. If you have children with special needs consult an attorney.
2. Decide who will pay your bills, deposit checks, manage your financial affairs, and your business if you have one. This can be done through giving someone what is called “durable power of attorney.” Choose a trustworthy and honest person to manage your affairs if you become sick and unable to do so yourself. The form to legally name a durable power of attorney is also available online.
3. Create an “advanced-care directive,” or what is called a “living will” that gives someone you totally trust the medical power of attorney to carry out your wishes about medical treatment at the end of life. This is a very important document to have in place. Your husband, wife or partner may clearly know your wishes but your parents can block them from carrying out your wishes if you do not have an advanced care directive in place. These forms are also available online.
4. Plan your funeral or memorial service and how you want your body disposed of. Don’t just leave it up to those you love to figure it out after you’re gone. It is hard enough to go through the death of a loved one without the additional stress of them trying to figure out what you want. Write a letter of instruction for your loved ones to follow.
5. Consider purchasing Term Life Insurance to help make sure your spouse, partner, and children have financial support after you pass away. Think about how much they will need to pay off a mortgage, car note, outstanding credit cards, and funeral and burial expenses. Also consider future education expenses for children. Look into this online to find a policy with a reputable company that will provide you peace of mind should your family need this type of financial support. The younger you are the less expensive Term life insurance is.
6. Further help your loved ones by keeping a folder or safe deposit boxwith important papers such as a marriage license, divorce papers, authorization to release health care information, vehicle titles, property deeds, and life insurance policies. Make a passwords document with a list of bank accounts, location of safe deposit boxes, and any letters of instruction about your wishes for a funeral or life-celebration.
You cannot prevent the pain your loved ones will feel when you pass away. But you sure can take every action now to make certain their pain of loss is not compounded by your lack of being prepared. Today, begin taking action to help protect the heart of the people you care for. Your loved ones will truly appreciate you having the business side of love in order as a last gift of love to them.
I was thirteen when my father took me on a day trip to Austin. One of our stops was the floor of the Texas Senate, the upper house of the State Legislature. Maybe dad hoped the experience would ignite within me the desire to someday run for office. While I have not pursued a position in government, I did cultivate a deep appreciation for the integrity of those who truly desire to serve and for the ideals of democracy, and the important role I, and every citizen, play in its success.
I was around 50 years old when I got a tattoo. It’s an Om sign with a decorative band that goes all the way around my arm. You might laugh and say, what took you so long, Or, what’s the big deal? But, when I was growing up there was a stigma about people who had tattoos. To my parents and many people of their generation a tattoo meant I devalued myself and my body.
Back in my parent’s day there was a belief only criminals, bad biker dudes or drunk people got tattoos. So I did not take getting my tattoo lightly. I waited to get this until I was sure about my reasons for doing it. I wanted to be certain I was not getting it just to fit in or to be seen as cool or as some act of rebellion. I did not rush out on impulse. I was not drunk or stoned. This OM tattoo is a positive symbol that reminds me of my focus (to spread kindness, acceptance, peace and love). It also serves as a badge of honor signaling I successfully faced and overcame some very tough challenges in order to grow into the person I am today.
I learned part of my self-love and respect comes from being clear on my motivations for doing what I do so I carefully choose the statements I make about myself to the world. No matter our age, each of us can choose what we say about ourselves by how we present ourselves. And we can skip trends that may be popular with our peers or in certain areas of society but do not represent who we are.
For example, I feel some of us need to question why we wear our pants low with our underwear showing. This look began in prisons. It’s an urban legend that this look was a way for gay prisoners to look for sex. Check out Snopes to dispel that. This look was born out of the often too large prison issued clothing prisoners had to wear because in prison there are no belts. It makes sense your pants will be saggy and hang down if they are too big and you have no belt. But, this look took on a more sinister association when it moved from prisons to become linked with other segments of society that are considered negative.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all people who wear their pants like this are bad people who do bad things. No way. I know some young people who wear this look because they want to fit in and think it’s cool. I’m saying, to create our best life, we don’t just blindly follow the crowd because what some in the crowd do may not be comfortable for us.
While I’m not a fan of saggy pants and seeing people’s underwear, I’m just asking all of us to know why it is we do what we do. I think, just like posting a naked butt shot or a topless Spring break photo on Facebook might come back to haunt you when applying to college or that job you want, this look may get you into some hot water too.
In my over 50 years I’ve learned the happiest most fulfilling life is created by our taking intentional and thoughtful action. So, while I certainly encourage us to be ourselves, to express our individuality and to be creative, I also encourage us to be clear about the reasons we do what we do. To love ourselves we need to make sure how we express ourselves is a good fit with the kind of life we truly want. Not only for today, but for our tomorrow too.