Monthly Archives: June 2016

Giving up…

Published / by Tim / 1 Comment on Giving up…

When it comes to “giving up” the first thing I think is, it’s a quitters phrase. I was raised, like many of us were, are, or will be, thinking that quitting is BAD. It’s a societal thing. Quitting is frowned upon.

When I think of giving up I initially think of defeat. Someone beaten down who can no longer muster the courage to stand back up. It’s a melancholy state of being. But then… I have to think a little more.

Giving up. Is it ALWAYS bad? Is giving up cowardly? Is giving up weakness? After the initial thoughts fade I consider some of the following:

Giving up cigarettes, booze or other chemicals that have garnered too much control in our lives. Giving up on relationships that are, one-sided, controlling, abusive. Giving up on a job that is a sad compromise at best. Giving up on habits like overeating, gambling, and watching porn that can be pretty destructive. Giving up on trying to accumulate things instead of living abundantly.

All of these require courage, commitment to an ideal, a plan, support and time. The outcome for any of these give ups will likely be a more fulfilling and pleasant life which isn’t a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I think if we could see the good outcome in advance, clearly, we would be less inclined to have fear around giving up.

I think one of the biggest problems is when we allow others perceptions of us shape how we think, act and feel. If we worry how people will think of us if we give up, we will likely never be free of that trouble.

Others perceptions play a huge role when one has to admit to being an alcoholic or long-term drug user. It’s scary to out the skeletons from the closet of a lifetime of living with an abusive partner. No one wants to be considered an addict. It’s hard to admit when the job one has worked a lifetime to keep has really been a source of pain and displeasure. We all end up wanting to save face.

My struggle is beer. I am not an alcoholic, but beer plays a pretty significant role in many of my social situations. I like to brew beer. I think I’m pretty good at it.  I have MANY friends with whom I associate around beer. They are great people. Love all of them. I worry though, if I make the decision to “give up” beer, we may not have anything to talk about and they may find me to be a bore, or a prude or a teetotaler, yet… when I don’t drink beer, I feel better, physically and mentally. It’s right there, I am ultimately worried about what they will think about me. And maybe, it doesn’t matter. If they are truly my friends, they will understand.

Giving up… maybe it’s ok.

It’s all going to work out, remember that.

Published / by Tim

There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long but now I think I’m able to carry on. It’s been a long, a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.

-Sam Cooke

Change. 25 years ago I was minding my business, graduating from high school, getting a part-time job, going to school and somehow I never stopped to think that everything I knew would be completely different just a few years later.

People I thought would be my lifelong friends found new, exciting and yet different paths than I was on. School changed the way I think. Marriage changed my identity. A career changed my course in life. Children changed my worldview. Age has changed my dreams. The changes are not all bad, gray hair and belly fat are not too great, admittedly, but I am healthy and comfortable and happy. Change has not done me in.

I think change gets a bad rap. Often people talk about how uncomfortable, painful, awful, icky, horrible change is. The thing is… It’s not the change that’s the problem. I think the transitions that compose change are what is difficult, uncomfortable, painful. Transitions are that period of time that I associate with growing pains. Remember growing pains? Those horrible, dull, throbbing pains that nothing really seemed to help. The pains that indicated that new heights would be achieved. We all love getting taller (change) but we would all just as soon avoid the growing pains (transitions).

Even when transitions aren’t painful, they take time. I am not a patient man. I do not like to wait. Sometimes all I really want is the change to happen. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to struggle. Exercise… yeah, you know where I’m going with that… Losing that last 5 pounds takes… FOREVER… or so it would seem.

Transitions are the difficulty of change and I have a Transitionfew things I’ve noticed help transitions go easier. First, mindset is key. If you let yourself be in a fixed mindset you will consciously and unconsciously fight change and ultimately extend the transition time. Mindset aimed at Growth (Thanks Carol Dweck) helps us embrace change and the difficult transition periods that occur when change happens. Dewitt Jones, national geographic photographer, says we should reshape problems into opportunities. I think that’s the mindset we need to adopt to best deal with transitions and change.

My other observation is that it is helpful to look for ways to promote change in the quickest way possible. If you start to feel like your job is not going so well, it might be a good idea to look for ways to begin transition on your own terms. Take a class. Network with people. Read the want ads… move in a direction that suits you, but don’t sit idly by and wait. Action is always better than reaction.

Finally, if you find yourself in a transition that is especially difficult, find someone you trust to support you. Share your story. loneliness breeds melancholy. A counselor or therapist may be just who you need to make sense of your transition. Sometimes a listening friend who has earned the right to hear your story can be a great help. Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong was a read that helped me think through this aspect of having trusted people in my life.

Change and the transitions that get us there are all gonna come. How we approach them can make all the difference.

Fortuitios circumstances…

Published / by Tim

Ever had one of those moments where it seemed like everything was going wrong, but as you inspect the situation, you realize that perhaps you were the beneficiary of a sort of protection?

I had a Wednesday post all ready to show up around 4 am today. It didn’t publish. It was my mistake. I was a little irked by the fact when I initially realized the post had not published. As I looked into the problem and realized my mistake I was even more perturbed. Then I reread the post and I didn’t like it. All of a sudden my angst turned to relief.

I want to work on this post a bit more. But I also want to acknowledge that sometimes bad or annoying things turn out to be good things after all.

Wednesday post coming soon to a Thursday or Friday for you…


What’s up with all the drama?

Published / by Tim

Isn’t it interesting how connected we are and yet how badly we often fail to communicate? Despite our iPhones, work groups, play dates, twitter feeds, message boards, snap chats… we mess up communication and relationships… constantly.

I’ve noticed that 80 percent of the unpleasant relational stuff I deal with on a day-to-day basis is linked in some way to poor or nonexistent communication. When I say “poor” communication I find that it is really  lazy communication or the conversation that dies without being fully explored or clarified. Instead we make assumptions.

Why is it when we make assumptions, we often assume only the worst, most negative about the person or topic or scenario? Is it easier? Is it more fun? Is the drama worth the trouble?

I am amazed at how often children and adults will create “drama” out of thin air and it almost always begins with assuming the worst about someone else, whether it is deserved or not. I don’t understand that.

Maybe it really IS all about the drama, the gossip, the juicy rumor. Maybe truth and kindness is just boring. If this weren’t true, it seems we wouldn’t go down the negative path so quickly. Something needs to change in our day-to-day communication patterns.

I am challenging myself to think differently about communication this week. I want to do the following:

  1. Close open loops. If I am thinking about what someone said, or didn’t say and it’s bothering me, I am going to ask for clarification. Open loops lead to assumptions.
  2. Assume the best. If I assume anything I am going to try to assume the best instead of the worst. A colleague walks by me in the hall without a greeting… I will assume they are very busy rather than assume they are being a jerk.
  3. Ask questions. If I don’t understand something. I will ask. If I want something… I will ask. If I need something… I’ll ask. Worst that can happen is I’ll get a “no”.
  4. Restate what I hear. I think it’s a good practice to reiterate what you heard to clarify and eliminate misunderstandings.
  5. Avoid drama. Rumors and gossip must be avoided at all costs. Nothing good comes from these.

Communication is central to every relationship. Good communication leads to good and peaceful relationships, poor communication leads to broken and damaged relationships. We can each decide to take steps to be more clear and to understand better. Will you join me in giving it a shot? If you do, tell me in the comments how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.


Something beautiful.

Published / by Tim / 2 Comments on Something beautiful.

If you know me, you know I work with kids. Kids are lots of fun and sometimes they ask interesting questions. This week I was sitting with a youngster who was having some difficulty and we were problem solving the issue when he noticed my arms were all scraped up and that there were several red bumps with little scabs on them.

“What happened to your arm?” he asked as he pointed to an especially ugly little wound.

IMG_0570It’s that time of year when the roses are going gang busters and I, on the weekends, try to keep up with them. In the course of keeping the rose bushes happy and producing, I get pretty sliced up. A normal person would probably wear long sleeves and heavy gloves. Not me, I wear fairly light gloves and short sleeves for pruning duties. The thing I have discovered about roses is that when I do get pricked by a rose thorn, it often leaves an angry red welt and it bleeds so I have these little scabs on red bumps on my arms after especially aggressive pruning sessions.

The child was curious, he mentioned that it looked like I’d been stung by bees.

I told him the story of my roses and how I was pruning them and they were stickery and had poked me with their thorns several times.

“Why do you prune them?” he asked…

“To keep them looking beautiful.” I replied.

“So sometimes it hurts to keep things beautiful?” he sort of half asked half stated.

And I thought, how profound. It hurts to keep things beautiful. There is truth there, I think. Yes, there is pain associated with keeping my roses up. I love the roses and the pain is just part of the process. I don’t really think about it. I just have cuts and welts on my arms. But the roses that come from healthy, maintained bushes are worth the pain to me. The roses do nothing for me and yet I willingly get scratched up and bloodied for them.

How often do we do that in our every day lives? Relationships are like that I think. We often go to great lengths to maintain friendships, love relationships, marriages,  enduring pain to have something beautiful, a connection with another human being. For most people I imagine the pain is worth the outcome. The prize. The rose bloom.

I sometimes think that pain helps us appreciate the thing for which we suffer just a little more than we would otherwise. Pain is part of the investment in something beautiful.

One of my favorite researcher/authors, Brene Brown says this:

“Now I can lean into joy, even when it makes me feel tender and vulnerable. In fact, I expect tender and vulnerable. Joy is as thorny and sharp as any of the dark emotions. To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees—these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy.”

I agree. When we lose our tolerance for discomfort (pain) we lose joy. We lose the ability to see the beauty in the rose bush. I can lean into the pain, because the result… is something beautiful. In roses and in life.

What do you think?