How Are You Doing?

Recently, I received an email from a friend asking me about alternatives to the age-old-worn-out-daily-grind-rote-question, “How are you doing?”
 
What would be your alternative to this boring, unimaginative opening question?
 
Here are a few of my favorite “How are you doing?” alternatives:
 
What has your attention right now?  Why? Tell me more! (What has my attention is Dan Harris’ podcast, Ten Percent Happier)
 
What recent movie or TV series keeps popping up in your mind? Tell me more. (Top Gun Maverick and Ted Lasso for me!) 
 
You look important (or special) (or significant) (or unique)! Who dressed you today? (Tone of voice and quisical facial expression are important!) (My favorite clothes come from Orvis and Goodwill!)
 
That aura you are giving off is stunning! How do you do that? (My college psychology senior thesis studied how stimuli impacted an individual’s auras that showed up in Kirlian photos.)
 
May I ask you a deeply personal question? What is the last photo you took with your smartphone? Why? (Mine is of a bear while I was walking Dash this morning! See the picture in the beginning of this blog!)
 
I’m doing a survey. Where do you get your news? FOX News, MSNBC, or Comedy Central? Why? (I always hope it’s Comedy Central!)
 
What is your favorite drink during cocktail hour: Bourbon, wine, or sparkling water? Why? (Bourbon – either New Riff or Michter’s All American Whiskey)
 
Which is the most interesting city: New York, Paris, or Rome? Why? (For me, Paris, although New York keeps me interested. WAY too many crazy drivers in Rome!)
 
You have a chance to have dinner with just one of the following: David Brooks, Fran Lebowitz, Howard Stern, or Michelle Obama, who would it be? Why? (David Brooks would be across the table from me. I’d love to talk with him about his books, The Road to Character and The Second Mountain.)

How Can Darkness Cast Out Darkness?

We live in a time of darkness. That darkness is rooted in evil. The darkness seems overwhelming and feeds fear and breeds distrust.

Besides the epidemics of opioids and COVID, we are also experiencing the epidemics of un-democracy, denial, ignorance, and assault weapons – all are rooted in darkness and fed by fear and distrust. The desire to overcome this darkness is thwarted by Einstein’s definition of insanity – “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

On April 22, 1999, I flew out to Littleton, CO for business. Not far from my business dealing was the scene of, at that time, the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history at Columbine, H.S. The whole Denver area was a sea of grief and disbelief that this mass killing could come to be. Like the recent Uvalde, TX mass killing, police were criticized for their response. That mass killing lead to rapid action deployment against active shooters. School security increased dramatically nationwide. Conversations focused on parenting and violence in video games and movies. Debates began on gun laws, gun control, gun locks, gun owner background checks, and better-policing methods. Editorials spoke of making efforts to get a grip on this violence growing in our country.

Here we are 23 years later with no change, just more “thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families.” Since Columbine, over 311,000 children at 311 schools have been exposed to gun violence at their schools. We have failed to learn that “thoughts and prayers” are useless to dead children and the families left in grief. We are numb from the heartache. For those of us practicing Christianity and asking WWJD, we continue life as spiritual zombies. Commonsensical, holistic, modest, minimally coercive measures still have not gained traction. The secular gun lobby and the second amendment still hold us hostage to escalating mass killings.

Some facts to consider about the gun culture of the United States:

  • 123 people die each day due to bullets according to Pew Research.
  • Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 18 according to CDC.
  • The NRA is the #1 lobby group in the U.S. GOP members of Congress receive the lion’s share of the NRA funding.
  • There are three times more federally licensed gun dealers than there are Starbucks in the United States.
  • According to Pew Research, more guns have not equated to more security. Escalation of gun ownership has made U.S. society less safe. When guns are easy for good people to get, they also become easy for bad people to get.
  • After the Clinton Administration banned assault weapons in 1994, mass shooting deaths dropped by 43%. When the ban expired in 2004, mass shooting deaths shot up 239%.
  • The United States has just under 5% of the world’s population but owns 35% of civilian handguns which are estimated to be close to 400 million. It’s estimated over 20 million of those guns are AR15 types according to American Gun Facts.
  • The AR15 like the U.S. military M16 is a killing machine. Its sole purpose is to destroy a human life. If you want evidence of the destructive power of these weapons, watch CBS 60 Minutes – Why do mass shooters choose the AR-15 style rifle?

“Americans do not understand what these weapons (AR15) do to children’s bodies. They destroy them. That’s not hyperbole.” – John Woodrow Cox

Can you call yourself “pro-life” if you want to ban abortion but don’t want to ban assault rifles that have killed children?

This is what it has come down to:

“Dying in mass shootings is the price of freedom.” – Bill O’Reilly.

Switzerland, Canada, Japan, and over 150 other countries have freedom. They have citizens with mental illnesses. To pin the epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S. on mental illness when Switzerland, Canada, and Japan don’t have mass shootings is illogical and warped thinking.

“It’s impossible to reverse assault weapons in the United States.” – Anonymous

The United States has taken up impossible tasks before. Lewis and Clark didn’t know where they were going when they went exploring for the Northwest passage back in 1803, but they took up the challenge, fortified by courage and faith. It was thought to be impossible to put a man on the moon, but we came together and put a man on the moon in 1969. Could we not come together and do a “moon shot” against our gun culture?

I challenge each of us to look in the mirror and ask what each of us can do. Some suggestions:

Fear and distrust are at the heart of our gun culture. We use the 2nd amendment to hide our fear and distrust. Work on your fear and distrust. Study it. Seek support. Lean into your discomfort. Get out of your comfort zone.

If you own a gun, lock it up and keep it separate from the ammunition. If you know someone who owns a gun, ask them to do the same.

Let’s have some thoughtful conversations. Let’s be curious. Let’s explore. What about gun registration, gun insurance, and testing like we have automobiles?

How about higher taxes on guns and ammunition to help curb gun violence just like what the cigarette tax did for smoking?

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, it didn’t end racism, but it was a beginning to making the United States a more perfect union. It began to help overcome the darkness …

“For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”                                                                                                                                                   – Amanda Gorman

To Know the Past Is To Know the Present …

Potential coaching clients come to me with a problem or a desire to learn a new skill. In the initial session, we determine if I’m a good fit for them and what they would like to accomplish. If that shows promise, then the next session focuses on my knowing the individual’s history, including significant events, goals, values, places, people, failures, mistakes, and key learnings.

“To learn the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.” – Ibram Kendi

By learning about an individual’s past, I gain tremendous insight into where they are today in order to make changes in the future.

Many historians believe Lincoln to be the most significant U.S. President our country has ever had. To know Lincoln’s history gives one tremendous insight into Lincoln’s actions as President. Did you know Lincoln’s father beat him for reading? Lincoln’s father thought reading and learning were a sign of laziness! Did you know Lincoln was a riverboat pilot in his early twenties? He saw firsthand the injustice and inhumanity of slavery traveling the Mississippi River to New Orleans. That experience gave him insight into the need for good rivers and roads to help move commerce and help towns thrive. Did you know Lincoln’s moral courage and convictions outweighed his ambition? At 26 years of age, he was only one of six in the Illinois legislature at to vote to do away with slavery. Because of Lincoln’s upbringing, history, and experience, Lincoln stood for four central ideas: the creation of a national bank; protective tariffs (taxes); governmental support for internal improvements; and an expanded system of public education.

My friend, Tom Corbin, a sculptor, has been commissioned to create a larger-than-life-sized bronze of Harry Truman for the state of Missouri that will be placed at The U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall in the fall of 2022. Tom immersed himself in studying Truman. Tom shared that knowing Truman had helped him create the sculpture.

As a student of leadership, I study styles and models and read books from subject-matter experts on leadership. It’s Covey’s 5th habit, seek to understand before being understood. To know the person, their history, and their values is to better understand their behavior, beliefs, and vision for the future.

Could We Make Life Less Difficult For One Another?

What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other? – George Eliot, novelist, poet

After pondering Eliot’s quote, I’ve decided to add difficulty to my core values of compassion, justice, and humility.

The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself. – Thales of Miletus

Let’s admit, knowledge of ourselves is finite while ignorance of ourselves is infinite. Ultimately, one’s true-life journey is continuously working on knowing ourselves especially as we age, as our bodies change, as we encounter new relationships and new challenges. That is difficult. This requires self-awareness of one’s blind spots, biases, and triggers as well as our ignorance. Then there is the pain and suffering we experience including:

  • the loss of a loved one
  • being told you are no longer loved
  • the loss of a job
  • setbacks that include major health issues, rough upbringing, abusive relationships, bad choices, addictions
  • doing the right thing rather than the easy thing
  • failing at being emotionally intelligent
  • feeling fear that leads to ugly behavior, not changing bad habits, poor health, anger
  • shame that leads to feeling inferior or unworthy

Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. – Maya Angelou

I believe we make life less difficult for others when we begin making life less difficult for ourselves. Here is where you can begin that quest:

  • Do you have values? Do you live your values? Do you know what you stand for and what you don’t stand for?
  • Do you have goals and regularly take an account of where you are in achieving those goals?
  • Many of us say the most important things in our lives are our relationships with our significant others and our families, yet when we account for where we spend our time, does it support this?
  • How do you treat your body? Do you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night? Would losing weight make a difference in your life? Do you choose to take stairs rather than the elevator or escalator? Do you park a distance away from the front door so you have to walk? Do you get regular exercise including 10,000 steps/day? Is water your primary daily beverage?
  • When something seems amiss or goes wrong with your health and mental health, do you address it and seek help?
  • Are you intentional about making time to rest, relax and do nothing? Does doing nothing seem like a waste of time and make you anxious?
  • Do you love your work? Does your work love you? Do feel your work is of value and makes a difference in people’s lives?
  • How often do you get out of your comfort zone?
  • Can you build the plane while you are flying or are you a perfectionist and need the plane fully assembled, checked, and rechecked before flying?
  • Do you procrastinate and avoid getting things done that need to be done but are not enjoyable or of interest?
  • Are there people you can confide in, be vulnerable, share concerns, and get support?
  • Do you have hobbies and interests outside of work? Do you travel, visit museums, and challenge yourself with adventures?
  • When you encounter difficult times, are you able to remain hopeful?
  • How do you handle challenges? Do you see them as problems or opportunities?
  • When you fail or make a mistake, do you use it as a learning opportunity?
  • Do you live within your resources and means? Does money stress you out? Do you have a retirement plan? Do you have 6 months’ wages in savings in the event of an emergency?
  • Do you look for the good in others, especially those you disagree with?
  • Do you compare yourself to others?
  • Do you value having emotional intelligence over intellect?
  • Do others consider you trustworthy? What is your evidence?
  • Do you seek and value getting feedback from others on your relationship and leadership regularly? When someone shares uncomfortable feedback, do you become defensive or do you ask for more clarification and seek to understand?
  • How diverse are your relationships? Does everyone in your circle of relationships look like you, sound like you, believe as you do?
  • What is the status of your relationships with a boss, cohorts, and clients? Are they healthy, meaningful, cooperative, and collaborative?
  • Do others find you being interested or interesting – a better talker or a better listener?
  • Do you recognize conflict and work to deal with it effectively and in a healthy manner? Do you work to make your relationships with others psychologically safe?
  • Byron Katie writes: There is your business. There is everyone else’s business. There is God’s business. In what area of “business” do you spend most of your time?
  • Which is more important to you, being successful or being significant?
  • Do you believe you can live into a better version of yourself?

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. – Albert Einstein

Do you need a sherpa, a coach, an advisor to work through these questions and perhaps ask additional questions to help you create YOU2.0?  Contact me, David Carr, to explore the possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

Seize Da Who Dey…It Didn’t Happen!

Happy Valentines Day! Many of us would be happier this morning if the Bengals had beaten the Rams in Super Bowl LVI. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
 
CBS Sunday Morning, February 13, 2022, aired  The Agony of Defeat: Lessons From Football Fandom. I recommend watching this 10-minute video. It may help with difficult conversations we are having in politics.
 
As a Bengal fan, I wish Roger Goodell could have overturned the results of Super Bowl LVI. I wish the Bengals hadn’t conceded the results of the game, but that is not how the game is played. I accept the outcome of the game and know a new season begins September 8, 2022!

Are You Participating in the “Great Resignation”?

As a growing number of people are walking away from work positions, climbing down from the “corporate ladder,” acknowledging burnout, and having a hard look in the mirror, there seems to be a greater need to talk through possibilities.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity           – Dorothy Parker

Our identity is rooted in our patterns. The more we repeat a pattern, the more we strengthen our identity. How do you want to be identified? How do you want to be experienced by others? What patterns need to be challenged to create a better identity? Our patterns offer limited thinking. Coaching creates an opportunity to examine your current identity and see if transformation is necessary.

Those beliefs and assumptions impact our needs, including health, balance, purpose, growth, learning, connection, and significance. Our needs lead to goals. Goals require strategies and action steps that lead to desired outcomes.

Are you the best person for your work? What is your evidence? What are your overt benefit, the reason to believe, and unique difference? What other questions need to be asked to create transformation and transition? My approach to coaching looks at five key areas and determines if new patterns are necessary.

We begin by looking at the past. Who, what, where, and when can be significant. What were significant failures and mistakes? What did you learn? From your past, what defined you?

To know the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.    – Ibram X. Kendi

This allows one to acknowledge the present. What habits are serving you well? What habits are not serving you well?

One discovers the light in the darkness. That is what darkness is for.     – James Baldwin

This leads to working on one’s future. Where do you want to be significant? What would you like your legacy to be?

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.  – Maya Angelou

From here, we look at relationships. Who are the mavens, connectors, and salespeople in your circles of influence? Who can you go to for support? Who are the subject-matter experts in your life? Where do you need to grow your diversity in your relationships? How will you deal with difficult people going forward?

It is precisely the minor differences in people who are otherwise alike that form the basis of feelings of hostility between them.         – Sigmund Freud

Gratitude impacts our attitude. For what are you grateful? Where is your hope? How will you nurture hope in others?

Of all the arts, the art of living is probably the most important.       – Deborah Levy

If you are interested in learning more about my approach to coaching, contact me at carrpe.diem@gmail.com.

Push Back on My Word For 2022

I received pushback on my blog concerning my word for 2022 – civility.

“I found it curious that you cited the Jan 6 insurrection but did not mention the unrest in Minneapolis, the Seattle occupation of 6 city blocks for 21 days, and destroying a police precinct, and the 25 deaths, thousands of injuries, over 14,000 arrests, all the businesses destroyed and a couple of billion dollars in damage, and BLM and Antifa connected to many of the civil violence and unrest actions in 2020,  I say this because I do not believe a single action that happened on Jan 6 can incite a civil war or would make me worry about it, but In my humble opinion-   ALL these acts over the past several years have contributed to the concerns of civil war that you have … It is easy to twist any of this for political convenience, right or left…”

It’s like the difference between an apple and an orange to me. Here is my response:

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”    – James R. Schlesinger

To understand the difference between the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the BLM protests in Minneapolis, Seattle, or even here in Asheville, NC, I offer several different areas for your consideration and understanding.

Simply put, the insurrection on January 6th, 2021 was disloyal to the U.S. Constitution. The insurrection took place at the heart of our democracy, the U.S. Capitol. Protests are a part of democracy. The BLM protests were on the streets and were a call for acknowledgment of the untaught ugly history of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) over the past 400+ years, the unequal, unfair treatment of BIPOC compared to white, and the call to make right has been made wrong in the past.

True democracy in America only goes back to 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act guaranteed to ALL American citizens, regardless of race. Forty-three years later, we elected a Black president. As in the past, the rise of Black people to political power made some white Americans question the wisdom of democracy. Personally, I saw white people cringe and shake their heads when I was doing diversity workshops at the City of Asheville back in 2014 when I shared that by 2045, “white people” will be a minority according to the US Census. This is the main concern of The Proud Boys, The Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, the Alt-right, and the KKK. Here is the unspoken ‘elephant-in-the-room,’ – these groups want to ‘Make America Great Again’ beginning with being as white, male, Christian, and heterosexual as possible. After all, America was invaded by white, male, Christian, heterosexual people and made for white, male, Christian, heterosexual people.

I do not condone the violence and destruction of property by the BLM protests, but this video clip, How Can We Win? may help you get a Black and POC perspective on violence and destruction of BLM protests. It is crucial to understand the facts of the history of the BIPOC in the United States. White people have never treated BIPOC well. Beginning with the indigenous people who lived on the soil of America, white people scorned the indigenous, treated them as less than human, stole their land, broke treaties, and continue to treat the indigenous poorly.

Then there is the sordid history of how white people have treated Black and POC. There have been three countries that have promoted chattel slavery on this earth – India, the United States, and Nazi Germany. Guess where Nazi Germany learned about chattel slavery? – The Jim Crow south of The United States.

I ask you to learn and understand the untaught, ugly history of BIPOC including:
– why Blacks did not receive Social Security back when it was implemented in 1935
– why over 1 million Black GI’s were denied the GI Bill
– why the average wealth of a white family is 10 times greater than the average wealth of a Black family
– why threatened with death if Black and POC voted in elections
– why the infant mortality rate of Black and POC children is 2.3 times greater than white children
– why the life expectancy of a Black male is at least 4 years less than a white male
– the systemic and institutional racism that contributes to ‘Driving while Black,’ ‘Running while Black,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘The Look,’ ‘The Choice,’ ‘Buying while Black at Kroger,’ ‘Buying while Black at Walmart.’

I would encourage you to have hard-to-hear conversations on these topics with BIPOC. Do your homework on a couple of these topics and then go share with a BIPOC what you learned and ask them to validate ‘Driving while Black,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘The Look.’

One of the most powerful encounters I had just before COVID hit, was going with four other white men and five Black men to watch the movie, Just Mercy. Afterward, we sat around a large table and talked about the movie and how close to home it was for the Black men among us. We white men had no idea and could not relate.

This history is at the foundation of BLM protests. George Floyd’s murder was a current-day lynching that added to over 4,000 previous lynchings in our history and set off the protests.

What do you suppose is the history of the insurrection participants who were front and center at the January 6th insurrection? Do you think these people have experienced anything close to what BIPOC has experienced the past 400+ years? Have they experienced injustice, inequality, and trauma? Many of these groups were tied to the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, which Trump said were “good people.” Trump at the September 29, 2020 debate with Biden was quoted as telling the Proud Boys, directly to “stand back and stand by.”

If you go back to my blog and open the links for the political instability checklist leading to the demise of democracy, you will find 10 major causes:
– If the rights and freedoms of the people are not respected or are trampled upon, then it is very easy for instability to emerge.
– Corruption and mismanagement of the wealth of a country has over the years been shown to be one of the biggest factors responsible for political instability.
– An election that is characterized by rigged votes and intimidation of voters and that is not free and fair is one of the major causes of political instability in many countries across the globe.
– When the majority of the people are impoverished and cannot find jobs, they vent their anger on the government. Many countries have suffered from instability as a result of this.
– When members of opposing parties of the government are deliberately targeted and prosecuted for no apparent reason, this can easily give rise to instability in the country.
– When the government decides not to be open and transparent.
– When the citizens constantly live in fear because of a government that prevents them from freely expressing their views or opinions.
– High levels of prejudice in a country also leads to instability. In Africa, ethnic prejudices have over the years led to some of the worst forms of instability.
– A country can easily plunge into political instability when the head of state decides not to step down when his or her time is up. A good example of this is Syria.

The insurrection of January 6th had many of these components including mismanagement of wealth, the unfounded belief the elections of 2021 were not fair or free (over 60 courts have ruled otherwise; multiple recounts by different states included hand counts have shown no evidence to the contrary), suppression of opposition parties, not being open and transparent (evidence is showing this as the committee looks at the January 6th insurrection.)

The seeds of insurrection were planted by Trump when he encouraged attendees at his rallies to “knock the hell” out of protestors, praised a lawmaker who body-slammed a reporter and defended rioters who yelled to “hang Mike Pence.”

And the insurrection continues! For evidence:

Look at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Back in February 2021, she was removed from congressional committees after a series of posts advocating the execution of Democratic members of Congress and embracing elements of the QAnon conspiracy.

Look at Rep. Paul Gosar, who was censured back in November after posting an animated video of himself killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Look at Rep. Lauren Boebert and the Islamophobic remarks she had made on several occasions which have led to violence towards Muslim Americans.

Look at election officials and their families who have been threatened for certifying the presidential election even after numerous validated recounts affirmed by our courts.

Look at lawmakers and politicians and their families who have been threatened for voting their conscience and values and not going along with GOP party lines.

Look at a conservative rally in Idaho back in October, when one man stepped up to the microphone and asked when he could start killing Democrats? Ben Adams, an Idaho State Representative, replied, “That’s a fair question to ask.”

Look at Josh Mandel, former Ohio State Treasurer and candidate for U.S. Senate, urging Republicans to resist tyranny and said, “When the Gestapo shows up at your front door, you know what to do.”

One of the conversations I have with coaching clients is about their risk matrix. On one axis is risk, on the other axis is benefit. For common BIPOC, their risk matrix is benefit low and risk high. For me, as a white male (and most whites in the U.S.), my risk matrix is high benefit and low risk because of the tailwinds of being white throughout my life. Until these two different matrices become more symmetrical, you will see BIPOC in the streets protesting, and you will see insurrection growing as whites fight to maintain the status quo.

I’ll end with this quote from Omar Wasow, a poli sci professor at Pomona College who studies protests and race from the past to the present, “What’s different about almost all those other events is that now, there’s a partisan divide around the legitimacy of our political system,” he said. “The elite endorsement of political violence from factions of the Republican Party is distinct for me from what we saw in the 1960s. Then, you didn’t have — from a president on down — politicians calling citizens to engage in violent resistance.”

Evidence points out civility is on life support in the ICU.

I Now Pronounce You Husband and Wife!

I was asked by my son and future daughter-in-law to officiate their wedding. I went online and got “ordained” by The Universal Life Church Ministries. Several people in attendance as well as friends and family asked me to share the ceremony.

I began the ceremony with a welcome and acknowledgment of tribal and indigenous communities who originally lived and live on this land and on whose blood remains today. For Johnson City and Washington County, Tennessee, we recognized the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Muscogee “Creek” Nation citizens.

There was an opening prayer followed by scripture readings from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-11, Romans 12: 9-12, and an ee cummings poem [i carry your heart with me (i carry it in].

Here was my message to the bride and groom:

It’s an honor to stand before you two and officiate this ceremony!

We have come to this point in Brett and Abby’s lives who wish to share the magic of what they have experienced with each other and now with us.

For those of us in committed relationships, we also get to relive the magic we have with our significant other. I’d suggest this is an opportunity for us to hold hands with that person and experience the magic, the Holy Breath that is among us and in us. Brett and Abby’s magic becomes our magic.

It’s all lead up to this single moment of Brett and Abby looking at each other and saying, ‘I see you. I see you standing there. I know who you are. I totally get you. At this moment, I see all of you.’

This was captured in the 2004 movie Shall We Dance with Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon.
Sarandon’s character, Beverly Clark, meets Richard Jenkin’s character, Devine. They talk about why they think people get married. Devine says it’s passion! Beverly Clark responds:

“We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the unexpected things, the mundane things … all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.'”

That is the gift that we struggle to receive every day. And because we’re all struggling to receive it, we forget to give it.

Someone said, we actually marry three times – the first time for love, the second time for security, and the third time for companionship. If we are lucky we marry the same person for all three!

Here is a piece of trivia for you … in the four gospels of the Bible, Jesus asks 339 questions. He was interested rather than interesting. A great marriage is about being interested rather than interesting. Ask more questions of one another. Many times, the question is more important than the answer and follow-up with another question.

There are six questions I’m going to suggest you all learn to ask each other regularly … as well as all of us in this space who are in a relationship with a significant other!

1st question …Wait! What? This question is at the root of all understanding. This is actually part of the Prayer of St. Francis – seek to understand before being understood. Seek a shared-mental model. Ask for clarification. This is also an invitation to slow down and hit your pause button.

2nd question … I wonder …? is the foundation for curiosity is as in “I wonder why Brett is so quiet?” Or “I wonder why Abby hasn’t smiled much lately?” Or “I wonder if we could take our relationship to a higher level?” And “I wonder if I could help?”

3rd question … Couldn’t we at least …? is the beginning of progress. It is the question to help you get out of the rut or hole you have fallen into. It can be the bridge to overcome disagreements.

4th question … If not now, when? We human beings procrastinate. We put things off and have a laundry list of excuses. “Honey, you said you were going to (fill in the blank!)” “When I get (fill in the blank), then I’ll (fill in the blank).”

First, don’t make promises you cannot keep. Second, great relationships are built upon reciprocity – yin, and yang, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours! Third, we live in an age of distraction. If not now, when? is a call for focus and action.

5th question … How can I help? is the heart of your relationship. Be aware of trying to “fix” each other. How can I help? may mean putting down your smartphone and just being beside each other at a time of pain or suffering.

There are two basic kinds of people – givers and grabbers. I’ve never met a grabber who has grabbed enough to be happy. On the other hand, it’s the “givers” who seem to be the happiest. Giving of your time can be the greatest gift we can give to another. How you help each other matters as much as what you give to each other. Remember when you ask, “How can I help?” begins with humility, recognizing you are not the expert.

6th question … What truly matters to me? This gets to the purpose of this relationship. You also need to ask,
What truly matters to you? I would hope that what truly matters to each of you is to be called “Beloved.” Beloved is dearly and deeply loved and cherished.

After their declaration of intent, vows, and ring exchange, there was this blessing:

Holy Creator:
May these vows, rings and this marriage be blessed.
May their trials keep them strong.
May their failures keep them humble.
May the sorrow they encounter keep them human.

May their faith carry them when they feel broken.
May they have hope to bring them joy daily.
May this marriage be full of laughter.
May their wealth meet their needs

May they always be significant to one another.
May they have enough determination to make tomorrow better than today.

And all God’s people said, “AMEN”

I gave a pronouncement, and then told Brett he may kiss Abby. After which, I got to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Carr to the gathering!

My Word for 2022, Civility

As I have blogged before, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I allow a word to pick me and then understand and practice that word in my life for the upcoming year. I believe the word that has my attention for 2022 is civility.

Civil war is a big concern I have heading into 2022. Barbara F. Walter is a poli sci professor at UCSD and an expert on civil wars, terrorism, and violent extremism. She has a book coming out in January 2022,  How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them. She was interviewed by David Remnick, The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast. Give a listen at this link. Walter serves on the Political Instability Task Force (PITF) that helps the CIA predict upcoming civil wars in the world. If you go down the PITF checklist of what makes a civil war likely, the United States is in dangerous territory demonstrated by the insurrection we saw on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. As a result, the United States has moved from being a democracy to an anocracy. Walter writes, “We are no longer the world’s oldest continuous democracy. A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy.”
 
Civility is a huge behavior to move us back to democracy, BUT it requires a lot from each of us including:
– spend more time “slow thinking” rather than “fast thinking” (which is nearly 95% of our thinking!)
– be more curious and less judgmental. If you are a fan of Ted Lasso, here is a lesson in becoming more curious and less judgmental.
– embrace and practice emotional intelligence including being more self-aware, better at self-management, becoming more empathetic, and continuously practicing relationship management (a leader’s #1 responsibility!)
– acknowledge and face your fears. Brene Brown‘s research shows the opposite of love is fear. Hate and indifference are rooted in fear. Our ugly behavior, our addictions, our suffering are rooted in fear.

May civility be our New Year’s resolution as well as the gifts we give to each other going into 2022.

Climate Choice, Really?

I am part of a small group with different points of view, different beliefs, and different opinions. We call the group Building Bridges as we meet to discuss different topics led by two people in the group with different perspectives, learn of each other’s point of view, and seek to find common ground.

An upcoming discussion will be on climate choice. We have been asked to share our opinion on climate choice.

Here is my response:

I believe climate change is science, not a choice. Is gravity a choice? Is blinking a choice?  Busy is a choice. Putting on sunscreen is a choice.

“Death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.”  Seneca

Science is a process of learning and discovery. Science, like the world we live in, is not simple and requires discipline and effort. Science is a collection of facts of which we need to decipher, understand, and adapt to help us make predictions. Science like life represents reality.

“Scientific theories are not perfect replicas of reality, but we have good reason to believe that they capture significant elements of it. And experience reminds us that when we ignore reality, it sooner or later comes back to bite us.”  Naomi Oreskes

Science like us needs to be open to new information and possibilities. Observation, critical thinking, curiosity, and imagination are essential components of science as well as a life well-lived. Science recognizes it can be flawed and with additional observation, critical thinking, curiosity, and imagination, it will update and correct itself. The science behind our continuously learning of COVID, its characteristics, the way it is transmitted, its ongoing evolution is evidence.

Science is not comprised of a dominant group that decides what society will accept and what it will condemn. Science is not groups or systems within our society that adopts and supports misinformation or unsubstantiated beliefs into practices. Science is based on theory, not opinion. While you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts!
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. Aldous Huxley

In May 2019, my wife and I took an intimate Alaskan cruise. Onboard was Karen Dillman, a US Forest Service ecologist who lives in Petersburg, AK. She is a subject matter expert on lichen (of which one is named after her!), fungi, glaciers, and forest ecology. Dillman lead us on exploration hikes and gave talks on subjects of her expertise. It turns out that lichen are climate change indicators! Lichen are a keystone species in many ecosystems; serve as a food source for rodents, birds, and many other animals; provide nesting material for birds; protect trees from extreme weather elements. Dillman pointed out the lichen were suffering from climate change and thus rodents were not as big and plentiful which in turn impacts bald eagles that feed on rodents.

When we arrived at Sawyer glacier, Dillman pointed out that a year ago, this glacier extended out to where our boat was. The glaciers were “calving” at incredible rates due to the warmth of climate change.

Dillman pointed out the deterioration of lichen and the rapid glacier melt were primarily anthropogenic – industrial revolution, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gas emissions that have raised temperatures, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea and retreating on land. At the current rate, more than a third of the world’s glaciers will melt before the year 2100. The glacier melts we are witnessing today are changing the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and have been linked to the collapse of fisheries and the creation of more destructive storms and hurricanes around the planet.

Human beings have changed the environment in myriad ways with industry, transportation, agriculture, and land cover leading to vast increases in CO2, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and N2O. The World Data Center for Meteorology is in Asheville, NC, and tracks these gases and their impact on the earth’s environment. It requires critical thinking to unlearn unfounded, weak, or misinformed thinking nurtured over time.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose. And in our choice lies our growth and our freedom.Victor Frankl

Here is a fact: Ignore the environment and it will go away. I can make choices in how my wife and I wish to impact the environment. Did you know the average American home is over 2,300 square feet? If all 7.9 billion of earth’s current inhabitants lived in a 2,300 square foot home, Earth would need to be four times its current size. We choose to make our carbon footprint smaller by living in half that size home. Consequently, we consume less energy. We are looking to downsize to one car and choose a hybrid. Livestock contributes almost 15% of the global greenhouse gases. We choose to consume less meat.

What will you choose to do to impact the environment and assume your role as a collaborator in creation?