Again… It’s Time for a Change! Our Change.

I had an epiphany, when I thaught about the Inauguration of our country’s 44th President… for the second term. Everything in our given lives is about coming from a place of impossible odds and overcoming those challenges as they are presented. For our second-term President, Barack Obama and his family, it’s not really about them being the first African American family to inhabit the White House, but rather that they “defied the odds” in doing so. I liked that. It is how I described my own journey in overcoming Child Abuse. I defied the odds as well, in that I am whole and healthy in spirit, but there are many of us … and in many areas.

All of us face some test of defying the odds and overcoming personal challenges at some point. Whether it’s overcoming current or past abuse, financial and/or emotional tests, drug and alcohol addiction or any number of other things; if/when we defy the odds…we win! Often, I write about how blessed I feel, that in spite of my background…I am relatively unscathed. When I think about it further, I know that it was also positive action on my part. When we overcome statistical odds in our own lives and come out better on the other side…we are “Obama” in our own right. No one chooses to be on the receiving end of a painful test or challenge. Similarly, no one gets to choose their birth parents, sex, skin color, or even nationality. The mere fact that we arrive on this Earth as humans, at all …is somewhat of a statistical miracle. We arrive from the fertilization of a single sperm finding a single egg. That’s defying the odds right there in our own birth.

In this great country of the United States, we DO get to choose other things that we often take for granted; freedom of speech and freedom of religion are just two. We saw it in action during this past campaign. Again. In addition, we have the freedom to leave our own negative choices and pasts behind us at any time. We have the freedom to pursue an education, and take it to the highest level, similar to our president, and therefore secure good employment. We have the freedom to help others and give generously of ourselves to make America a better place for all. That follows that we can be a country of givers and not takers. This applies to all of us. It appears we are off to a start in that direction… again… or maybe for the first time. I have a feeling that our President will be much more assertive in his leadership role this time in office.

We also have the freedom to stop whining about what we don’t have, can’t do, or don’t like… and make our own changes. The current administration is not going to pay our rent/mortgage, lower gas/food prices, and cure all the other issues facing our country. Let’s do it for ourselves and become a Nation of “Givers” beyond compare. And I’m not referring to handouts and freebies from local organizations and governments. Do not expect to take unless you sincerely believe in Paying Forward when your own personal challenge has ended.

When I think of the slogan “Time for a Change” …again… it means that we all have to change in some personal area; this is not a slogan for the new administration alone. Defy the odds, overcome your own challenges and become better with each day. In America, all things are possible.

An Unopened Gift for 2013

It’s a brand new year and we all have the chance to start over. That’s a powerful thought! Many years, we let that opportunity slip by. Imagine the freedom of actually wiping the slate clean of all the negatives and instead focusing only on the positives in our lives. Aside from the scientific meaning, I’d like to think that’s why we call it a “new year.”

This opportunity is offered to all men …everywhere. It makes us connected in a very basic way. Sometimes, this gift is forgotten or dismissed. Yet, it might be the most meaningful thing we receive.

It is often difficult to unwrap a new beginning and start fresh because it brings memories and situations that might be painful and scary. Maybe a loved one has died or has been diagnosed with an illness. We might even be the one who is ill and we feel frightened and alone. Perhaps, we have lost a job or our home and we are uncertain of our family’s security. Sometimes, there is Military Deployment in the family or one is coming up and we worry constantly. Or occasionally, our burden is a wrong that was done to us over the last year or perhaps, it’s something we did to another person and we are now shouldering the guilt of our actions. Real situations: real life.

Here’s the amazing part. It is virtually impossible not to find something good in even the most challenging of situations. It’s difficult to see sometimes, but it’s always there. My own personal belief is that we can not control what is done to us, our individual tests and challenges by others, Nature, and our God, but we always have a choice in how we react to those tests and challenges. It appears as basic as acceptance of the things we can not change and a quiet determination to rise above our adversities as a stronger and wiser person. It is also our opportunity to act both honorably and responsibly not only for ourselves but for others while we find our way. Very simply, it’s Integrity or doing the right thing regardless of the outcome. Sometimes it is difficult, but we can accomplish it.

Choice is what separates humans from other mammals; that’s empowering. Even if we personally fail in one test or challenge…a new one will come along in which we get to choose all over again. Maybe, it’s so we finally get it correct. Life, as given, isn’t easy. Often, we do not like the apparent choices as they are presented to us and sometimes, they seem unfair, but they are choices nonetheless.

With each and every positive choice we make for ourselves and towards others we further define who we are as Human Beings and make the world a better place. Every day we are given this opportunity to perfect ourselves. It is an absolutely liberating thought and practice. We are not defined by what has been done to us in the past, but instead we are what we have chosen to do for ourselves… both now and in the future. We can all choose that this year.

We have all been given another similar gift to unwrap…Life! It’s another one of those gifts, like a new year, that is often forgotten and just taken for granted. Thanks to the movie, BUCKET LIST,  from a couple of years ago , many people are now, more than ever, trying to scratch off their own dreams and wishes before their individual time here expires. My own thoughts and methods in this regard are more in the line of: Why would an individual ever wait to experience the riches of life?

One need not have an expensive or lengthy list to experience life’s amazing gifts. Maybe we can just slow down and recognize LIFE for the precious gift that it is… all on its own. A good place to start would be if we all recognized the small things of our day that touch our soul. We so often overlook these because we are too busy or we yearn for something greater and grander. Actually, just embracing each day to the fullest is pretty amazing all on its own! The sun as it is setting in the west on a glorious evening, the extra hour of sleep curled up next to the one we love on our day off, a walk in nature, or helping a total stranger- are wonders that can be enjoyed by all.

Simple things are in our lives for the taking, but we need to make an effort of recognizing them. Each day for the next month write down at least one thing that you did that day, which you normally would have taken for granted. At the end of the month, you have a wonderful Living List. Now, this is a great list!

It’s pretty safe to say that all of us lost something this past year. If we lost family members or friends, it is important to honor their memory by becoming strong within ourselves. What a wonderful tribute to them if we actually become better people in spite of our grief over their passing. Reaching out to others in need: financially, emotionally, or spiritually can be done in their name. We further define their life by our own positive choices. Also, there is great healing in personal growth of our own.

Unfortunately, because of the economic turmoil in our country many lost their jobs as companies downsized and went under. Homes across the nation saw the greatest foreclosure rate in decades and those who were lucky enough to actually sell their home, sold it for much less than anticipated. For some, retirement assets dwindled and savings all but evaporated. Yes, it was a year of great changes…financially. However, the coming months will be an opportunity of new choices and fresh starts. I’m going to embrace the changes and hopefully learn from the experience.

Not everyone suffered a financial loss but they were tested in other areas. This is a given; no one has it all. All too often tests and challenges are in the area of relationships. Perhaps, a relationship at work or within the family didn’t go exactly the direction it should have in the past year. Words were said to each other and actions directed at another person that might seem irreversible. There’s that old joke about… nothing is certain but death and taxes. Actually, it is a good lesson. Negative actions towards each other can cease and hurtful words can be corrected by heartfelt apologies. It appears that nothing worthwhile is ever easy and this will be no exception. There is no guarantee that there will be forgiveness, but the effort of trying is notable.

What is amazing about our time here on Earth is that with each positive action we choose, we have the opportunity to leave our own Human Footprint in time. Let this be the year that our lives aren’t so much about what we have…or what we’ve lost, but rather what we’ve given and therefore found. Here’s to all of us opening that last gift!