Empowerment through embracement

There has been no shortage of thoughts lately on many different topics. One that has hit me pretty hard revolves around America and our democracy. The amount of contention, bullying, negativity, hate, mud throwing, etc. is taking its toll.

I personally have watched amazing people become bitter, hateful, mean and condescending online. As a result I have seen good people be emotionally hurt and become mentally damaged.

We live in country that has been founded on freedom. So I am all about people having their own opinions and feel it’s an important part of what makes our country great. But what we have witnessed this year is something I would never want to experience again. The blatant dismissal of human dignity from both Republicans and Democrats has been gut wrenching.

All that said, let me share some of the thoughts that have flooded my mind and heart. What happens when you mix the colors red and blue? Correct, you get the color purple. In doing some research on the color purple, here is what I found:

Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with power, ambition, creativity, wisdom, dignity, devotion, peace and pride.

The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, enhancing the sacred, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity.

Effectively purple maintains a connection with both the physical world and our soul, which makes it an excellent color to represent harmony and transformation.

If you look at the venn diagram below you will see a visual representation of what I see in my head. Let me ask you to ponder these questions as I am:

* What would America look like, feel like if we embraced those items associated with the color purple?

* What can I do to help get myself and potentially those around me into the color purple?

* What has caused me to distance myself from the color purple?

Now to make this very clear, in no way am I talking about policies or political platforms, nor am I talking about any politicians. What am I referring to the ability to co-exist with people who have different ideas, beliefs, values and even ways of expressing themselves. I am not going to allow myself to change what I believe because of how angry or hateful others get not would I want anyone to change their beliefs or positions. What I will do is strive to do my best to understand what others believe and think by listening. This does not mean I am going to change but it does allow for open communication. And guess what, if after a better understanding I take the time to learn more and if I feel that a change of my position is warranted, then I will make that decision.

I firmly believe the people are inherently good. Sure, there are going to be people who wish to do harm either emotionally and physically but that is not the norm. I do believe that we must be willing to stand-up and if needed defend what we believe. I do not believe this comes from rioting or violence, nor does it come from name calling, hateful speech, threats or bullying. Real, sustainable change comes after respectful, two-way communication.

There is no silver bullet per se but what my hope is that each of us can see how we can get closer to becoming Americans (aka purple color). It’s my belief that this is the only way that we can become a country of respect, compassion, service and understanding.

Sorry for the longer post and this does not come from a perspective of trying to start political fight. It comes from my heart as I see so many people hurting. No one wakes up in the morning hoping they get to feel hurt, people want to feel hope, happiness and stability. This will NEVER come from a politician or leader, it will only come from within, thus it is on each individual to find ways to become a great American.

America is amazing and that is because of the people who make up this country. This includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. We are a country made up of many different races which is awesome. These different races are what fill our country with people that have different ideas, beliefs, values, skills and talents. What a true blessing this is and one I am so thankful for. I will end with this, there is incredible empowerment through authentic embracement.

COVID-A Personal Experience

What started as something that seemed literally continents away (6, 738 miles to be exact) and never to impact my life became as real as any life experience I have ever had. We would watch the updated numbers of Covid cases in Utah and think, that’s crazy, at least we are safe, so we thought.

I was at work when I got a text from my wife saying that someone she had been very close to had tested positive for Covid. Not only that, her husband had as well. I immediately let my supervisor know that I needed to leave to get tested for Covid.

Once I got home I went online and filled out the Test Utah pre-screen. After answering the questions, I was provided with a code, as was my wife to go get tested.

The process was fairly simple but if I am being honest, when they did the actual test, the words I can use to express my feelings were “extremely uncomfortable”. They swabbed up through our nose and I felt like they were touching my brain. However, after about 20 to 30 minutes the discomfort went away. Then the waiting game started.

Our results finally came two days after we took the test. My wife’s results was positive and mine was negative. There was for the first time a real feeling of fear and nervousness. We reviewed the steps we needed to take based on the information from the CDC. The same day we received our results I began to have symptoms of Covid. These included a cough, nausea, muscle aches and loss of smell/taste. Once we spoke with our family doctor he determined that I most likely was positive for Covid and needed to self-isolate.

Based on this information we had all three of our boys tested. Our oldest tested positive and our two others tested negative. Our home became an isolation and quarantine compound. At first things were fine as we all understood the need to take all the necessary percautions to ensure safety. However, that changed.

The change I am referring to is the mental toll that this isolation was taking on our entire family. For me personally I was riding quite an emotional rollercoaster. I had no idea how the inability to not taste and smell would have on my emotionally. I mean it created feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness. It is hard to explain exactly why I felt all these at different times but I did. As I take the time think about this there are some reasons these feelings became real. First of all was the realization that Covid was in our home after thinking for months that there is no way we would ever experience it, next was the fact that none of us could work which created an enormous amount of stress as we have bills to pay. Working from home was only an option for two of our sons. Thank goodness my wife’s boss was very understanding.

As the days went on, we all started to feel better, although I continued to not be able to taste or smell, which was important to help create feelings of hope and that we would make it through this experience. I have to say that I was so impressed how my wife handle the situation. She stayed very positive and really provided inspiration for our entire family.

At the end of the day, my personal experience with Covid was one that forced me to think a lot more about both my mental and physical health. It was a wake-up call of sorts. I am one who strives to be positive and uplifiting. I love making others smile but during these past couple of weeks, I have realized that ensuring that I take time for myself is important. I also realized how blessed I am to have friends, family and neighbors who care. Whether it was a phone call, text, comment on social media, dropping off Crumble Cookies or knowing prayers were being offered on our behalf, I am truly grateful.

All of this said, it is important to be thoughtful during these crazy times. Meaning, if you truly care about others then wear a mask, social distance as best you can, wash your hands often, if you feel any symptoms, quarantine and as needed, get tested. Covid is real and life is precious.

Thanks to all those who reached out during this experience.

Values, vision and victory

In a world that seems to continue to create more chaos, confusion and conflict, it is becoming more important to focus on our values and vision to lead us to victory. Not what the world might determine as a victory with a celebration, trophy and parade but rather victory being defined as accomplishing those goals we have set for ourselves that lead us to greater happiness, success and motivation. We cannot afford to justify or allow negative influences into our lives or we will head down a slippery slope that usually ends in frustration, sadness, anxiety and even depression.

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It only has swearing a couple times; the sexual content is not that bad; there is more violence on the late night news; the Supreme Court made a ruling so I must change my beliefs. For many, these and many other statements are used on a regular basis to justify the way in which we live our lives. However, there is no doubt that when we get into a habit of justifying who we are, our beliefs and the decisions we make, we are actually giving up our own ability to be empowered and thus how we live and feel each day. This may not always be the case, but justifying our actions leads to a weakening of our own values, which can have both short- and long-term impacts.

As the world continues to influence the standards of society, it is becoming clear about the direct correlation to the deterioration of individuals, families and communities. As values are being swayed back and forth as a branch on a tree during a windstorm, many are finding their vision being impaired and in turn are either making decisions or seeing others make decisions that cause heartache, sadness and at times anger.

Vision

Every individual has the power to decide what their values are. To say that there is only one set of values that all must live by would be in and of itself a huge mistake. Values come from what we have been taught, what we have learned, our beliefs as well as our vision of the future, our goals. There is no question that what we believe and our values will influence others in some way.

With that knowledge, it is crucial to understand that there is a difference between living one’s values and others being influenced by them and pushing one’s values onto others without their wanting them. The key is establishing the values that can be seen with a clear vision, which in turn leads to more personal victories.

How does one go about securing a victory? That depends on the definition of victory. For some, victory means winning a game or a match. For some, it may be overcoming a trial such as a health issue or an addiction, and others may define victory simply as making it through the day.

If you look up the meaning of VICTORYvictory, you will see some type of definition like: the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist, achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties.

No matter how one may define victory, it’s something that everyone wants to achieve at some point in their life. In fact, we all will achieve victory or victories throughout our lives. Some we will recognize and others we may not. To help us achieve victory, no matter how we define it, it is important to have two other important items in our life, values and vision.

When you have been able to both identify what your values are and just as important live them every day, you will be able to focus your time and energy on the things that really need your attention. What also happens when you have clearly defined your values, you can then create a solid vision of what you want your future to look like. Having a vision of your future is so important because it can truly help you stay focused on your daily tasks, short-term and long-term goals. Without defined values and a clear vision, it is very difficult to achieve victory. Here are some ways to help one make a connection between these three important words that start with V:

  • Understanding the power of living your values. It is impossible to say that there are a certain set of values that every person in the world should have or live by. Cultures are different, people are different, circumstances are different, experiences are different and because of that, values will be different. That said, there is great power in knowing and living your values. Values are what really define us, they are the basis for the decisions we make, they are more often than not how others see us. Once you come to know what your values are and why those are your values, you can then create a vision of your future, a vision that can and should lead to victory.
  • Vision is what helps us progress. If you want to achieve a goal, you must first define that goal. You must know what success looks like. A vision is what you see in the future. This may include things such as; graduating, making a team, going to college, serving others, finding a career you are passionate about, being promoted, completing a major project, etc. These are all things that are down the road, it is not something that you can achieve in a day or even a week. It will take a determined and focused approach to bring your vision to reality. Your values will directly influence your vision. Thus, you can see why knowing and living your values is so important.
  • The best way to achieve victory is through your values. There is no predefined measurement of what victory means as it is determined by the individual. When you have made the conscious decision to let your values guide you, you free up your ability to take the necessary action to achieve success.  You will have to work for it, it won’t just happen.

When you have established your values and defined your vision, you will then set yourself up to achieve victory on a more consistent basis. What is very interesting is that when you do some research about values and vision, you will notice quickly that it is all about consistency. You cannot say you value integrity and then mislead others or cheat your organization. It will come back to haunt you.

consistency-is-keyIf you are consistent in living your values, you eliminate the clutter and chaos that might cloud your vision. Just like when eye drops are used to improve one’s vision, values play that same role. Only then can the necessary goals be created that can determine our victories. As the great coach Vince Lombardi said, “success demands singleness of purpose.”

GO BE A HERO!