My Attitude Could Whip Your…A

My Attitude Could Whip Your…

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” –Williams James
 

I spent 8 years in higher education, 15 years beyond that as a pastor for a mainline denomination. I've studied human psychology, pastor counseling and theology. It took a man with no more than a high school education and a background in construction to teach me something real about people, about me.

I was having a bad day and it wasn't even 8:00 am. I’d had an argument with my wife. My children were not behaving the way I wanted them to, and my work schedule for the day was so packed that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get all of it done. My brain hurt, my back hurt and I pretty much hated everything and everybody at that moment.

My boss at the time took note of my bad attitude and asked me to come into his office. I did. He listened to my story and then paused before saying, “You have two choices this morning. You can stay pissed and have a sorry day, or you can do something about your attitude.” He reached in the desk drawer and handed me a card that resembled one of those “do not disturb” door hangers. On the front and back were a series of sayings, positive affirmations. He told me to take it and if I wanted to change my attitude to read the sayings out load on the way to my first appointment for that day. My attitude wasn’t very receptive. I thought of all the psychological cliques that I knew. I thought about how what I was going through was much bigger than a few clever and witty sayings. I thought of a hundred reasons why his suggestion was stupid. I didn’t challenge him. I took the card and headed for the truck. As I walked out of his office he said one more thing, “I bet you’re too chicken to try it.”

I smiled and for some reason warmed up to the idea of proving him wrong. On the way to my first appointment, I read them out load:

“I will win. Why? I’ll tell you why – because I have faith courage and enthusiasm.” 
“Today I will meet the right people in the right place at the right time for the betterment of all.” 
“I see opportunity in every challenge.”
“When I fail, I only look at what I did right.”

“I’ll never take advice from someone more messed up than I am.”

The readings continued, and so did a change in my attitude. There is great power in the words we speak to ourselves. By the time I was done I did feel better and begin to think on the things I could do to be effective and successful that day. I have never forgotten that lesson.

What we believe, about ourselves and our world is directly related to the words we say to ourselves and others.

9-11 #Poetry - Eagles Weep

Eagles weep the dust of fury
            Glory hangs in a breeze filled sky
Trumpets howl forth silence
            Empty eyes gaze on debris and cry

Paradox rains upon sweltering souls
            Discordant melodies find no harmonic tone
Sleeping giants fail to wake
           Dreams of horror in daylight come

Restrained talons seek to rip
            Flesh and bone. Retribution wails
Bridled shouts from viper lips           
             Broken tongues speechless, still

Such foreign chaos, grief born questions
            Here rests doubt, fear rooting
Anger to pain beget rage
            Tearing fabric, destroying the shoot

A blast through heart’s cage
            Cries, screams and eternal rage
Why! Demands our soul
            Why? Defiant voices entreat

Into this realm of despair
            Touching sinew of exposed hope
Lifting corpse-like remains
            Our Hope stands, lifted hands

In a speechless voice the whisper comes
            Gentle words rock our perilous stance
Words carefully spoken, deeply heard
            Faith, Hope, Love the memory calls

Again, glorious birds will find their songs
            Heavy banners will lift in a gentle breeze
Clarion call of brass sounds, proclaims
            Life has come and still remains

-Kim E Williams
September 12, 2001

Critical Conversation...oh, and #Coffee

This week I had a visit with a good friend of 5 years now. We met innocently enough at a local coffee house and talked over hot coffee and warm pastries. 


Ardmore Coffee, Winston-Salem,NC

Ardmore Coffee, Winston-Salem,NC

We spent about 2 hours together and I left with a bitter –sweet awareness.

The Sweet – We listened and talked to each other. We asked questions to better understand perspectives. We recalled life experiences and things we had read or seen to add depth and breadth to the conversation. We wondered together. We laughed, debated and share silence. I left feeling grateful for the time and stimulated in my thinking and creativity. Not once did we look at our phones or open a laptop or tablet.

The Bitter - I don’t have lingering, flesh-to-flesh, conversations nearly enough. I know I am busy at work and at home. I know the trend is for 140 character interactions, slinging videos and swapping texts, - trite verbal exchanges (and I’m very good at those – #justsaying), but I know it’s not enough. 

Have we somehow developed into a culture where conversation has been replaced with brief proclamations and affirmations? Has the art of reflective inquiry (was there ever such an art?) become too complicated, too time consuming, too hard?  I think one of the reasons that I love sharing coffee with others – just about anyone – is that it slows things down and creates a moment for conversation. It is hard to be in a hurry when you are trying to drink very HOT liquids!

My life needs more time for coffee and conversation, more space for debating, wondering with others. What about you? Care to join me for a cup of Joe? 

Clear Perspective - For The Birds

While watching the finches on our feeder I learned something about perspective...

 

The large bay window in our living room overlooks our front lawn; a large magnolia and maple tree drape the scene and arborvitae and rhododendron  break up the green carpet of the lawn. A thin pole stands outside the window holding a finch feeder. Regularly finches and other small varieties of birds visit, flitting from rest to flight. One of my favorite morning moments is settling in on the living room sofa with a steaming mug of coffee and watching the birds have breakfast. The view is private, simple and I feel an intimacy as I spy on their world, so thinly divided from mine by a pane of glass.

Today I noticed the blinds that hung, turned open, but still present - slicing my line of sight. The glass refracted the beams of light through hazed glass. Really, the lens through which I watch these birds isn't clear at all. I'd never noticed it before.

We look past things. We grow accustomed to the smeared glasses on our face, or the spotted windshield of our car, and the dirty window pane and the blinds. Now that I've noticed. I know and it bothers me. I'm already planning to dust and raise the blinds and clean the glass inside and out in order to see it the birds, the outside better.

Which causes me to wonder...what else in my day-to-day perceptions might have lost some clarity and could use a bit of polish and shine?

Get up. Move. Perspective.

The Solution: Simply move?

Hanging on the wall in my office, there is a picture of a tree that changes color and definition to reflect the four seasons. As you walk by the angle of the print causes the tree to shift from a winter scene of bare branches and snow, through sprouting spring foliage, the full greening of summer and then the autumn leaves of fall. From my desk seat, it always looks like autumn.


I like seeing the different images of the picture. The variety, changing colors and images offers a nice change from what is often the static unchanging art of an office space. There are times when I will just move to a different place in my office to see and enjoy the picture differently. It isn’t that I don’t like seeing the fall tree, I do. I like seeing the other images, too.


Here’s my thought: My living is often the same way. It is easy to settle into the same routine, the same patterns of moving through life and soon – everything seems to look stagnant. In the same way I have to get up and move to a different place in my office to see the variety of the tree picture, I can move to a different place in my living to see life with new colors.


The business of life glowed more brightly than the drab hues of work...

From a simple move, like visiting a different coffee shop, to a more dramatic change, like ending or starting a new relationship, we can experience the very different seasons of our living. I’m not advocating change for change sake, but I am encouraging myself to remember that sometimes I need to move a little and change my perspective in order to appreciate the rich variety of life.


I sat in a meeting yesterday with a successful local entrepreneur – a very rich man. He was clearly tired, almost exhausted throughout the meeting. After we had finished our business discussions, the conversation shifted as he explained his fatigue. He had spent the previous evening volunteering at a local homeless shelter. As he begin to tell the tale of his time helping others that night his energy lifted, his spirit soared and the conversation moved me to a different place. The business of life glowed more brightly than the drab hues of work...the previous conversation about his business.


Get up. Move. See. Enjoy.