Category Archives: motivational

Asians & Cameras, Whites & Trump, Klingons & War

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Last night, my husband and I watched NFL football players take a stand or a knee against police brutality and racial injustice during the National Anthem, we listened to a panel of West Michigan Trump and non-Trump voters have a discussion with Oprah on 60 Minutes, and we watched the first episode of the new Star Trek: Discovery. One statement, made by First Officer Burnham of the USS Shenzhou, really struck me. She said, “… it would be unwise to confuse race with culture.”

Although stereotypes are generalizations and not true in every instance, stereotypes exist because there is some truth to them. Not all Asians are paparazzis, but there was a time before cell phones when it was not uncommon to see Japanese people sporting cameras. My husband once lamented, while he was scraping doggie do from his shoe during a hike, that I take pictures of everything! I chuckled and said, “Well, I am Asian!”

Both negative and positive stereotypes or cultural characteristics exist. Cultures are not only restricted to nationalities. They can be regional, geographical and social. Police officers are not all white nor are they all brutal. The majority of police officers of various nationalities are compassionate peacekeepers and first responders. If your race or culture is carrying a certain negative label, doesn’t it make sense to be proactive and seek every opportunity to do the opposite and dispel the label, like some police officers are doing to connect with their communities and live in peace?

In most instances, the divisions we are experiencing in our country and in the world are not so much about race or even culture. Most of it stems from fear and a lack of understanding. Babies aren’t born prejudice and suspicious; they learn it. Whether it’s conservatives and liberals, blacks and cops, Christians and Muslims, or Mexicans and Trump, although our cultures and environments have shaped us into who we are, we are really all of one race—the human race—and we need to stop warring with each other. If we want to survive and experience satisfaction, it would be in our best interest to pursue peace by seeking to understand each other. As one of the West Michigan panel members expressed, we need to learn the art of discussion and compromise again, else I’ll take a stand, and you’ll take a stand, and neither of us will obtain what we want or need.

Instead of becoming defensive or offensive when ideas and cultures clash, maybe we should do what some Trump rally members did when a Black Lives Matter group showed up. Invite your ‘opponents’ to the stage to speak, too, start a dialog, gain some insight, and come to an understanding. I could even take a picture of you working together!


How Are You Gonna Handle It?

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“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  —Epictetus

We’ve read or heard the inspirational stories of how people have overcome tragedy or being dealt a bad hand.  We can either follow their example, take ownership and believe in possibilities, or we can remain in a cycle of making excuses, blaming others, and playing the victim.  We can be either a victim or a victor.  Anything worth having is worth striving for.

“Don’t get tired of doing good, for you will eventually see results, if you don’t give up.”  —Paul in the letter to the Galatians

 


Breathe Life

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“To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived, this is to have succeeded.”  —Ralph Waldo Emerson


Leading With Purpose

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“Leadership is about encouraging people.  It’s about stimulating them.  It’s about enabling them to achieve what they can achieve—and to do that with purpose.”  —Christine Lagarde


How to Begin

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“Begin with the end in mind.”  —Stephen R. Covey
After you begin and before you reach the end, when things become difficult or discouraging, try to remember why you started in the first place.

 

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Wisdom Wednesday: Making Plans

 


Pain

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Pain has a way of getting our attention, doesn’t it? Whether it’s physical pain or emotional pain, it has a way of grabbing us by the whatever hurts and reminding us of something… or someone.

“You can close your eyes to the things you do not want to see, but you cannot close your heart to the things you do not want to feel.” —Unknown

The same can be true of a physical wound. You may not want to look at it, but that doesn’t stop it from hurting. I tried to ignore an injury yesterday. I couldn’t see it, because I had extrication gloves on. I had accidentally smooshed my hand between the hydraulic cutter and the passenger side seat during a practical fire class on vehicle extrication. It ached, but I finished what I had started. Part of me didn’t want to take my glove off and look at it, but I did, so I could assess the damages. It seemed to be simply bruised, so I iced it with some nearby snow. It’s still a little sore today, but the bruising is barely noticeable now.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” —C.S. Lewis

While I think it’s true that God sometimes allows pain to come into our lives in order to get our attention, I have experienced times when I believe He has ‘whispered’ or ‘spoken’ in my pain to comfort and console me, especially when the pain was caused by something or someone beyond my control. I am grateful for the pain I experienced from the extrication training, because it serves as a reminder to be fully aware during rescue operations. It would cause me greater pain if I caused someone else to be injured, especially if it was avoidable.

A couple of other minor injuries have also gotten my attention recently. I’m not accident prone… usually. Earlier this week, I fell on the ice and bruised my elbow while ice skating with my granddaughter and trying to demonstrate to one of her little friends that I could, indeed, twirl like she could. We don’t realize how much we use something until we injure it or lose it, but you know what grabbed my attention more than the smooshed hand and bruised elbow? A tiny crack in my index finger! Every time I accidentally touched it, it felt like a needle being shoved inside! I know, I know, “then don’t touch it”, right?

Whether it’s physical pain or emotional pain, sometimes that’s easier said than done.

 

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Blinded to See

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Ok, I know this isn’t a new concept, but a recent firefighter training exercise during one of my Fire 1&2 classes helped me realize how much I didn’t know about something I thought I knew.  I already knew, as I’m sure most of you know, that when one of our senses is taken away or limited, we rely on other senses to compensate, but what I didn’t realize was how much I rely on my sight and that I didn’t know my equipment as well as I thought I did.  Relying on or focusing on one thing more than others can cause us to miss things in so many areas of our lives, from knowing our equipment, having good leadership skills, to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

So what was the training exercise?  In a nutshell, we had to simulate replacing our air cylinder under no visibility conditions by being blindfolded with all our gear on.  Although performing that task while being blindfolded can be challenging, what made it even more challenging was having to do it wearing thick fire gloves.  Not only was our sight removed, but our sense of touch was also hindered.

As I thought about the various ways the lesson could be applied, I was reminded of a TV show I’d seen a few times years ago called Dating in the Dark.  It was a reality show in which three men and three women entered a pitch black room, sat at a table, and tried to get to know each other quickly.  After the brief group meeting, each contestant could invite another contestant to have a one-on-one date, again in a completely dark room.  What was interesting was how each person reacted when they were finally allowed to see the one they’d chosen.  Some were ecstatic to find they had chosen an extremely attractive person, while others sometimes looked like they wanted to vomit when their date’s physical form was unveiled, even if they loved that person’s personality and other characteristics such as voice, laugh, or touch.  I know physical attraction can be a huge factor in having an intimate relationship, but it was sad to watch people being rejected because of the superficial focus.  That actually goes both ways; seeing only a person’s attractiveness can cause us to miss both great and ugly character qualities, or it can cause a person to feel like mere ‘arm candy’.

Just as knowing our equipment is important, good leaders know those they lead.  When leaders focus primarily on only one or two things, they miss the big picture, and their leadership and team suffer.  Good leaders are like good incident commanders, knowing the strengths and limitations of their crew, positioning themselves at a good vantage point to get a good overall view, having good communication skills, and being able to multi-task and delegate to get the job done efficiently.  Good leaders are able to lead, because they can see who and where they are leading.  Bad leaders think they see and know everything, but they are like the blind leading the blind.  Jesus called the religious leaders of His time “blind guides”, because they focused so much on trying to be right with God by following certain rules or having certain beliefs, and trying to be respected and praised by striving to be seen and praised for their good deeds and knowledge, that they missed the most important things… humility, mercy and love.

I don’t claim to see and know everything.  I know I have blind spots, too, but I’m learning and trying to see and understand things more clearly and am grateful for lessons and training exercises that help reveal my weaknesses.


Wisdom Wednesday: Dance to the Rhythm

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Have you ever really, really looked forward to something only to have things change and cause your heart to sink? Seems like I’ve been experiencing a greater share of disappointments lately. I thought I was already pretty flexible and spontaneous, but with encountering so many changes in plans, I can’t help but realize God’s hand at work, teaching me to become more adaptive and able to roll with the punches.

If the rhythm of the drum beat changes, the dance step must adapt.” —African proverb

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.” —Zen proverb

Sometimes we become angry when something upsets our plans. The apostle James explained that we become angry and fight because we aren’t getting what we want. (James 4:1-3)

“Flexible people don’t get bent out of shape.” —Unknown

“Satisfied desire is sweet to a person; therefore, it is hateful and exceedingly offensive to fools to give up evil [upon which they have set their hearts].” —Proverbs 13:19 TAB

Sometimes even if we don’t realize it right away, a change in plans can actually work out better in some way, or at least in the long run. One example involved two events scheduled for the same day. I had planned on attending a “Blessing of the Bikes” with a friend, and had to change plans when a zip lining birthday celebration for my mother-in-law was scheduled for the same day. Because the zip lining event was originally scheduled for early afternoon, I felt free to take on partial duty coverage for one of my firefighter brothers. I agreed to cover from the night before up to a certain hour the next morning. The night before the zip lining event, I was informed that the reservation was for one hour after my duty would end, giving me no time to shower and travel to the destination. Then it was changed to the very hour my shift would end. Fortunately, my daughter was able to take my reservation. I also thought that since I could no longer participate, I could possibly go on the “Blessing of the Bikes” ride after all! The possibility did, indeed, exist, until it was decided that they would be departing half an hour before my shift ended. At least I was able to have breakfast with them! Things worked out well in the end. My daughter was able to take my place and go zip lining and celebrate with her Nana, and I was able to do driver trainer on one of the fire apparatus for the first time.

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” —Proverbs 13:12 KJV

Another reason to be flexible, spontaneous, and able to adapt is because of love. I was talking to a former firefighter recently, and he related a time when he had come home late at night from a structure fire in -40° weather. He and his gear were frozen, and as he was thawing in the kitchen, his wife (at the time) complained that he was dripping all over the floor. Although it’s very likely as a firefighter’s wife, she had already faced many changes in plans and disappointments, to react in such a way to a frozen hero was… cold. Martin Luther said, “Faith, like light, should always be simple and unbending; while love, like warmth, should beam forth on every side, and bend to every necessity of our brethren.”

“Yielding flexibility is a virtue of an ever-expanding heart.” —Molly Friedenfeld, author

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Wisdom Wednesday: Put Your Heart Into Caring

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It has been a while since I have posted a Wisdom Wednesday, but now that my EMT classes are over, and because I have a good friend who encourages and motivates me, I decided to post one today.  Thank you, Randell!

Have you ever been caught by surprise and left wondering, “How did that just happen?!”

While looking over proverbs that I had noted months ago, Proverbs 27:23 jumped out at me— “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds.” That’s only part of the entire proverb, but it stood out to me for a few personal reasons, and I realized how multi-faceted it is. It’s not just about flocks and herds, being a farmer, or finances; it’s about stewardship, leadership, and relationships. Good shepherds know their sheep, good leaders know their people, and good relationships are kept intact when we know and love each other in the way we each need to feel loved. If we neglect to “know the face of our flocks” or “put our heart into caring”, as the literal Hebrew implies, we may find ourselves caught by surprise when something or someone slips away.

“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” —George Lorimer

“For willful waste makes woeful want, and I may live to say, ‘Oh! How I wish I had the bread that once I threw away!’” —Unknown

“When you’re dying of thirst it’s too late to think about digging a well.” —Japanese Proverb

“He who would enjoy the fruit must not spoil the blossoms.” —Gaelic proverb

“When men say [“Oh, I’ve loaded my shotgun”], ‘cause I know when men say that, they’re trying to pretend they have taken their position of leadership. You don’t need to load your shotgun, you need to love your daughter. You need to know your daughter. You need to pray with your daughter. You need to invest in your daughter, ‘cause the main thing is not to blow his head off, but to keep her heart.” —Mark Driscoll, pastor in Honor Your Father and Mother

“Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.” —Proverbs 27:23, 24 NLT

“Effective leaders are engaged in the lives of the people they are leading and are constantly seeking to understand how they can create an environment in which people succeed.” —Nathan Mellor, president of Strata Leadership, LLC

“He who wants to travel far takes care of his beast.” —French proverb

 
 

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My Heart Is…

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“If you want to know where your heart is, look at where your mind goes when it wanders.” —Unknown

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  —Jesus

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Wisdom Wednesday: The Heart Revealed

Wisdom Wednesday: The Heart Revealed


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