Category Archives: focus

RISE IRSE ISRE…

One of the exercises we did at our Elite Influencer’s Summit in England was one involving values. It was very intense. We’d tell our stories and describe our avatars and the traits and characteristics we admired and those we hated. From those conversations, our values were made known. Because we were on a tight schedule, we only listed 10 values…the 10 most important things in our lives. If you look around, you will see companies, organizations, school systems, and governmental entities claiming these qualities: Respect, Integrity, Sevice, and Excellence. However, the qualities and values we revealed were through our actions, our speech, and our relationships. The ones claimed by the companies were chosen because they resonate with the clients, customers, constituents, and children’s caretakers. They were not derived from their actions.

If you were to interview the top echelons of these entities, you would discover they have 20-30 of the values that are really important to them, and though Respect, Integrity, Service, and Excellence might be on the list, they’re not very high on it.

Here’s how the exercise went. After discovering the values expressed by the person’s way of life, their thoughts, and their actions, they were put into a list. Then their coach had the participant choose between them to arrive at a prioritized list.

Integrity or Independence? Integrity
Integrity or Truth? Integrity
Integrity or Freedom? Freedom
Freedom or Honesty? Freedom
Freedom or alignment? Freedom…and so on and so on until all of the values are in order of priority.

Our guinea pig had to choose among 30 of these values and it took 1 1/2 hours to get to the definitive list. It was a grueling exercise! You could tell he was exhausted! Have you or anyone you know ever done an exercise like this? I’d be willing to bet that none of these executives have.

One of my values was impact. I was unique in that aspect. Another participant had Dependability for his #1. Another had Contribution. Given the choice of Honesty, Truth, or Integrity, most chose Honesty 1st. Given a choice of Respect, Alignment, or Loyalty, most chose Loyalty. It’s not that those traits aren’t important, it’s that they’re less important than others.

Looking through the Toastmaster posts on the Facebook page, I would infer that Service and Integrity are something desired more by the membership than by the Leadership of the organization. They are high on the complaint list! What kind of values do the Leaders seem to stress? Alignment, Loyalty, and adherence to cultural norms within the organization. Respect seems to be an accessory and Excellence is a bonus. How do you measure excellence? With a contest, right? It’s why they have the Olympic games and Spelling Bees. It’s why there are Michelin Stars and JD Powers awards. Yet, if TM could get rid of contests, they would in a flash. TM is a non-profit business that sells the promise of competence as communicators and leaders while providing materials for study. Do they produce good communicators and leaders? How would anyone know? Yet, their core values are Integrity (doing what they say they’ll do), Respect (showing appreciation and consideration, and treating people with honor and dignity), Service (providing support and aid to further the members’ goals), and Excellence (celebrating the best of performance, quality, and merit).

Look at all the other organizations that present themselves with those same values. Are these traits apparent in their behavior, their advertising, or their relationships with their clients or students?

When have you ever done a deep dive into your core values? If people could look at what you write about, how you express yourself, how you behave, what makes you happy and what makes you mad, the people you surround yourself with and those you shun, what conclusions would they draw about your values? I tell you, I was surprised when I did this exercise.

Mine were these:

  1. Impact
  2. Autonomy
  3. Intelligence
  4. Quality
  5. Curiosity
  6. Creativity
  7. Integrity
  8. Beauty
  9. Open-mindedness
  10. Equity
  11. Choice
  12. Persistence
  13. Humor

Some of these values may not even seem like values to many people. This, of course, is not an exhaustive list, and more values may bubble up to higher priorities as I continue to live on this beautiful blue ball.

If you claim values, you better live them. If you choose values because they help you sell cars, Integrity, honesty, or truth isn’t even on your list. Remember, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Where are the boundaries?

I had a nice man come to my door seeking my vote for him as a member of the school board.

His stances were printed on his handout:

  1. Fight for parental rights and transparency in our curriculums
  2. Set high expectations and place the focus on academic excellence
  3. Support school choice and competition
  4. Work to keep Critical Race Theory, Comprehensive Sex Education, and other destructive agendas out of our classrooms
  5. Use your (the taxpayer) tax dollars wisely, and fight to cut spending and lower the tax levy
  6. Fight against mask and vaccine mandates

OMG.

  1. The school system which includes teachers and administrative personnel act “in loco parentis” or in place of the parents. I have seen what happens when some parents decide that they don’t need to allow teachers or administrators that oversight and interfere with the smooth transactions of education. One pulled her child out of line and spanked her child because she looked over to the window to see her mom and little brother and sister looking in. “That will teach you to pay attention!!!” she screamed. One parent was calling all the teachers for her little darling and bawling them out for giving him too much homework and then flunking him anyway. One guy felt it his duty to supervise recess and keep bullies from getting punished. “They’re just having a little fun. They’re not hurting anyone…” A group of parents decided which books in the library were to be burned and broke in and vandalized the room and damaged many of the books that weren’t on the list simply because they looked suspicious.
  2. The state school board already sets expectations in the form of standardized tests. Who is responsible for academic excellence? Isn’t the student? There is little a teacher can do to make sure each and every student reaches the same level of excellence because of “No Child Left Behind,” and the threat of loss of funding should the students fall short. There are no requirements made of students such as turning in projects and homework or studying for tests. So who bears the brunt of this expectation? The teachers? This is why the pool of teachers is getting smaller.
  3. You can’t always get enrolled in the school of your choice because of classroom size limitations. And if you do choose a school outside your district, they are not required to provide transportation. The priorities of the school locations were to provide neighborhoods with neighborhood schools, where the students knew most of the other students. How do your tax dollars get to the school you send your kid to? You cannot designate the funds according to your choice of schools. Parents of children from outside of your district are not contributing to your school.
  4. Critical Race Theory is an approach to discrimination, not coursework. Comprehensive Sex Education is not mandated in this candidate’s state. I am not sure what other destructive agendas he might be referring to unless he’s going to go back to Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design or Creationism.
  5. To ensure good education, you have to empower teachers, not disempower them. You have to pay them a living wage. You have to provide materials for the classes as well as maintain the physical building. Cutting spending–where? Lowering the tax levy–how?
  6. Mask and Vaccine mandates protect the children and teachers from getting sick. Doesn’t the health of everyone in the school system have any meaning?

Now to be fair, if you go to his landing page, he has a lot fewer stupid stances. Keeping political agenda out of the schools? Good. Attracting excellent teachers? Good. How? He doesn’t say. But when you get into his site, he goes into indoctrination based on Christian ideals. Yay! But that would be good for parochial schools, not public schools. We cannot TEACH the children what they are: children of God who are loved unconditionally, but we can show them. His tag line is Education–Not indoctrination, then he wants to indoctrinate students in regard to our supremacy as a country and morality as a people. Morality should be taught in church and in the home. Sex ed shouldn’t have to be taught in school, but because parents have abdicated that responsibility, it needs to be taught somewhere.

I dunno. It seems to me that people are CRYING OUT TO GOD! And then hoping he doesn’t answer and just waves his magic wand and everything we hate disappears. What if we’re the ones that disappear? Whoops.

What we, as Christians, need to do is ACT LIKE CHRISTIANS! We are trying to substitute an outside influence on behaviors to codify and conform all the behavior so everyone knows what’s right and what isn’t. EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS what’s right and wrong. We don’t have to spell everything out. It’s the law that’s written on our hearts: Love our neighbors as ourselves is one of 2 that are there. Love the Lord your God is the 1st, and we tend to love ourselves more than anything and despise those that are not us. There are more divisions every day. Listen to God in your heart. Love all and treat all with respect and not judgment. The government should have no say in moral issues. The government should butt out of the schools.

Whenever we say, “There ought to be a law…” we take away autonomy, resourcefulness, creativity, and responsibility from all. We are, in effect, saying, “No constituent has the thinking ability, the consciousness, or the awareness to conduct his life as he sees fit. We must provide that for him.”

We provide our children the guidance and the moral basis that becomes their belief systems for when they become adults. But once they’re on their own, we allow them to make the mistakes, because they represent exactly what we have given them and have to make choices as to what behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes serve them best, and what don’t. When we step in and correct them, and tell them what to do, we are basically telling them they are incompetent at living as adults. Would you try if you thought your parents believed you were incapable of being an adult?

I will not be voting for this candidate.

Where does talent come from?

Wait! You can’t get it at the department store? I’m disillusioned!

How do we define “talent” and when is that term used?

Definition of talent

1aa special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

b: general intelligence or mental powerABILITY

2: the natural endowments of a person

5: (archaica characteristic feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person or animal

Thank you Merriam Webster.

When you watch Eddie Van Halen play guitar, you will hear him described as extremely talented. When you look at Michaelangelo’s work, you will gasp at his grasp of the human form, an amazing artistic talent. When you ask Einstein anything, you don’t think talent, you think genius. When you watch someone do anything that is beyond the ordinary in the physical world…fine arts, or sports, we call them talented. When you see the results of mental ability beyond the ordinary, we classify it as an expression of genius. They’re the same thing.

Why is that important? I’ve been told that I am a talented musician. I am not in an orchestra or in the opera. I can, however, play Bach’s Prelude in C from the Well-Tempered Clavier in any key you want. But I think many musicians cringe at that term because it seems to discount the amount of work it takes to get to any level of mastery.

I know plenty of musicians in orchestras that cannot play anything without the sheet music. They are technically brilliant, but not exactly talented. Of the 165 musicians that graduated in my class, only 5 could play by ear. Many music teachers won’t work with students that play by ear because the students learn the song by hearing it, and may not hear it the way it is written. So NOT ALL MUSICIANS ARE TALENTED. They put in a lot of work. People tend to equate skill and talent. Do they do that in intellectual fields too?

If someone has multiple degrees in many different fields, are they talented at learning? Or are they geniuses? What are your thoughts? Can a learning process that allows people to acquire knowledge in multiple areas be learned? Does knowledge in one discipline translate to another discipline? People that can make that transition from one subject to another and almost instantly “know” what pertains and what doesn’t are considered intuitive. How much intuition do geniuses display?

So let’s examine intuition. This should be interesting. Picture your brain as an electrical machine.

All your thoughts, insights, memories, and powers of logic work like sparks in your mind. Somehow, your mind is able to retrieve whatever information it needs at the time it needs it. For instance: how does my brain know where all the letters on my keyboard are and tell each finger when and where to push to get the words I want while simultaneously allowing my eyes to see misspellings and mistakes in grammar and my conscious mind to think what the next word is supposed to be? It’s A MIRACLE! It is also simultaneously processing the fact that my husband is typing on his work computer, the mailman is on his way up the hill, and the speed of the wind because it buzzes my siding at 25 mph.

What is intuition then?

a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

bimmediate apprehension or cognition

c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition

That means that presented with a set of circumstances, a person with a high degree of intuition can immediately understand the situation without “apparently” figuring things out. A person with talent in music can figure out the chord progressions, the beat, and the melodic or harmonic notes that can be played as improvisation. A person without talent would have to see the progression, chart out the available notes, compose a solo and learn it by practicing. The talented musician makes use of his intuition to project what is coming up in the accompaniment and adjust his improvisation accordingly.

Someone that gets on the elevator with his boss and who then can give a short synopsis of the project he’s working on without writing it out and reciting it is using his intuition to figure out what the boss needs to be told and in how much detail.

Someone that is sitting on a train and upon going past a train in the opposite direction comes up with a theory of relativity has used his intuitive power to see the connection between time and space.

What is happening is that the connections in the mind from one thing to a completely different thing are bouncing around near the boundary between the conscious and subconscious mind in such a way that there is an instant recognition of the relationships between these things.

How do you increase the size of this opening between conscious and subconscious?

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Practice?

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Nope, it’s PLAYING! If you want to learn how to improvise on a musical instrument, you just play and make LOTS of mistakes. You pick up what sounds good and what doesn’t. You find out what your fingers can do, and what they need to rework. You find out how to make what you hear in your head come out of your fingers. You experiment.

You want to learn how to skateboard? You’re going to break a lot of bones.

You want to do perfect diving? You’re going to do lots of belly flops.

You want to write the Great American Novel? You’ll write the Grate American Novel 1st that will make you cringe to read.

You want to be a genius? Read a lot and ask lots of questions! Flunk a lot of tests. You’re probably backing off now. You think that you have to be born a genius. I do not believe you do. If you develop your intuition, expand your awareness, and become facile in the art of interaction between the conscious and subconscious, you get more sparks flying. Originally, the Intelligence Quotient compared your apparent mental age to your actual age. What should a 5-year-old know? What does THIS 5-year-old know? If the 5-year-old knows stuff that 8-year-olds know, then 8/5 x 100 gives you 160 IQ. To maintain that 160 IQ, what would his apparent mental age have to be when he’s 10? 16. What would it have to be if he was 30? 48. What is the difference between what a 48-year-old person and a 30-year-old know? Yeah. Hard to figure that out. They don’t have knowledge standards for every age, do they?

You develop your talent/intuition by playing and having fun. Do Sudoku puzzles. Kick a soccer ball around. Pick up a different instrument. Read some philosphy. Write a poem. Consider the origins of the Universe. Make those sparks Fly!

Goals?

Last September I had a vision. I was in the Entrepreneurial Mastery Inner Circle. It’s a group of entrepreneurs that discuss how to be more successful in their businesses, and the main business they have in common is the coaching business. The founder of the group wanted to get a Coaching Academy going that would educate the public on what coaching really was all about, accredit aspiring coaches, and stretch them in their performance to become elite influencers.

What was that vision I had? At first, it was a picture that CS had provided…the association of highly competent coaches who not only had amazing skills getting people closer to their ideal performance level, but their businesses were thriving. People came to them for the best service. They weren’t begging for clients or involved in discount price wars. They could do What they wanted, When they wanted, With Whom they wanted, at the Price they wanted, If they chose to do business at all. We would get together for an intense seminar to give us not only the coaching techniques and skills but the business acumen we’d need to stay in business. I got a glimmer of that vision right then.

But there were hoops to go through, challenges to face, an intellectual gap to fill, and a heavy price to pay. I have probably mentioned my learning method (feganmethod.com), so I knew I could handle the intellectual gap. I am also a financial guru of sorts, so the hefty price was something I could arrange. I expected to get a return on my investment to more than compensate for the cost. Things outside of my control? There was an application process that included an interview, and I was told that not everyone would qualify. From being involved in those calls from the Entrepreneurial Mastery Circle, I knew there were many people in that group that were much more qualified than I with more experience and making much more money. They were charging $100/session and they had more clients. I had a teaching business and had never coached before. I was charging $100 per month! But that vision kept pulling me back, each time with more detail.

I knew that the person I saw in my vision was not the same one that faced me in the mirror. This was a different kind of goal that I’d never gone after before.

If you have a job or a business, you are probably familiar with goal setting. You understand dream boards or vision boards. You have probably discovered affirmations you tack to your bathroom mirror and recite before you go to bed. You probably keep a pencil and paper by your bedside in case you come up with the cure for cancer in the middle of the night. You write down the 6 most important things you have to do the next day. Those are all measurable and can be put into a list that enables you to check things off. They get you to your goal of success however you define it.

This goal I was looking at, to get accepted into this Coaching Academy, was not like anything I’d ever come across in those motivational seminars I had attended every 6 weeks for 15 years. This goal was not like all those self-help gurus who told us to find our “Why?” to discover our “How?” and improve our lives. They all involved concrete steps that you had to trudge up to get what you wanted. The leadership books I read focused on How a leader thinks and What to concentrate on. This approach, for this vision, was how to improve thinking itself. It was raising awareness and extending consciousness. How in the world do you measure that? It occurred to me that the vision boards and the affirmations were two-dimensional representations. This growth was growth from inside to outside, not outside to inside. As such, two-dimensional thinking would be inadequate. It involved three dimensions!

I put in my application with my money, but I had no assurances that I would be chosen. In the meantime, I studied the materials that were sent out. I took part in the discussions online. I had been a part of the Empowered Women’s Inner Circle for a while by then, and I was regarded as the “genius” of the group. I am no genius, but my learning method has brought me insight into many different disciplines of thought. The members of that group would be discussing a topic, and I’d have the facts available since many of these topics were those I had taught. All the women in this group are wise, innovative, resourceful, empathetic, and goal-oriented. But it is not skills they seek in this group, it is improving their thinking. This group was made up of exactly the type of people I needed to associate with. These were exactly the issues I needed to face. AND, as a bonus, I liked all of them!

Throughout this waiting period, we were informed that over one hundred people had applied for acceptance into the very rare air that was this Coaching Academy. I was not optimistic about my chances. With the discussions and the study, I had stretched my awareness and my consciousness had awakened a new approach to the circumstances in my life. I was responding rather than reacting. I was considering options and choosing actions and words and it was becoming more instinctive with practice. My awareness of my individual strengths and weaknesses, my insights into how I thought, and my observation of how those people around me thought grew. With all the study I was doing (it’s self-paced) I had to design a discipline that would allow for the reflection and deep-diving into the thought processes. By doing this, I was seeing some real, tangible, credible growth in my thinking. It enabled me to reflect on my experiences and see them in a different light. It moved me to change my perspectives.

Then, wonder of wonders, I was informed that I was one of the chosen. I would become a Founding Member of this Coaching Academy! Only 20 of the 100 applicants were accepted. I was floored! Now the real work would begin! He sent out the teaching modules on coaching: the premise behind the idea of coaching, the approach, why and how it worked, and how to improve. It made my brain sweat. I would spend 15 minutes watching a module and answer the basic questions that ascertained that the material had been duly read and digested. Then there were self-assessment questions that gave me the chance to show my understanding of the material. These were deep questions that required thought, and the act of responding to these questions brought back memories of essays from English Composition. There had to be a structure and a point, and the best way to express the concept would be in story form so it had to have a plot. So, in addition to the 15-minute module, I had another hour or so of that exercise. AFTER THAT (wait, there’s MORE) I had to answer application questions that were even more involved! This set of questions often took more than 2 hours to answer. Then, at the end of the module that might include several teachings, there was an assessment that took about 2 1/2 hours to go through! In addition to the group discussions in the EMIC and EWIC groups, the new calls involved the philosophical approach and solving problems before they became problems. I was having to take a nap after each session!

Ever-so-slightly, I noticed that my mental acuity was improving. Each exercise planted a seed of growth in my mind. Soon, my weeds were gone, and now I had an English Garden.

So 8 months after I had that first glimmer of a vision of me in the future, I was there, in England with 20 of the brightest minds in the business. I’m STILL excited!

This is where I stayed:

This is where I got advanced training in coaching techniques and practical matters to help me stay in business. But I haven’t even finished the first half of the material I need to pass the accreditation. I have a lot of modules to get through, lots of exercises to do, practice sessions, reflection, self-assessment to get through, and many conversations…But I already have a vision for what will occur in August at the next summit meeting. I already have a glimmer of what kind of person I will become after that. I’m seeing people reacting to the person I have become, and I believe they see a difference in me too.

If you want to move from 2-dimensional vision boards, SMART goals, and affirmations to 3-dimensional thinking, I know how to get you there. In fact, YOU know how! I can show you a way to tap into that inner resourcefulness and become the person that lives in YOUR vision.

Well, something’s working

I went to England last week. My weight before I left was 210, and my glucose levels were averaging about 110 per week. On the jet, I had chosen “Diabetic” meals when I booked the flights, so that’s what they thought they gave me.

To understand what diabetics need, I compiled the list of things to avoid when you’re diabetic. The key is avoiding carbohydrates which can come from starchy or sugary foods:

  1. sugary drinks
  2. transfats
  3. White bread, rice, pasta
  4. Fruits
  5. fruit-flavored yogurt
  6. Sweetened breakfast cereals
  7. Flavored coffees
  8. Honey, maple syrup, brown sugar
  9. Dried fruit
  10. Packaged snack foods such as pretzels
  11. Fruit juices
  12. Potatoes, especially fries

All of the diabetic meals on my flights included potatoes (12) and bread (3) of some sort. 2 of the snacks consisted of packages of pretzels (10). I had melons and strawberries (4) for lunch and dinner. I had a brown sugar glaze (8) on the carrots and teriyaki sauce on my chicken. The salad had a fruity dressing (4). I got strawberry yogurt (5) as a snack. So the difference between my diabetic dinner and the normal one was that mine tasted like cardboard.

Then I got to the summit location: Stanbrook Abbey near Worcester. The buffet had English bacon which looks like ham, sausages, baked beans, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon (!), mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, hash browns, cheese, cold cuts, and tea. I didn’t have the hashbrowns or the mushrooms (except that 1st day). Then lunch had some sort of small meat dish with potatoes or pizza or pasta. Dinner consisted of either chicken breast and sides, or beef in some sort of casserole.

Needless to say, it was difficult to avoid the carbs. In fact, I messed up on every meal except breakfast. BUT, my glucose numbers were below 100 4 days in a row. Does that make sense? I was eating 3 meals a day instead of 2, and I was eating the wrong stuff, yet my numbers were DOWN. Hmmm. Well, calories are calories. There was no way I was going to get home from England weighing the same as when I left. 😦

But Jennifer and Andra waved their magic wands and declared that anything eaten in England stayed in England. HA! So I had linguine carbonara. I had shepherd’s pie (once with beef, and once with chicken…they have strange flocks here, apparently. I had potatoes, bread, or pasta every day, but even with all those carbs, I was below 100 in my glucose levels all 4 days of the summit! Something was strange. Then I got home and my glucose levels had climbed up to 167 one day. The numbers are below 100 again now, though.

What was the result of that fiasco that was my diet during this week? I was still at 210 lbs. on 4/11. And I was at 205 lbs. yesterday, 2/14. ???!!!!!

I don’t know how to process this information.

Day of Atonement

Just saw an article stating that we should abandon the holiday of Thanksgiving and replace it with a day of atonement.

There is one. This year, it was September 15/16. That is the Jewish tradition: Yom Kippur being the beginning of the new year, and this is preceded by the self-evaluation of the people. They look at their lives over the past year and see where they sinned and what they can do to please God.

The Muslims have a day of atonement in August and recall Moses crossing the Red Sea and the assassination of the grandson of Mohammed. It, too, is a time of reflection and confession meant to bring people closer to Allah. It is observed in August.

We don’t appear to have one in this country. Why? Is it because we have too much to apologize for?

In order to atone for our sins, we must recognize them.

  1. We’re sorry we brought death and disease to the indigenous peoples on this continent
  2. We’re sorry we stole all the land and exiled people from their hereditary homes
  3. We’re sorry we stole all those souls in Africa and brought them against their will to serve as machines
  4. We’re sorry we changed the laws of involuntary servitude to be permanent and inheritable (if you are a slave, then so are your children and grand children)
  5. We’re sorry we persecuted all the immigrants from Asia
  6. We’re sorry we imprisoned the Japanese Americans in concentration camps
  7. We’re sorry we have raped the land
  8. We’re sorry we invaded and overthrew leaders even though it was none of our business
  9. We’re sorry we have so gravely removed anything nutritious in the food we produce
  10. We’re sorry we have removed everything religious about our religious holidays
  11. We’re sorry we have denied basic inalienable rights to so many members of our society
  12. We’re sorry we have neglected to raise our children to respect others and to be people of character
  13. We’re sorry that we elevate people of bad character to stations of respect and idolize them
  14. We’re sorry we place more value on entertainment than wisdom
  15. We’re sorry that we have abandoned all sense of decency because it’s not as much fun
  16. We’re sorry that we continue to persecute people that are not white
  17. We’re sorry that we refuse to help the poor
  18. We’re sorry that we focus on long-term returns on investment rather than cures for curable situations.
  19. We’re sorry we choose people to represent us and then make them lead instead
  20. We’re sorry we have legislated to the point were any laws broken are relegated to jail time
  21. We’re sorry that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world
  22. We’re sorry that we have fallen so far in the education of our children
  23. We’re sorry that one of the main causes of death is being unable to pay for health care

It sounds to me that we should spend a month atoning! I bet it has sparked some other things you, dear reader, are aware of that need atoning for.

But Thanksgiving is a Harvest Festival. You don’t celebrate the harvest by not eating it! We rejoice in the bounty God has provided us: the food (even if it is less than nutritious), our families, our friends, our freedom, football…

When should we have a time of atonement? How about Advent? Those four weeks before Christmas when we remember the coming of Jesus as a baby. (Even though we think Jesus might have been born in the spring, December 25 was chosen due to the idea that heroic beings were conceived on the same date of their death. Since they believed Jesus died in March, he would have been conceived in March and born in December.) We also look forward to the second coming of Jesus, at the end times. WHEN EVERYONE WILL BE JUDGED!

Think about it. When is the time when the most people are charitable? That’s when the Salvation Army buckets and ringers come out. That’s when they have food drives for the poor. That’s when more people serve in soup kitchens. That’s when people send donations to the poor in other countries as well. Charity is one way of making atonement.

When we recall the predictions of the end of times, don’t we also examine our lives and those of our families and our enterprises to see if they’re in alignment with God’s law? This is not an easy process as most people never think of unintended consequences. Should we not examine how our government behaves and those we have chosen to represent us? Are they following Godly precepts? If they are, there should be some acts of atonement as well.

By all means, YES, let’s assign a time of atonement for this country. But let’s not forget to be thankful for what we have. Do not turn this celebration into a time of mourning.

If we remember why we look forward to the second coming of Jesus, maybe, just maybe Christmas means a bit more. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqOOUJFv1n0) Maybe in buying gifts and decorating we add a gift to the child who will get none. Maybe we pray for forgiveness and then forgive someone. Maybe we remember WHY Jesus came and we save someone. Maybe we remember how Jesus came and we care for someone who needs it. Maybe, as Jim Rohn used to put it, we just use the last month of the year to reflect on the good and the bad, and plan for our next year. And when we plan, we don’t just write down our goals and what we wish to accomplish and acquire. We make use of the perspective we have gained throughout the past year, apply the wisdom we have gained, and align ourselves with our new worldview.

The Fear Factor

I belong to an eclectic group of women who are entrepreneurs and coaches. They are absolutely brilliant! For instance: Tuesday we were discussing Machiavellian Philosophy! Really!

He said,

“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved”

and also:

“it is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

This discussion has already inspired one blog post, and now, it has inspired a realization! When you look on Facebook or the news or the rhetoric, you will see lots of threats out there. One side insists you should be afraid of COVID and to protect you from this dread disease (and it does kill lots of people and causes permanent damage in others!) the country will mandate safety measures. The other side insists you should be afraid that the government is whittling away your rights and freedoms for their own nefarious purposes. Remember when you could go to the airport and sit with your loved ones at the gate until they got on the plane? Remember when you didn’t have to remove belts, change, shoes, pins, purses, or briefcases to go into a courthouse or a sporting event? Those restrictions were added to prevent people from crashing a plane into a building or shooting up the venue.

In discussing the philosophy of fear Tuesday, we found it to be true that fear and love cannot occupy the same space. The cure for fear could be as simple as a hug, a shoulder to cry on, or just sitting and listening. The cure for love is suspicion, uncertainty, and fear.

This started with the Viet Nam War. We were told this was a just cause. But it wasn’t a clear-cut situation by a long shot, and we were exposed to the uncertainties, the barbarism, and the horrors of war. How? By videos shot by the newsmen in-country. The main focus was that you couldn’t trust the government. Then, you couldn’t control the government. Then there was the Democratic Convention in Chicago that erupted in riots. Once again, the cameras were rolling. You could not trust the police. It was the age of protest. You couldn’t trust the Church. Your personal rights and freedoms were being trampled by the people you were supposed to depend on.

What was the source of all this fear? THE MEDIA! It is often called the Fourth Estate. Our government is divided into the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Legal Branch, and they are all supposed to be equal to each other in power so no one has exclusive say in every matter. The Executive branch makes policy, but then it has to be ratified by the legislature to make sure it is good for the people they represent. Then it has to pass the legal test to see if it conforms to the Constitution. The Legislature decides where money is spent and how programs are to be administered. It can be either vetoed or endorsed by the Executive branch and either accepted or challenged by the Legal branch. The Legal branch can set up a ruling but it cannot make a law. Seems pretty balanced, doesn’t it? The media, however, is not chosen by the people nor appointed by the government. It exists to make money. The purpose is to keep the public informed, but there are no regulations on how it is supposed to do that.

Look at the fear-mongering and follow the logic. What party benefits from the fear of communism/socialism and the removal of inalienable rights? Do they get money? Do they get compliance? Do they get outrage from their constituents? They may get another seat in the house or senate, but it doesn’t really profit them. What party benefits from the fear of unchecked disease, false reporting of statistics, inaccurate information? The same results as the other party. What does the media get for spreading fear on both sides? Advertising dollars! The media profits from working the fear aspect on both sides of every issue!

Who, then, is the ultimate ruler? The people with the most power? It ISN’T the politicians and the rich–they may have a small influence, but they cannot control the media. Who is ruling by fear then? The Media. They gain power through their constant feeding of the Fear Machine they have created. They get rich and influential enough to control what we see and hear, and they don’t care about the outcome or the effect it has on the people of this country. They care about power, money, and influence, and they rule absolutely based on Machiavellian concepts. They are not responsible to the people they serve. Their only oversight is presumed self-governance and integrity. Integrity has not, as such, played an important part in what is reported and how. They influence policy; they influence elections; they influence buying trends; they influence fashion and style; they influence our treatment of people who are not like us; they influence how and which laws are to be enacted; they influence how we react to such laws.

The messages we get saying “Don’t trust the media!” get changed to “Don’t trust THAT media, ours is right…”

So here we are, sitting in the middle.

  1. Don’t trust the politicians
  2. Don’t trust the rich
  3. Don’t trust the poor
  4. Don’t trust your employers
  5. Don’t trust the unions
  6. Don’t trust the Church
  7. Don’t trust the foreigners
  8. Don’t trust science
  9. Don’t trust big pharma
  10. Don’t trust your doctors
  11. Don’t trust your friends or family
  12. Don’t trust your acquaintances if they do not believe 100% like you on every issue
  13. Don’t trust people whose first words include, “You must trust me!”

You’re not paranoid if everyone really is out to get you. You are much more inclined to be influenced if you are isolated.

And who is spreading this fear? The media. And who profits? The media. And what do they gain? Influence, power, and money.

What is it worth?

Labor and value

Adam Smith and David Ricardo argued that all value comes from labor, and the value of something is in the amount of labor it took to produce it.

But Henry George understood that this is backward. The value of something lies in how much labor we’re willing to exchange for it.

Too often, we’re tempted to price things based on what they cost us to make. It’s more useful to price things based on what they’re worth to those that might want to buy them.

This is a quote from Seth Godin’s blog. He is a very wise man.

How much ARE we willing to pay for things we want to buy? Look at shoes, for instance. There is, I suppose, a lot of effort in designing footwear for specific types of activities, specific types of feet, and specific design elements such as color and logo. What do they cost to make? What would you consider a fair mark-up for the profit over the cost of manufacturing?

Do you believe your every day, run-of-the-mill shoes are worth $165? If so, why do so many go to Walmart and PayLess to get cheaper versions of those shoes? What exactly are the shoes for? Protecting your feet from injury so you can run or walk longer without causing damage is the main use. We also buy shoes to correct arch problems. Some buy shoes with extra support for sporting activities. Others buy them to match the jacket and purse they’re wearing at the time. But if all they did was protect our feet from injury, who would pay $165 for a pair?

How much ARE we willing to pay for the convenience of not having to cook for ourselves? The average price we pay is between $4 and $7 per person. So for 4 hamburgers, 4 small fries and 4 drinks, we pay $16 to $28.

  • $2.00 for a 2-liter bottle of soft drink.
  • $2.00 for 8 hamburger buns.
  • You can get 10 pounds of potatoes for $5.00.
  • at $4.00/pound, you can get 2 pounds of hamburger

In other words, you could have enough ingredients to feed 8 people instead of 4. Our time for 20 minutes of prep and cooking is converted to, (and this is ironic), about $15/hour. But you must understand that fast food restaurants make all their profit on the drinks. They give us 12 oz. of soft drink in a glass 1/2- 2/3 full of ice. The biggest expense in the meal is the drink cup. Because they buy in bulk, their burgers and precut fries are much much cheaper than what an average person pays. The cost of the ingredients then is 1/4 the price they charge. Labor is about 1/3 of the cost, the profit margin is about 3-5%. The rest of the cost goes to fixed costs like building rent, franchise fees, insurance, and utilities. If all you wanted to do is eat, would it be worth the 20 min of prep time and cooking to save you 50% on your costs?

Now imagine you are sick. Is your health something that you price shop on? If you’re diabetic, what would you be willing to pay to stay healthy? We are willing to pay $600 for a dose of insulin that costs the company a miniscule percentage of that. The companies that manufacture this don’t care what the profit margin is. They charge that much for something people need that much because they CAN. They know people are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money because we value our health and life as something essential. (Well, duh!) Should people decide they are NOT going to pay that much and refuse to buy it, they’ll die! That will show those heartless companies a thing or two. The concept of supply and demand has no meaning because reducing the demand doesn’t reduce the price. It is the same as allergy pens…epi pens. If you are allergic to bees and you get stung, are you going to haggle as to whether the shot should cost $50 and now costs $700 with no change in delivery system or contents? No?

If you look at all these examples, they obviously are NOT basing their prices on the costs of manufacturing plus a profit, but they are charging what they think the market can bear. They are pricing their items and services based on the value to the people that want to buy them.

They believe (and rightly so) that fashion and comfort are more important than just foot protection.

They believe that convenience is more important than nutrition.

They believe that living is more important than money and equal access.

This is where a high moral standard comes in. If you believe in a cost + a reasonable profit and price your goods and services in accordance with that principle, you will be in the minority. Then you have to ask yourself: Is profit more important than accessibility and common sense? You may undersell your competitors and come through with a modest profit, but will it allow you to buy that big house and nice car? Is that important? What is it worth, to you?

Where are you going?

When you’re in the car with us and you ask, “Where are we going?” whoever’s driving points out the windshield and says “That-a-way!” It gives immediate direction but doesn’t tell you how fast or what the ultimate destination is. Not Helpful, but it’s technically correct. If you are in the car and not driving, will the ultimate destination be something over which you have control? Will the speed and the options for the quickest route, the one with the least traffic lights, the one with the least traffic, the scenic route, the one where you don’t get lost or anything else about the actual travel be anything you can influence? Maybe, if you whine loud enough. Most likely, however, you, as just a passenger on this madcap adventure, have no part in any of the decisions.

For the sake of perspective, let’s say we all get together to discuss traveling to a State Park for a weekend. You and your friends decide on the weekend and one of you gets assigned the task of reserving a spot for you all to stay. Some of your friends have tents, some have campers, some want to rent a cabin. You can’t agree so you all pick a landmark to meet together at a specific time. You, intrepid leader, LOVE this park and you want to get there early and stay in the park, but your son decides he doesn’t want to get up that early and opts to ride with his best friend who’s leaving after work that day. You don’t believe that’s a good idea because you know what his friend’s car is like and do not trust it or the driver to get to the right place in a reasonable time. Your son argues that he’s perfectly capable of handling anything that comes up and is familiar with all the ins and outs of getting to this park as he’s traveled with you on numerous occasions. Finally, you agree.

You arrive at the campsite and set up and have a wonderful lunch. You fly kites and think, “My son would love this! But he’s not here.” You go on a short hike and take pictures of the beautiful views, and note, “My son would be telling me where to stand to get the best framing.” You get back to camp and start supper. “My son would be recalling all the crazy adventures we had trying to cook on some of our other trips.” At the appointed time you go to the meeting place. You wait, and you get a phone call from one of your friends. “We decided to stay in the motel tonight and were so tired we took a nap and can’t get there for another hour.” The wife gets an IM from her friend, “We couldn’t fit all the stuff in the car and had to rent a trailer and it took us three hours to get all the paperwork done and the thing packed. We should be pulling in some time in the morning.” Nothing from the son. You wait another hour, and none of the rest of your group shows up, so you call them and text them and IM them. One rings and rings and informs you that their voice mail is full. Another replies, “Was that this week?” Another just doesn’t answer the message. So, disappointed, you go back to your campsite. Still nothing from your son.

You inform all the people on your current list, the one that includes all the people who say they are still coming and even your son whom you assume is coming that you will meet at the big dining hall at the welcome center for breakfast. The next morning, you go to the dining hall, and you reserve a table for 10 and sit and wait. After an hour’s worth of waiting and 3 cups of coffee, you decide to order anyway. You finish your breakfast and still no one shows up. You contact them all again. The one in the motel decided to have the continental breakfast since it was free, and were unable to find the campsite so they went back to the motel. The one with the trailer pulled in to discover that there wasn’t a reservation in your name or theirs. They had traveled to a different RV park with a similar name. You tell them it was a State Park, not an RV park, and they’re mad and frustrated and decide not to waste any more time on this and head home. Still nothing from the son.

You go to see the bow and arrow demonstration. Then you go horseback riding, and then head to the main event with the old-time melodrama followed by fireworks. Still nothing from the son. The next morning, you enjoy watching the sunrise, have a great breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs and coffee, clean up, and leave the park with fond memories and some amazing pictures.

You get home and there’s your son. He’s lying on the couch, his arm in a sling, bandages around his legs and face all swollen up.

He got to his friend’s house and nothing was packed, but he didn’t know that. He threw his go-bag into the back of the car and they headed off. “I had never traveled to this park in the dark, so none of the landmarks looked the same. He didn’t have a map, and the gps kept sending us down unpaved roads that bounced the signal around. At one point we were near the town, and it bounced to fifteen miles on the other side of the river and kept telling us to return to the route. We turned down a gravel road that turned into a rock road, that turned into a suggestion of a road and ended up axel-high in mud. We had to go to the farm house and have the farmer pull us out with his tractor. I wrenched my shoulder when we were trying to get the car out. We got back onto a paved road but had no idea where we were and started to argue. He confessed that he didn’t care if he met up with his parents and didn’t want to go on the trip in the first place. I said I’d promised you I’d be here and he kicked me out of the car!!!! About then is when I noticed that my phone was out of charge. I headed off to where I thought I’d last seen the town.

“I was hungry so I got some stuff out of my pack to snack on and sat down on the edge of the road. I ate some and since I was exhausted from trying to move the car and walking, just fell asleep next to the tree. I was awakened in the middle of the night to hear these weird sounds. Raccoons had gotten into my snacks. I wasn’t thinking straight and I tried to grab them away and the raccoons were not happy and wanted to bite and scratch me. I didn’t know they could run that fast. They tore my legs up some, but not as bad as the raspberry bushes I crashed into. I fashioned a sling for my arm as the shoulder was really hurting then, and then grabbed the ace bandages and wrapped up my legs. Does blood come out? I got to the town about 4 in the morning, and found a motel. As I looked like some sort of hobo, he didn’t want to rent a room to me. I reached for my credit card to pay for the room and realized my friend had used it to fill up his car and STILL HAD IT. I had $12 in my wallet. The guy sent me to the police station to see if they could help me get my card back–meaning, they’re not going to do anything to help you or let you sleep in the lobby!

“I went down to the police station, and they didn’t believe the credit card story. They sent me to the homeless shelter. I had to fill out all sorts of paperwork and they wanted to know if I was abused and did they need to send CPS over. That unknown number that called you about 6 this morning was them and they didn’t even leave a message. I got a few hours of sleep, but I didn’t want anyone to touch my wounds as I wasn’t sure they had any medical training at all. There was no place to charge my phone. I borrowed one and called my friend, Bobby to come and pick me up, and he came for me about noon. We went to the city park for lunch, and he discovered, you guessed it, a bee hive. It was in the slippery slide and he decided it wasn’t safe for little kids and he was going to knock it down. No amount of screaming on my part made him change his mind, and then suddenly both of us were screaming. The cops came and recognized me and told me in no uncertain terms to get the heck out of their town as I was a trouble maker. Bobby dropped me off here and went to his doctor for the bee stings he got on his arms, torso, and face. Can you take me to the doctor?”

We all have free will. Had the son gone with his you, his family, he would have enjoyed some wonderful experiences. But even though his plans were to go to the same location, his means of transportation was not reliable. The timing was off causing him to travel this well-known route in the dark. His friend wasn’t motivated to go and had not made any preparations. The difference in the perspective caused the boys to argue and may have ruined the friendship. All these unpleasant experiences were associated with a destination that the son had previously thought was a fun place to go. None of the things he was expecting came to fruition. The joy he sought was time without stress with his friend, and he got time with a lot of stress instead. He thought separation from his parents would give him more autonomy and yet he was subjected to the same powerlessness because his friend was driving. His friend, being young and inexperienced, did not know how to prepare, how to plan, how to set a goal and reach it. He was expecting his friend to be as knowledgeable and calm and cool under pressure as you.

When we go our own way, and it’s not God’s way, we may get to the same destination, but not in the same shape.

Experts

Seth Godin’s Blog

Let the experts be experts. If it were easy enough to do after watching a youtube video, why would we need experts? Wouldn’t a diligent person, having watched all the videos and studied all the online information available be able to perform like an expert? It takes life experience to contribute to your expertise? Oh.

He’d rather stuff be done by an expert. I’d say check the credentials first. Surgery by a surgeon is good. Surgery by a tree surgeon, not so much. Surgery by a certified doctor is good. Surgery by a doctor certified delusional and OCD may not be as good. (No the organs have to be in order according to SIZE!) And check the diploma on his wall to make sure the names match. Dr. Frankenstein might be a good choice if you have multiple organ failures, but not your first choice if you have hepatitis.

An unskilled laborer who was over 500 years old with no experience in ship-building built the ark. It sailed for about a year before it was grounded. The Titanic was built by experts…it lasted 4 days.