Monday, November 24, 2008

Living In the Cubicle

A majority of offices these days are semi-open cubicles rather than individual closed offices. Some companies even have moved their executives into cubicles just like the staff (albeit in somewhat larger cubicles!).

Beyond what you may experience in your workplace, do you ever get the feeling that you are living your whole life in a kind of cubicle? There are windows through which you can look out at your world but not really participate in what is going on “out there.” Sometimes, we may actually see this as a way to protect ourselves from having to be involved.

I began to think about the idea of living in a cubicle after reading an email from a friend who recounted a gathering recently attended where it seemed each person had some particularly difficult experience they were currently facing. I suddenly imagined how life sometimes is like that cubicle and how it seems that the windows are closing up and becoming walls. We feel isolated from whatever the view had been through that now closed window. Then I imagined that I turned around and, behold, there was another window! The view was different. It was refreshing. It was colorful. It was all the things the previous window/view had lost.

I was reminded of the time-honored saying: When one door closes, another opens. I also remembered the words from Revelation: Behold, I have set before you an open door, which none can close. (Rev.3:8). When, or if, we come upon that feeling of being closed in, cut off from others, hopefully we will remember to turn our attention to new viewpoints. There are always options available to us when it comes to how we view our lives. As one view closes, look to the new, open doors. When you feel alone or are experiencing a loss of some kind, remember you are not alone. A new viewpoint offers new resources, whether they are new friends, a new environment, a new job or simply a refreshed sense of self. Never accept the supposed limitations of the cubicle in which you may find yourself.

Personally, I am grateful for new viewpoints that bring new opportunities and new friends. It feels even better when they are not replacements but additions.

Wishing you the best for Thanksgiving, and always!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Clash of Expectations

Like many of us I have mostly my own experiences from which to draw the lessons of life. If I allow myself to be open to the lessons as they come along, I will most likely find satisfying growth as the outcome.

One of the life lessons that I have had many opportunities to face through the years is that of competing expectations between two or more persons. It is not that people start out to compete. It is that more often than not, when a project goes awry it turns out those engaged in it had different expectations of what was to be done, how it was to be done and who was going to do it. When you get right down to it, they may not really agree on what the goal was in the first place.

When this difference in expectations surfaces (and it almost always will be a surprise) it can be devastating to the project and the relationships between those involved. Sometimes the blowup can scatter the emotions, the respect and the trust one person has for another. If this happens, it is essential to find a way to defuse the negative energy so as to not destroy the connection with the other person or the project.

If what you were attempting to accomplish is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Find a way to resolve the problem. Find a way to be the agent of change by returning to your spiritual center point for clarity of your purpose. In finding and reaffirming your purpose you will be in a better position to communicate it to your partners. They will then be in a better position to share theirs with you. It really only takes one person in a group to get clear for others to begin to clarify their own views. Then communication can begin on a new level of respect and trust.

How to accomplish this “fix” is not as difficult as one might think. At first you may feel threatened. Your body may actually shake with fear of losing something important—a friendship or a dream. Take a deep breath! Remember the idea and creative energy that brought forth this project, that brought you together with the others involved. There was a feeling of confidence, trust and a willingness to risk together. That really has not changed even though a disparate vision of the project may have surfaced. With that deep breath re-envision your dream and your positive relationship with your partners. With that deep breath reaffirm your belief in your ability to clearly communicate with the others sharing this dream.

Families often encounter situations where different expectations surface. We move along together, often assuming we are each seeing things the same way and want the same results. The fact of the matter is no two of us ever see things exactly the same way. Think for a moment of two people standing ten feet apart and looking at some object, such as an automobile. One might see the front grill, the other may be looking at the doors on the side of the car. Same car, different viewpoint. Once we realize we have the same general goal or vision, we can agree to examine each other’s particular insight about it.

One key is being honest in your dealings with family or partners. You cannot pretend to be working together or sharing a dream when you really are not. It is better to say, “That is not my dream. That is not what I want to be doing.” Do not lead others to believe you are sharing something in common. Once it is established that you have separate goals or priorities you can honor the choice you each have made and go on about your own dream.

Unresolved Anger

As I lay semi-conscious before falling asleep I suddenly found myself in a fantasy dialogue with a friend to whom I had long ago sent an article having to do with the interpretation of some ancient scrolls that had finally been deciphered. The friend wrote back with a point-by-point debate about the findings. I thought at the time, “Okay, so you have a different opinion about the matter,” and I let it go.

Then the old “feel-o-meter” began to hit the red zone in my fantasy dialogue. My response to my friend went something like this, “Wait a minute! I wasn’t asking for a debate on Biblical authenticity. I just thought you would be interested in the article. You don’t have to prove your scholarship to me, and I sure as hell don’t have to prove mine to you!”

Bam! There it was. Strong feelings of anger that I didn’t even know I had about a long past situation. Obviously I had a “load” about his dismissal of my effort to share something I thought would be of interest. Frankly, I was a bit taken aback that I had these strong feelings of anger, especially since the experience was a number of years ago and I had not thought of it since. This is a great example of how the “little foxes spoil the vines,” as Jesus pointed out in a parable.

I would not suggest that we necessarily dig around in our subconscious looking for slights that we may have experienced in the past or suppressed anger. However, I certainly encourage examining such feelings when they do surface. As long as we do not face the reality of hidden, suppressed anger, it will slowly eat away at our very being. We may find ourselves expressing strong feelings that are out of proportion to a current situation but which are the release of those pent up past experiences.

When such feelings surface, it is time to consciously acknowledge them and seek to replace them with forgiveness, where necessary, and love for and acceptance of each person’s individuality. If you find your “feel-o-meter” hitting the red zone apparently out of the blue, consider it a blessing that has come to you so you can finish up the unresolved anger. This is part of learning to let it go!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A New Dawn

The other day I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about the election (like almost everyone else) and my friend mentioned how it looked like we had a real opportunity to restore a positive image of our country in the world. I reflected that I found myself feeling really happy for a change, like a heavy malaise had been lifted. Thinking about this discussion later it seemed like a new dawn had begun.

Like so many millions of others following the election I was deeply moved by the sense of promise that had been awakened across not only our country, but also around the world. This morning as I read the paper I came across Paul Krugman’s editorial. The Nobel Prize winning economist began by saying, “Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, is a date that will live in fame forever. If the election of our first African-American president didn’t stir you, if it didn’t leave you teary-eyed and proud of your country, there’s something wrong with you.”

That is exactly how I felt. I am so proud of our fellow Americans that we could see through the haze of despondency and fear and elect a person as president who has the calm, thoughtful demeanor to set us on a new path toward personal and social reconstruction. We may not all have voted for President Barack Obama, but he is now the president for us all. He is the one faced with the task of setting our course for at least the next four years. He will need all the help he can get. So far, it seems to me he is doing a pretty good job of surrounding himself with the wise, energetic and positive people necessary to getting that job done.

It’s a new dawn! I for one am going to enjoy basking in the sunlight of that dawn and the promise of the new day it portends.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Wish I Had Not Seen These!

I cannot help but write this message. It is a reaction, and I usually do not like myself when I react. However, I need to say this, whether or not it needs to be said.

We just made history as a nation. We rose up as a nation, the majority of us, and decided we have had enough of the bitterness, the hate and the divisive behavior exemplified by the Republican administration and the President and Vice-President in particular. And yet, already I have begun to receive forwarded communications continuing the hate and prejudice that have dimmed the light of our nation for many years and particularly in the last eight.

I have never wanted this web log to be about politics, but I cannot fail to allow my disappointment to be registered. I am proud that I live in a country where you can pretty much say whatever you want and I would defend that right. That does not mean that I think what you say represents intelligence or consideration or patriotism. To be part of the “hate community” by letting such activities and statements go unchecked is not acceptable to me.

Argue all you want to about thinking McCain should have been elected. He was not. Get over it! Now we must find the points upon which we can agree or at the very least agree to disagree with tolerance. I will not waste your time trying to convince you that my vote was smarter than yours. That would be ludicrous! Our votes are equal. In a Democracy, however, the one with the most votes assumes the leadership and the rest of us must rally to support those leaders through constructive action, considered criticism and gratitude that we have the right to continue to participate even though we may not have been on the winning side. In a world rife with discord and inequality we now see hundreds of millions of people the world over rejoicing with hope for a brighter future no matter where they live! They sense that America can once again redeem itself and truly represent the hopes and dreams of our better selves.

I absolutely respect your right to your opinions. I only hope you will find it reprehensible, as do I, that prejudicial hate mail continues to be forwarded around the world.

Now, my friends, if this article offends you, you probably won’t care much about anything else I have to say. If that is the case, I urge you to ask to be removed from my distribution list. Click here: and type “unsubscribe” in the subject line and send it to me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Fat Lady Has Sung!

At 11:00 PM EST by MSNBC

I have been told by a trusted source, Flat Stanley, that the fat lady has sung and the election is over. The President has been chosen! Flat Stanley is a world traveler who is visiting me directly from my grandson’s home in Cocoa, Florida. Kyle is seven years old and Flat Stanley is part of his school project. You can check out this interesting program in general at:

I don’t know about you, but I for one am glad it is finally all over but the shouting! Whether your candidate won not, it is now time for us all to come together and support the new leaders who will be taking this country forward for the next four years.

This has been an extraordinary campaign in all respects. More people have become involved in the various campaigns from the primaries through the election. It has attracted and spent the most money ever. It has lasted longer than any previous campaign. It has demonstrated the typical demagoguery we have come to expect from politicians. It has produced some of the most unpleasant (and untruthful) advertising ever. The Internet has become the new platform for waging a campaign, with both positive and negative effects. The broad diversity of our populace has been demonstrated and our cultures blended. There has also been a parallel high road of integrity and compassion at some points shown by some.

No matter whom you voted for, I hope your candidate won. Also, no matter who won nothing of great value can be accomplished if we simply return to the sidelines to see what happens next. Will we now continue to actively work to build a better society, to meet with those with different opinions and who made other choices? Will we look for areas where we can agree in order to take the actions our passionate participation hoped for? It is up to YOU and it is up to ME. Concerned discussions are wanted. Tolerance and trust are needed. Expect the best from those we have elected and hold the faith! Stay involved at whatever level you are able.

A better homeland and world is possible for all of us!