Spectrum of Life

Spectrum of Life

In the simplest of terms, a spectrum is the range of possibilities.

From here to there, the rainbow is a spectrum of color and a reminder of the enduring hope inherent within the human spirit.

Imagine the arc of a rainbow divided into thirds. From the left to part way up is the first third, the center portion is the second third, and the remainder to the right is the final third. If asked to discard one (or more) of the thirds, which do you choose?

Seems absurd to ask, doesn’t it?

Yet, how many people do you know who are content with the spectrum of their life?

There are always three parts to the story of each life. We have no choice to the number of Acts in this Play, which makes no provision for rehearsals, or encores. We do have choices in the script. In fact, we are the writer, director, producer, and actor of this Play of Life.

Act I ~ Honoring the Past

Act II ~ Respecting the Present

Act III ~ Trusting the Future

In listening to people for more than half a century, my discovery is that many of us get stuck in a single Act.

For those with a rich family heritage, the Past is a comfortable place from which to boast. For others, empire building is an obsession for every moment of the Present. For those poor souls enduring the hand of fate, only the Future offers solace.

The result of one-act Plays is the same as a Rainbow missing any of its parts: limited range of color and story.

Act I ~ Honoring the Past

We are social creatures designed for community. No one can be an island, or god unto themselves. In fact, we only exist because two people decided to Tango. Then, there were many others from the moment of birth to this very point in time, who bent our twig and shaped us into who we are.

Act II ~ Respecting the Present

Blink and you’ve missed it. What was is gone and what was to be is, now, this very moment. Because of its preciousness, many remark that it is a Gift. Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive. This is where we make our decisions and do our good work. We are on stage for the entire world to see and enjoy.

Act III ~ Trusting the Future

Fresh and clean, tomorrow waits patiently for us to embrace the joy of the undiscovered. To do so, we must boldly take the next step forward into the unknown. That uncertainty will separate the fearful from the faithful. Heroes are chiseled into legends through their effort to do what others say is impossible.

Now, the questions become:

“What storylines will flow through the script of your life?”

“Which directions will provide the variety of paths to your discoveries?”

“How many productions will provide the resources for financing your dreams?”

And, the most important question of all:

“Are you ready to share with the world all of YOU?”

The one who is good and bad, beautiful and ugly, precocious and cautious, the one-of-a-kind, broke-the-mold, unique creation of YOU is the only one who can present the Acts and Spectrum of your life!

www.kimfoard.com

Truth and Freedom

Truth and FreedomIn the journey from childlike innocence to adult discernment, one trait requires a metamorphosis.

Naivety contains the seeds for discovery and destruction.

As to which we will nurture, that choice is within our control.

To fall under the influence and control of another person is dangerous. A lack of worldly experience and understanding can result in harm, to ourselves and others. Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Yet, these are the naive qualities all children enjoy and we, older kids, can continue to practice:

  • Free from guile, cunning, or sham
  • Absence of complexity, artifice, or pretentiousness
  • Childlike directness, simplicity, and innocence
  • Spontaneity and freedom from self-consciousness
  • Sincerity and unaffected simplicity
  • Absence of insidious or treacherous cunning

As we practice the pure qualities of naivety, there is one, very, large caveat: Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. In other words, the Machiavellians, Narcissists, Borderlines, Histrionics, and Manipulators do not subscribe to a mutually beneficial Code of Honor.

To combat the scurrilous tactics of these Con Artists, only one weapon is required: The Truth.

Before we engage in daily interaction with the Disturbed Characters, the Truth empowers us to be Free.

  • Our conscience is free from regret and blame.
  • We boldly step through the doors of new opportunity.
  • The benefit of our actions lifts the spirits of all in our care.

From the book, Who’s Pulling Your Strings?, by Harriet B Braiker, PhD, comes this powerful observation:

Think of direct, clear communication—especially when it is about the manipulation itself—as the psychological equivalent to holding up a cross to a vampire. Most manipulators recoil in the face of being “busted,” and the air goes out of the pressure they are trying to create just as easily as it escapes a punctured balloon.

Direct, clear communication is just another way of making reference to: The Truth.

From the sages of old is this simple request: “I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!”

The truth will set us free.

www.kimfoard.com

Education and Experience

Dream RulesBorn with an innate sense of curiosity, I have always wanted to know: “Why?”

It didn’t take long to discover that parents, teachers and friends were wearied by an endless barrage of questions. In fact, discovery was made that they didn’t have the answers to many of my questions!

Then, in about the sixth grade, a treasure trove of information was found: A Library. Books galore, each with a story to tell, chock full of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. An education was just waiting for me.

As time marched forward, I learned much from the stories of others. It was one of those “Good News; Bad News” storylines. The Good News: I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel for each excursion into a new frontier. The Bad News: The view only changes for the lead dog.

Moral of all Stories: We can learn from others all that they know, and no more.

Unless we want to follow others, forever, there is a point of departure from the known, into the unknown. In fact, we can never duplicate the experience of another by listening to the stories of how they did something.

We are unique; our experiences will be, too.

Once our formal education ends, the real learning begins. The process is aptly referred to as the “School of Hard Knocks”. There are plenty of assignments, pop quizzes, final exams, and lessons to be learned. We choose the curriculum and face the consequences of our choices.

As our eyes are opened to Universal Principles, we quickly learn that there is a “right way”: a way that is right for us, individually. That way is different for each of us and can only be learned by courageously taking the steps along our, individual, journey of life.

No one else can do it for us. All of the stories from other people are of limited value. This is our life; we are Trailblazers. There are no maps for territories yet to be discovered.

Upon our return from the wilderness, we have stories to tell, an education to share.

The cycle repeats. Young people receive a glimpse into the world that waits. Soon, they leave the stories behind to do it, Their Way, and then learn: Good judgment comes from experience; Experience comes from bad judgment.

Over the course of our individual journeys, we learn that it takes both: Education and Experience.

Rules Kids Won’t Learn In School

Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2: The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it’s not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won’t make $60,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait ’til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

Rule No. 6: It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of “It’s my life,” and “You’re not the boss of me,” and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it’s on your dime. Don’t whine about it, or you’ll sound like a baby boomer.

Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t. In some schools, they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone’s feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.)

Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)

Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

www.kimfoard.com

Rich Conversation

Imago ShuttleThe world is our stage and we travel across it on the two legs of Family and Work. When each leg is strong and healthy, we stride; when one is weak, we gimp; and when both are weak, we crawl.

The secret to healthy and strong legs of Family and Work: Relationships. The magic elixir for dynamic and vibrant relationships: Rich Conversation.

All we do begins with a thought.

Many think a conversation is defined as, “I’ll talk; you listen.” A few know that conversation is an art form of creative reciprocity.

Narcissists in the first group are infatuated with themselves and their Role Power. Expressionists in the second group are focused on service to others through the synergy of Relationship Power.

Those caught up in the stratosphere of their Role Power operate from the premise that they have all the answers. As a result, they feel quite justified in doing things to others. Their approach is the “easy” one of Process, since they do what they want, when they want and how they want. It is measurable, quantifiable and miserable.

The purveyors of Relationship Power practice in the realm of intangibles. Because they believe People are more important than Process, each day is a new adventure of doing for others. Their journey is the “hard” one of accepting the reality that the only constant in life is change. People change. What they want changes; How they want it changes; and, “Why?” is an oft asked question.

Are we courageous enough to say “Yes!” to the discovery of another person? Do we have the strength to leave our comfort zone of the well-known rut and routine to accept the uncertainty of a new adventure? Can we imagine ourselves strapped into the Captain’s chair of a space shuttle with our hand on the throttle calmly announcing, “I’m-A-Go.”

Imago Relationships

Partners cross a bridge into each other’s worlds, motivated not only by the Receiver’s desire to “hear and understand” but also to meet the Sender’s need to be “heard and understood”; with a commitment to slow down our lives and devote specific uninterrupted time to our relationships. Ultimately saying to the other, “I respect your otherness; I want to learn from it. And, I want to share mine with you.”

Discovering two distinct worlds: Whenever two people are involved, there are always two realities. These realities will always be different in small and large ways, no matter what. And, the reality of the other person can be understood, accepted, valued, and even loved; yet, it cannot be made identical to our own.

Clear communication is a window into the world of your partner; truly being heard is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Without change, there is no growth; we are confined to the fate of remaining stuck in our unhappiness.

Change is the catalyst for healing.

Finally, we learn to see our partners for themselves, with their own private world of personal meaning, their own ideas and dreams, and not merely as extensions of ourselves, or as we wish they were. Our approach becomes, “I want to know how you think.”

A conscious relationship is a spiritual path which leads us home again, to joy and aliveness, to the feeling of oneness we started out with. We learn to express love as a behavior daily, in large and small ways: in other words, in stretching to give our partner what they need, we learn to love. The transformation of our relationships may not be accomplished easily or quickly; we are setting off on a lifelong journey.

As we pack our mental suitcase, let’s celebrate in leaving the limitations of “process” behind and lift our eyes to an unlimited future of “people” exploration, which is just waiting to be discovered in a shuttle christened “Rich Conversation“!

www.kimfoard.com

Help Yourself

Banquet Table of Life

After a short pause for an expression of thanksgiving, Dad would raise his head to look at us and say, “Help yourself!” We would survey the table for the serving dish to our right, make a choice of portion, and then pass it to the left. As our hands offered one, we prepared to receive another.

That was in the day when families gathered at home for the evening meal; a meal that was prepared by Mom with loving effort. In fact, the abundance on the table was a portion of the wealth produced that day: Roast beef, potatoes, salad, vegetable du jour, warm bread, cold milk and a cookie for dessert.

We were connected to the land and understood the importance of working, if we wanted to eat that evening!

Advance forward a couple of generations, and we find a society of fast food and slow thoughts. Diminished are the thrill of the hunt and the sport of accomplishment. Instead, we find whiners with an attitude of entitlement. Unless everything magically appears on a silver platter, they are clueless about their survival. Instead of wanting a hand up, they want a hand out.

The real joy in life is discovered when we understand, “Help yourself!”

Of all creatures, humans are the most helpless at birth. Choices are made for us, and care is provided to us, by parents. Before we can talk, though, we are reaching for that spoon to do it ourselves. For the next five years, we fear little and do everything. We delight in our accomplishments and learn the most from our mistakes. We help ourselves.

Then, we start school. We are taught that there is a right way and a wrong way: Our way is wrong and the right way is only known by those with the answer key. Funny thing, though; that key only works for one set of questions.

Life is different!

After twelve, sixteen, or more years, young adults tip from the conveyor belt of modern education into a world with more pop-quizzes and test-questions than they have answers.

One of two things happen: Either, they realize the extent to which they don’t know what they don’t know and begin to “help themselves” learn it. Or, they point fingers of blame and expect someone else to compensate for their lack of resourcefulness.

I admire the first group and, thoroughly, tease the second about their “Stinkin’ Thinkin’!”

All we do begins with a thought. The most important thought of all is: “I think I can.”

At that moment, we tap into the childhood belief that the world is our oyster; just waiting for us to pry into it for the pearl discovery. We don’t want anyone else messing with our project. In time, we might discover that we need a little coaching on technique. If so, we ask for it; or, we struggle through to re-invent the wheel. Either way, the prize will be ours.

As we sit at the banquet table of life, only we can know what is best for ourselves.

The only way to discover That is to “Help Yourself!”

www.kimfoard.com

Distinguished

Distinguished

Last week, a woman said to me, “I’m open to anything.”

The week before, a woman commented, “I’m all caved up.”

As a man and subject to the impulses of the visual creatures that we are, naturally, the image of Open messed with my mind more so than Closed. As a gentleman and wanting to maintain the PG-rating of this forum, that runaway thought was quickly corralled into the larger issue: Sieves and Stones.

Questions: How far will someone go who is open to anything? How captive is someone who is all caved up?

Answer: Only, they know.

The common thread between the two is that neither has taken the time and energy to discover who they, really, are, or what they want for their lives. It’s so much easier to let someone else make the decisions for them and then be disappointed when things don’t go as fantasized.

Although the phrases were spoken by different women at different times, they are actually the spectrum of dysfunction. Let’s take a look at the combined effect and (unspoken) reality: “I’m open to anything (as long as you keep me happy). (If you misbehave and hurt me) I’m all caved up.”

On one side of the spectrum is an individual with Sieves for boundaries; everything pours through. On the other side of that stormy rainbow is an individual with solid Stones for boundaries; nothing can penetrate their defenses.

One word explains the essence of their craziness: Immaturity.

Children are open to anything and everything, because they lack the perspective, which comes from the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, of education and experience. Those same little kids get their feelings hurt when another person tells them, “No.” Then, they go on to react as either: Rage-ers, by throwing a tantrum; or, Stuff-ers, by pouting.

Mature individuals accept responsibility for their own learning, growing, and doing. Daily, they make a purposeful effort to work on the things within their control and to consciously forgive the rest. They fully understand the importance of the boundaries which define where they end and another person begins. In the simplest of terms, they are: Distinguished.

Definitions:

Characterized by excellence or distinction; eminent.
Dignified in conduct or appearance.
Noble or dignified in appearance or behavior.
Eminent; famous; celebrated.
Advanced in character, attainment or reputation.
Of great significance or value.

Synonyms:

Eminent, great, important, noted, famous, celebrated, well-known, prominent, esteemed, acclaimed, notable, renowned, prestigious, elevated, big-time, famed, conspicuous, illustrious, major league.

Let two distinguished individuals come together and the odds of a mutually rewarding, healthy, and growing relationship skyrocket. One word and two people is the secret to building dynamic relationships and taking our society to new heights of discovery!

www.kimfoard.com

White Lines & PAWS

Dog Cat and White“Just keep your eyes on the white line, until you drive back into blue sky and sunshine.”

In some parts of the country, people drive for days to get out of the city. In Montana, we drive for hours to find one. Unless we’re driving at least 300 miles to do something, it’s probably just not that important!

It was Thanksgiving Day and Family was gathered 350 miles away. My first clue to a little excitement for that morning was at 3:30 AM, as I read the online Severe Weather Alert for blowing and drifting snow in an area known for high winds. The image that came to mind was of the log chain—that the community uses for a wind sock—popping links into snow drifts.

The reality was much different from the imagination. Before I even made it to the area of predicted severe weather, there was no hope in seeing anything on the side of the road. The road had disappeared into a white nothingness.

Blowing and drifting snow?! Who knew, or cared. The world had gone, white!

Visibility was zero. Now, wait. There was visibility. All white! White snow; white air; white road; and a few splotches of white lines were visible. We take them for granted most days: those solid white lines down the edge of a highway. That morning, they were the difference between moving forward and hibernation. A simple stripe of paint offered hope of progress.

It only took another 100 miles and 4 hours, until I drove into blue sky and sunshine.

Eventually, I drove right into the ranch yard and open arms of Family. A special Thanksgiving Day it was. In addition to the traditional fare of food and drink, this day included an opportunity to Meet the Parents. My daughter and her sweetie bravely hosted an event of Thanksgiving for their parents, who had yet to meet.

The meeting, and visiting, was made easier by George and Indie. You see, George is a big, old, grey cat; Indie is a small, young, red-heeler dog. Hence the expression, “Getting along like cats and dogs.” Oh, they get along just fine. Deep down, I do believe there is affection between the two. It’s the expression of the emotion that is comical.

Much more than the yelps and growls, it’s the PAWS which offer the love pats!

While we can learn much from two-legged folk, the lessons tutored by George and Indie made sense of my earlier morning experience of White.

Planning
Action
Will
Stories

Planning ~ You can see it in their eyes, as they think of the next episode of feline and canine adventure.

Action ~ They, literally, spring into it. Any doubts or reservations are pushed aside and they launch full-bore into the episode at hand.

Will ~ Fun will be obtained, by any means necessary to that end. Any resistance to great sport is overcome by sheer willpower.

Stories ~ We will remember, forever, the Day because it is wrapped in the ribbons and bows of the narrative.

My morning of Montana adventure contained all of the elements of PAWS. From the bag of winter survival gear to the full tank of fuel, planning and preparedness were the order of the day. Sitting beside the road in hopes of a kinder and gentler Mother Nature was forgone in exchange for moving forward, one mile at a time. Will-Power was my co-pilot, although, He was white-knuckled and wide-eyed, at times. Then, there are the tall tales—stories to tell the grandkids!

When given the opportunity of the impossible, let’s focus on the solutions available within our PAWS. By putting our hands to the task of finding joy by doing, and our feet to the path leading us to the discovery of an adventure, we find a priceless treasure that is ours, forever.

www.kimfoard.com

Innovators

InnovatorsNew Creations

Doers are focused on Giddy-up Go!

Naysayers are happy with the Status Quo.

“Because something has been done a certain way,”

Is cause for the effect of “the same results each day.”

Those, seeking for a better way, know,

The secret to success is a passion to grow.

Doers are an enigma to the Naysayers.

Those who Do are ostracized by those who Can’t.

The ones who say, “It can’t be done.” are, by choice, in a rut. They might be comfortable there; yet, they have stopped growing. When individuals decide to stop growing, they start dying. The purest definition of a rut: a grave with the ends kicked out.

Let’s break down the word Innovator to see that of which they are made.

In-no-vator

In: They are all in, as in Committed. We might think of the Poker player, who goes “All in.” Or; we consider the athlete, who is “In the game.” Maybe, even, the warrior engaged “In battle.”

No: They are motivated by this little word. At the precise moment they hear it, they gear up. Where, just a heartbeat before, they were tempted to give up, think the goal impossible, believe the effort futile; now, they focus on doing what others say can’t be done.

Vator: They are a fearless combination of Darth Vader and Stealth Raptor. For those of the Star Wars generation, that fictional character was mysterious; for those patriotic souls with a belief in our national symbol, the swiftness and grandeur of the Eagle in flight is exhilarating.

All things new begin with a thought, by an innovator who believes in the “magic” of discovery. A sage proverb advises against stitching new onto old. That which has become old is no place to display that which is new; the new appears out-of-place and, in fact, makes the old look bad. The greater lesson is that, when stress is applied, the new will tear away from the old; the value of both will be diminished.

The moral of this story: For those happy in your ruts, look up to the edges of the known to observe those discovering new frontiers. For those innovators wondering why your efforts are received with less than enthusiastic response, remember and be encouraged: The joy is in the Doing and we learn by Doing; we will, always, enjoy the rewards from learning and growing!

www.kimfoard.com