Game of Life

We, individually, choose our game – the one we are able and willing to play. By making our choice, we can enjoy the great sport of life.

GamesAs encouragement for those struggling with a daily frustration, I will gently offer, “Just play the hand you’ve been dealt.”

Fairly good idea for these reasons:
• This, too, shall pass.
• Your cards might, actually, be better than anyone else’s at the moment.
• And, the fun is in the doing.

Before we launch off into the actual sport of the game, there is one question which has infinite possibilities, “What is the passion at the core of everything you do?

Your response will be different from mine. Mine will be different from anyone else’s. And, therein, is the secret to the Game of Life.

Each of us has the opportunity to choose the games we play.

Since life is the hand of cards to which we awake each morning, I admire those who play theirs with grace and poise. Strength of will and courage combined with the flexibility of thoughtfulness and humility results in a creativity that trumps bitterness every time.

Does that mean we play the games chosen for us by others? The simple and definitive answer is, “No.”

We, individually, choose our game. The one we are able and willing to play. Unless we choose, everyone will have an idea for us. That’s just a Universal Law of human nature.

Unless you’ve encountered a narcissist — enamored of their own visage in the mirror — each of us spends the day looking outward. As a result, it is so much easier to see the foibles of others and what they should do.

Reality check — Who is the only one within our sphere of control? (Hint: not anyone else.) Yes! The answer is a question:

“What is the passion at the core of everything you do?”

You — Me — One person at a time. We answer that.

Or, do we? Have YOU?

If so, then, you have chosen your game. You have studied the rules. You have engaged the competition. You have failed. You have succeeded. You have grown. You have learned.

You have studied even more — this time much harder. You have discovered what you didn’t know – before. More engagement, more failures, more successes, more growth —  and, now, you’re ready to teach.

Passion drives YOU forward.

Each day it will always be something — some days it’s just nice to know what ‘IT’ is.

Because we thrive on the challenge, nothing can upset or frustrate us. We know and have embraced the premise, “What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.”

Let the games begin!

www.kimfoard.com

Super Will

Is it possible to be so strong that others perceive weakness; or, to project an image of strength, while actually being weak?

Super WillIs it possible to be so strong that others perceive weakness; or, to project an image of strength, while actually being weak?

All words are understood, only, in the context of semantics; the individual definitions are gleaned from our personal, unique, educations and experiences. Words like “strong” and “weak” have an extra measure of value, because our feelings are associated with them.

We have memories of “strong” and “weak” people who influenced our lives. Over a period of time, those individuals “flew their flags” to display their true colors. Eventually, we came to understand what was at their core: From the abundance of their heart, by word and deed, they made it crystal clear.

The individuals of strong character were patient, kind, generous, honest, humble, happy, protective, trusting, hopeful, and eternally optimistic.

The individuals of weak character were jealous, envious, boastful, proud, rude, demanding, irritable, resentful, unforgiving, unjust, and generally pessimistic.

As we consider those two sets of words, the emotion of each is palpable. First set of feelings: Warm, fuzzy, soft and easy. Second set of feelings: Cold, prickly, inflexible and hard. A demonstrative epitome of the expression: Hard is easy; Easy is hard.

What is the secret of the strong individuals who offer their, very, best to all? Why are they the heroes of Steel and Velvet? On the outside, they give us the warm fuzzies all over; on the inside, they are of absolute resolve. Answer: At their core is the, sheer, power of will.

Want-To
Intelligence
Latitude
Longitude

Want-To

Beyond the day-dreaming and fantasies, which entertain us all, strong individuals know what they want, what they like, what they will allow, and what they need to do in reaching goals. For them, a goal achieved is just a platform to launch another endeavor. They adopt phrases like “Pedal-through” and “Step-by-step” to give homage to their conviction of constant innovation and growth.

Intelligence

This is much more than simple Mental intelligence. There are smart people, with a plethora of capital-letter abbreviations behind their names, who have little common sense. Strong individuals work to develop additional facets of wholeness: Physical intelligence of health and endurance; Emotional intelligence of awareness and insight; and, Spiritual intelligence of gratitude and openness.

Latitude

Go left, or right, far enough around our globe named Earth and a circle is made. Wherever we go, there we are. Strong individuals know themselves better than anyone else and welcome the uniqueness of others. They quickly move to meet and serve individuals at the point of opportunity. As masters of their crafts, they freely give of their wisdom. Knowing for a certainty, “What goes around comes around.”

Longitude

The cycles and seasons of life are offered in undulating waves of Up and Down. Strong individuals wrap their arms around the variety, which is the spice of life. The crest of a peak brings with it the down-hill coast to a valley and the opportunity for a pedal back up to the top. Through it all, they raise their eyes to the horizon and lift their spirits to the heavens for the inspiration to know the right things to do.

There is, always, more than meets the eye. Still waters run deep and it is impossible to judge books by their covers. Give people time to be heard and understood. Offer to them the, very, best in word and deed; so, they can hear and understand the real you.

What we see is less important than who we be!

At the exact spot of the intersecting lines of Longitude and Latitude will be individuals of supreme Intelligence with the Want-To of sharing their abundance with the universe!

www.kimfoard.com

Help Yourself

As children, we knew the world was our oyster. The journey began with a single step: “I think I can.” The goodness from the banquet table of life waits for us older kids to help ourselves!

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

Tight Fences

In Montana, we have an expression and a tradition: “Good fences make for good neighbors.”

Six Wire FenceIn Montana, we have an expression and a tradition: “Good fences make for good neighbors.”

Those individuals intent upon building a ranch empire will jest, “I don’t want to own the entire state; just what my neighbor has.”

Much more than keeping those types out, the focus of this article is about fencing ourselves in.

Fence me in?!

Literally, I can hear and feel the push-back. The idea of taking personal responsibility for ourselves is a novel thought. For several generations, we’ve had exposure to the 24/7 propaganda: “If it feels good, do it.”

As a result, our “fences” are in disarray; the wires are loose, staples are missing, posts are rotted, and we find ourselves trampling on each other.

There is a better way. It begins with us, individually, from the inside, out. We discover and define ourselves. Then, we build dynamic relationships with others. Regardless of the enterprise, life is all about the people.

Think about the best six-strand, barb-wire, fence you have ever seen. That was a “stretch.” Wasn’t it? There aren’t many six-wire fences. Many ranch managers will build five-wire fences. The hobby-farmers settle for four. And, the rhinestone-cowboys cheat with three. A six-wire fence is a little bit higher, with spaces between the wires narrower, and the boundaries a whole lot tighter!

Nothing goes over, through, or under a six-wire fence. Permission to pass is offered at the gates. With good braces at the corners and every opening, the gates are designed for ease of operation. In our great state of Montana, neighbors are few and far between. When they’re in the mood to visit, we want to graciously provide the way. We know they will respectfully close the gates upon passing through.

Pretty simple.

Yet, some might be wondering, “What do tight Montana fences have to do with life?”

Everything.

Forget about the neighbors for a minute. Let’s focus on ourselves. Harder to do; I know. It’s so much easier to see what others are doing “wrong” and mettle in their business. Since their affairs are beyond our control, let’s re-focus on what is within our sphere of influence. We will find that at the tips of our fingers and looking back at us from our favorite mirror.

Yep, there we are.

Now, ask these questions:

Who am I?

What do I believe?

Where am I going?

Why do I think the way I do?

When will I commit to the future I want?

How many of my friends will help me grow?

The answers to those questions will define YOU and your current condition. Capture that image vividly in your mind’s eye. Close your eyes and save it to the hard-disk of your mind. Open your eyes. Now, go, quickly, to build a six-wire fence around the wonderful creation of YOU.

Barb WireWipe the sweat from your brow, clean the blood from the cuts on your arms, and dab the tears from your eyes as you look (maybe, for the very first time) at YOU. For everyone who makes the effort to build that tight fence, we all see the same thing: Gardens of goodness and Patches of weeds.

After we tidy up the areas of neglect, we feel a sense of peace and tranquility. We thoroughly enjoy what is ours and we generously offer our best to others. In time, we realize that to serve more people in a better way, we must continue to grow.

Fenced PasturesThe best way to do that is to close our eyes, again, and dream: Big dreams, vivid dreams in full color, even those beyond our wildest imagination.

Anything is possible.

Forget the past; it doesn’t matter. Ignore the nagging worry about the future; right here, right now, it’s great to be alive. Position yourself in the center of that marvelous territory (the one protected by the new six-wire fenced boundary) of YOU — and, dream!

Are you there, yet? If so, write down what you just imagined. It’s much more than a fantasy, or a dream. If you can sketch the rough outline and, then, draw a detailed blueprint of that place to which you just went, it can be built.

By standing in the image of that new country of YOU, you will be able to see the steps to take ~ from where you are, to where you want to be!

www.kimfoard.com

Here We Are

It is by our individual choices that we find ourselves, exactly, where we are at the moment. Wherever we go, there we are!

New Year 2011

Last night, at the end of one year and the beginning of another, I was reminded of the expression: Wherever we go, there we are.

I felt a tap on the shoulder while standing in the crowded Bull & Bear Saloon of Red Lodge, Montana. Dancers were kicking up their heels to the music of Wild Bill and the Coyotes. There were only a few tables to hold drinks and conversation. The rest of us were engaged in the bump and shuffle of tight quarters.

As I turned around expecting a polite disclaimer of accidental contact, my eyes met those of someone intent on conversation. Always up for a little social banter with a complete stranger, I listened as she said, “My kids sent me over to ask you to dance.”

Assuring her that I love to dance, I asked for a first name. About the time Becky and I headed for the dance floor, the band plucked the final chords on the last song before a break. Just my luck! Oh, well, accepting that things do happen for a reason, this must be perfect timing for a little conversation before we waltzed into the New Year.

For the next ten minutes, I heard the story of two husbands, four kids (2 by 2; ages 22, 18, 11, and 7) and a pending adventure in Alaska. Yep; as Becky exclaimed, “I need to go find myself, because I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!”

Upon hearing that oft stated phrase, I always wonder, “How can you find something for which you don’t know to look?!”

As dysfunctional as the story-line was, I did have to admire her honesty. Earlier in the evening, I had noticed this woman in a group of Twenty-somethings. She was ordering shots of Tequila and leading the way into oblivion.

How sad.

Sacrificed on the altar of Selfishness were at least two “committed” relationships, four children and all hopes of a family life. Now, I understand, there is surely more facets to the Rest of this Story. What I do know for a fact: We get what we allow.

If we don’t know what we want, that’s exactly what we get: The result of a decision by someone else. That’s what parents do for, and to, children. And, they do it for all of the right reasons. Young children are, too, immature to decide for themselves.

About the age of 12, though, is the Age of Reason; we all start to think for ourselves. Then, in the teenage years we begin turning those thoughts into words and actions (some pleasant; some less than). Sooner, or later, we learn that our actions have consequences.

Society is fairly forgiving in our young adult years. Parents and others will listen to the whining and rationalization about how the world must be picking on the poor, saintly, martyr. Eventually, though, it becomes obvious that:

Wherever we go, there we are!

It is by our individual choices that we find ourselves, exactly, where we are at this moment. No one forced us into our decisions; no one is that powerful. In fact, even God recognizes the importance of free will. We are given opportunities; it is up to us what we do with them.

Becky’s children didn’t make her push through a crowd for the purpose of asking me to dance. Becky made that choice. Her children didn’t ask to be born into a broken home. Becky made that choice. I am absolutely positive those same children don’t want their mother to seek the thrill of a new adventure in Alaska, as she leaves them behind in Montana. Becky is making that choice.

Yes, her tone was that of a teenager as she complained about the past, expressed uncertainty of the present, and looked forward to finding herself in the future.

My amusement of the immaturity surely expressed itself in facial expression, body language, tone of voice and the actual words, playfully, teasing Becky about her choices. Soon, the, real, young adults were looking for new entertainment adventure. Their leader accepted their offer as an appropriate exit strategy from our conversation and off they went, in search of the unknown, by the unknowing.

www.kimfoard.com

White Lines & PAWS

“Just keep your eyes on the white line, until you drive back into blue sky and sunshine.” From the PAWS of a puppy and kitten are lessons for us.

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

Code of Action

One, little, four-letter word is the Code for understanding the process of our growth, and the growth of others. We learn to live, “If it is good, do it with passion.”

According to John Wayne, “A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.”

Behind every computer process are miles and miles of code. It is purposefully written to achieve a specific result.

What is your code? Do you have a creed to live by?

Mother Nature hates a vacuum. Unless we have diligently trained our mind and protected our heart, we are operating on a program designed by another. Rather than being the Captain of our own ship, we might be on autopilot.

Consider this jingle, “If it feels good, …” By rote, we finish the sentence with, “do it.” Why, do we? Grab the controls of your life and let’s examine our codes.

On March 3rd, 2010, the state of Wyoming accepted into law a bill declaring The Code of the West the official state code of ethics. The ten principles come from author James P. Owen and his book Cowboy Ethics.

1. Live each day with courage.

2. Take pride in your work.

3. Always finish what you start.

4. Do what has to be done.

5. Be tough, but fair.

6. When you make a promise, keep it.

7. Ride for the brand.

8. Talk less and say more.

9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale.

10. Know where to draw the line.

There is nothing new under the sun. It, even, seems strange to reference the unwritten that was the guiding light for the early pioneers.

Yet, these principles were also chronicled by the famous western writer, Zane Grey, in his 1934 novel The Code of the West, and by Ramon Adams, a Western historian, in his 1969 book, The Cowman and His Code of Ethics. The Cowboy Code has been communicated in a variety of ways, by an army of fictional and real life heroes.

Knowing what to do — and, Doing it — are two, very, different concepts.

Since the hedonistic programming of our society subtly soothes our selfish nature with the mantra of If it feels good, do It, we might not even know what we are doing.

A better approach to our growth (and, the growth of others) is possible by understanding, If it is good, do it — with Passion.

Speaking of which, let’s consider a simpler way of remembering all of the Code necessary for a life of joy and purpose. One four-letter word contains the foundational elements of good Code — LOVE.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Take all of the code, the perfect lists of ten, from the many tough men, and you will find the true abode, for peace of mind and purpose of will. It is discovered in a Code of Action.

www.kimfoard.com