Straight Talk

Straight Talk

How many times last week did someone tell you one thing and, then, did something entirely different?

Have you ever made plans with someone, who at the last minute changed their mind and did not participate?

Why is it essential to say what we believe and believe what we say?

Reputation is what others think about us. Character is who we truly are — at the core. Sterling qualities of these attributes are nurtured into existence as a result of consistency in word and deed.

John Wooden in his book, The Wisdom of Wooden, shares with us what his father shared with him.

Two Sets of Three

1.) Never lie.
2.) Never cheat.
3.) Never steal.

1.) Don’t whine.
2.) Don’t complain.
3.) Don’t make excuses.

Words, if inconsistent with actions, are blatantly misleading. Recipients of this deceit are cheated out of belief. The most precious of resources — Time — is stolen.

As a result, the cover-up is camouflaged with a combination of whining, complaining, and excuse making.

Take a few moments to imagine a world in which individuals are careful with their commitments.

By default, commitment is entirely void of one word: Maybe.

In fact, commitment is either: This, or That.

Just say a simple, “Yes, I will.” Or, “No, I won’t.”

Then, after giving our word, one way, or the other, just, “Do it.”

The only downside risk of doing what we say is that the Drama Kings and Queens will need to find another venue for their acting. Theatre can be a pleasant diversion from reality. Honesty in thought and action is a perquisite for building trust and respect.

Straight talk and a straight walk lead straight to dynamic relationships!

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

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

Good Finders

Good Finders“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

While beginning with the ending is acknowledged to be an odd way to tell a story, truth is stranger than fiction. For instance, some people are fond of putting carts in front of horses, trying to collect dividends before making investments, and, generally, letting bad beliefs thwart good ideas.

Human nature thrives on the gossip fueled by jealousy. Many choose to believe the purveyors of hidden secrets, who have specialized in being Fault Finders. Their mutual immaturity is provided a respite by dwelling on the foibles of others. With a warped sense of reality, they believe that tearing down another provides stature to the destroyer.

Let’s resist the craziness, by focusing our thoughts on being Good Finders.

We begin by applying a principle of farming: Either plant quality seeds and produce a crop of value, or weeds will grow.

All we do begins with a thought.

Each of our lives is unique because of different education and experience. Yet, we can, all, “Fix our thoughts.” Yes, two important facets to the word: Fix. First, let’s acknowledge the importance of fixing our broken thought patterns, the Stinkin’ Thinkin’. Next, let’s do the fixin’ by focusing on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Please, this is cause for pause. Stop and Begin; stop reading and begin listing: all of the goodness in your life. Take one word at a time. What is true? What is honorable? What is right? And, so forth. If you have yet to experience an attribute of goodness from another person, how do you offer it? Have you ever considered how one, simple, act of kindness and loyalty can change a life, forever?

Of all the prayers offered in the course of a day, this one is guaranteed to make a difference:

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And, Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right,
If I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And, supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.

Attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr

Because kindness and loyalty are the cornerstones of our peace of mind and the keys to opening the minds of others, we are encouraged to, “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.”

By being Good Finders, we are offered one of the few guarantees in life. “Whoever pursues righteousness and love: finds life, prosperity and honor.”

That, my friends, is the ending worthy of a new beginning!

www.kimfoard.com

Steel and Velvet

Steel and VelvetIt Takes Both

Life is experienced on a tightrope.

Fine lines of distinction separate This from That.

As an example, the short riddle below, comprised of two sentences, is deserving of being solved.

It will be our segue into the Thought Du Jour.

Each sentence is accurate.

Together, they become powerful in thought and deed!

Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.

Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.

While appearing contradictory, the Secret is within each of us, at our core. If we know who we are and are generous of spirit, the “answer” becomes obvious:

We refuse to follow a foolish person down rabbit trails and we boldly share our beliefs with them.

By now, you might ask, “What does this have to do with a man of Steel and Velvet?”

The answer: They can be firm and soft, at the same time.

In fact, they are who they are; yet, they generously share of themselves. The perceived differences are inherent within the individuals who approach. For example: these men of Steel and Velvet have the patience of a Saint. Some will recognize the character trait as a virtue; others will perceive the same trait as weakness.

The first group will experience the softness that flows from mutual respect; the second group will experience the firmness that results from the rude awakening to reality. While giving the benefit of doubt, these men of Steel and Velvet will defend their boundaries, for the benefit of those who seek protection there.

Boundaries are simply “fine lines of distinction”. One of these fine lines separates forgiveness from flaccidity. Forgiveness is hard (to do); flaccidity is (by its very definition) soft. Forgiveness lets us enjoy the present moment, while moving forward into a future of opportunities. Flaccidity is for those who allow themselves to be a doormat, for the feet of their enemies, while remaining tethered to the past.

Lambs

Is it possible for lambs to move through a pack of wolves? What is the Secret to that?! Answer: We are to be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Wisdom is the forerunner to success. In fact, a four letter word is the pun intended to create a new beginning in our lives: Fore.

Yes, that which comes before. Have you ever wondered how generous people got to be that way? They give here, there, and everywhere. What came first? What is at the very beginning of their current efforts? Answer: Fore-give; in the vernacular, Forgive.

One of the best definitions of forgiveness was received in a place far removed from a religious setting. Yet, it dovetails with a belief in a Higher Power and summarizes the distinct black and white choice we will each make in our, individual, lives.

Forgiveness: Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

Simple enough. Yet, check your thoughts. Where are they? Dwelling on an episode, conversation, mistake, hurt, offense, etc. of the Past? If so, look again at the definition above. “But”, you might say, “I have tried to forgive and that person does not deserve it, will not accept it, continues to do it, etc.” (the excuses continue on ad infinitum, and ad nauseam)

DovesFore-giving is not about anyone else. It is about us and totally within our control.

Does it mean we condone the actions of another? No. Does it mean we continue to allow another to hurt us? Heck, no! Does it mean we forget, for now, with hopes of revenge, later? Again, the answer is: No.

We “simply”: Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

Then, we assure ourselves with, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive!”

Many will choose to be offended. They will be envious of the peace and tranquility in our lives. The pathologically challenged will remain tethered to their past, while we move forward. Each new day will bring the tightropes for us to walk boldly and in balance. Through it all, we retain our innocence by being able and willing to, quickly, ask for forgiveness when we are wrong and offering it freely to erase the foibles of others.

By doing so: We ignore the foolish arguments, while sharing our core beliefs. We wisely chart our course through danger, while being careful to remain harmless. We forgive ourselves and others, while receiving a ticket to the future. We learn the inherent principle of Steel and Velvet: easy is hard; hard is easy.

www.kimfoard.com

Tailhook Episode

Hooks and FlowersEach spring, a pair of love birds prepare for the adventure of a lifetime: Children.

They give new meaning to the expression, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

More than just the two of them, the whole family joins in to celebrate the beginning of new life.

Actually, the bird type is Tree Swallow and a couple of them nest in a birdhouse on a pillar outside my kitchen window. Excitement reigns supreme as Mom and Dad take turns tossing out last year’s old furnishings and, then, gathering in the new grasses and feathers for their love nest.

All is relatively quiet for a couple of weeks as Mom keeps all warm at home and Dad stays busy with a modest fetch-and-carry routine. They seem to enjoy this time of peace and tranquility, abundant conversations, and visits from the rest of the family, who sometimes acknowledge the happiness with quick fly-bys.

All Is WellThen, everything changes! Quiet morphs into Rock-and-Roll. As quickly as Dad can leave the portal of open mouths, Mom is right there on deck with the next tender morsel. Bits and pieces of each meal are scattered around the house and, at the end of the day, Mom and Dad look frazzled.

As several weeks pass, those open mouths waiting patiently for food become voices screaming for attention: More, more, more! Hurry up, already! Yuk, another worm?! Mom and Dad, with the wisdom of experience, just wink at each other. Just a little bit more time and a big world will welcome all that chatter.

Leap of FaithOne morning, as I poured the first cup of coffee, there he was, Junior, standing on the hook of a hanging flower basket preparing for flight. Up and down the hook he wiggled, to find the perfect spot. Then, he stretched his wings several times, as he looked tip to tip. Tail feathers wiggled, he glanced down at the ground. Then, he seemed to focus on a spot in the distance just before he jumped … into nothingness.

He was airborne! Little bit wobbly; yet, he was definitely flying. The maiden voyage was a fairly small circle as he banked to the left to climb a little and then glide back down into cruising altitude. As he approached home, I found myself thinking, “Pull up, you’re coming in a little too fast!” Since, as a dad, I’m accustomed to talking to myself, I knew to keep quiet and just watch.

Sure enough, it was just like the Saturday morning cartoons. As Junior grabbed the hook with his little landing gear, the momentum almost swiveled him all the way around the hook. He struggled to keep his composure and, finally, regained his balance. Quickly, he looked around as if to say, “Boy, I sure hope nobody saw that!”

Then, an aura of accomplishment seemed to envelope his persona. He boldly stepped to the center of that hook, fluffed his wings, puffed out his chest, raised his sights a little higher, and leaped into his next flight.

Are we as brave? Do we learn from our children as much as (or, maybe even more than) we teach them? As we grow older, do we retain a youthful fascination for life?

The Cape

Kathy Mattea

(Guy Clark/Susanna Clark/Jim Janosky)

Eight years old with a floursack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
He’s figurin’ what the heck
Well, he screwed his courage up so tight
That the whole thing come unwound
He got a runnin’ start and bless his heart
He’s headed for the ground

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s all grown up with a floursack cape
Tied all around his dreams
And he’s full of spit and vinegar
And he’s bustin’ at the seams
Well, he licked his finger and he checked the wind
It’s gonna be do or die
He wasn’t scared of nothin’ boys
He was pretty sure he could fly

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s old and gray with a floursack cape
Tied all around his head
He’s still jumpin’ off the garage
And will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said
He was actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Yes, he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

While acknowledging that “discretion is the better part of valor”, when given the opportunity to take a leap of faith: Look both ways and then jump head-first into the Play-ground of life!

www.kimfoard.com