THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

In the world today we are faced with more division and anger then we have seen in a very long time. This can leave us with feelings of frustration, animosity, and worst of all fear. Daily I hear people complain about the government, different cultures, religions other than their own. It can also leave us with a wide array of questions. “Why do these people hate these people?” “Who is to blame?” Even if we are doing our best to fix problems the questions that come up can leave us without many answers. “Why is this happening?” and even the constructive “How can we fix the problems we face?”

How do we address all of the issues and questions above? While working my brain for an answer I thought of my favorite quote of all time –

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi

One answer I have found to all of these complex and difficult questions is rather simple. The best way to alleviate fear, to quell anger and to ease frustration is to become an example of the changes you wish to see in the world.

Being kind and understanding to people who are different from you may not change the world, but it will change your world and serve as an example to anyone who may be watching you. This advice goes double if you are a parent. Do not like the current political climate? Cast your vote and be a catalyst for change and not one who just curses the establishment. Not happy with the way the environment is being treated? Make sure to recycle and live a sustainable lifestyle.

As with many quotes that I enjoy the lessons I learn from them continue as the years go by. If everyone lived as the change we wished to see in the world, the world would change. Would you like people to be more friendly? Be more friendly yourself. As a bonus, if you are working hard on becoming the best version of you there is seldom any time left to complain about others, whom it should be noted, you can never change anyway.

SMILE, IT IS TAX DAY!

Today in the United States it is Federal Income Tax day. Generally, a somber day for most. After paying what seems like the bulk of your earnings out of your paycheck, you have the dubious honor of paying some more today. Even if after paying your required amount every check, you get a small portion back, you still face the prospect of filling out time-consuming paperwork that can often be very confusing. At the least, you are going to pay someone to do this for you or face penalties for not doing so. This time of year we are also supplied with many facts of the not so logical way our government chooses to spend our hard earned dollars. Not very inspiring or motivational.

Before I continue, allow me to let you know I do not work for the IRS, nor am I a fan of tax season. That being said, today I stopped and pondered all that our tax dollars give us. Yes, there is lots of waste and mismanagement when it comes to government spending, but let us focus on what does get done. As I write this mid April has brought my city freezing rain and snow. The roads are currently being plowed and salted. I cannot imagine what it would be like if that were left up to the public to do. We can look at the sidewalks for an example. Some people shovel and clean them off, some do not. Imagine if the roads were the same. How would we get around? How long would we have to wait? How about sanitation? Imagine having to deal with your garbage daily. Would you take it to the dump on your own? Would there even be a dump? How about the public library? Free education for anyone regardless of race, religion or social status.

For a lot of us, tax day will always be a painful experience. By focusing on what we do receive from the money that is unceremoniously taken from us each paycheck, we may ease the pain we feel. If we look hard enough, for every story of the government buying a $200 hammer, we will find one of a young woman who studied at the public library and went on to become a doctor who saved many lives.

Could and should the government do a lot better? Absolutely and we can and should keep voting to make sure they do. In the meantime, let us be grateful that we do not have to bury our trash in our own back yard or clear the snow of the street in front of our house. While we are at it let us rent a movie from our public library and enjoy some of the tax day deals that some companies are offering.

MEMORIAL DAY

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Memorial day is a day we honor fallen soldiers here in the United States. Sadly, war is usually the result of ego driven politicians inability to resolve conflict without resorting to violence and loss of life, which is seldom if ever their own. Still, in the midst of this world of darkness there are many things that evolve.

I have the honor of knowing a great many warriors as they are referred to in my culture. Still my favorite was my Grandfather. Listening to stories he shared during his time in the south pacific in World War two allowed me to appreciate what can come out of war. Without fail every former soldier I have spoken to has a greater appreciation of life and the value each life holds. It is with this knowledge they are able to love deeper, understand greater, and have more compassion then most people I know.

In this country, as well as others I have visited, there seems to be a glaring neglect for these men and women who risk their lives for the sake of their country. Let us understand for the most part these brave souls go willingly to follow the orders of leaders they may not even agree with, the cost of which may be their lives, just so the rest of us do not have to. When they return they have almost always been a part of something, and seen things most of us will not and could not ever understand. They are left with a view of the world we will never know. They are left with challenges of physical, mental and emotional aspect.

Sadly, the governments who seem to be so willing to put these men and women in harms way tend to drop the ball when it comes for caring for them when they return. Now this blog is not political, and I do not wish to engage in a discussion about the current state of the Veterans Administration. That being said, my point is this, on a day we remember all of those who served let us work together as a people to give what our governments have not – let us all do something to honor and serve those who have honored and served their country and all of us. What can we do? If you know a veteran, thank them for their service. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of the active and retired service men and women from the bottom of my heart. Even if you don’t, stop by your local VA there are many needs you can fill. Volunteer to read to veterans, or offer your skills in whatever you do. See if there is anything you could donate. Write a letter to a soldier who may not have anyone to share with them. Donate to a care package drive.

Most importantly, Memorial day is about those soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. What could we do for them? There are few things. First learn the stories of fallen heros. What they went through, where they came from and who and what they left behind. That brings us to the other thing we can do. Understand each fallen soldier leaves behind family and friends who need our support and compassion. There is obviously emotional hurt and loss, but that is often accompanied by economic and social challenges as well. So let us not forget the sacrifice made by the family and friends of those who have lost someone in battle.

Let us understand even if we do not support conflict or the governments who engage in it, let us support the people who sacrifice their time, physical and emotional well-being and all to often their lives so we do not have to. Once more a heart-felt thank you from myself and everyone here at Secret2anamazinglife.com to all of the veterans past and present for all you have given so the rest of us do not have to. Please help honor them all by sharing this.

WHO THE HECK ARE YOU??

This may sound like a rather silly question. I hear lots of you saying “I’m Bob, I’m Mary”.  No, that is your name.  I am talking about your identity.  Who we are is how we define ourselves.  So I ask you again, who are you? Notice what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  For a lot of us, it is our occupation.  We may not realize it, but we often identify ourselves by where we work or what kind of work we do.  Especially if we have done that job for a while.  I learned this the hard way.  After giving the postal service 15 great years, I was faced with the real prospect of losing my position for nothing more than office politics.  Suddenly I felt like, “Now what? What will happen to me?”  Those feelings of fear were because after so many years I identified myself as ‘Neil the postal worker’.  Lucky for me I had a few friends I could talk to who knew me before I worked for the postal service.  I had to ask Jason, Jenny, and Russ, my good friends, what was I like 16 years ago before the I started working there.  After a few jokes about stress levels I came to realize there was a Neil before the United States Postal Service and there will be one after as well.  Here we are a few years later and I find myself in the same situation.  What is different now is I realize I am not my occupation.  So who am I? More importantly, who are you?  We are who we choose to define ourselves to be.  I heard something recently that may help to show the example I am trying to get at.  “There is a great difference between doing something stupid, feeling stupid, and being stupid”  We have all done something stupid in our lives.  Some more than others. We have all felt stupid at times.  When we say we are stupid, that creates a whole different mentality.  If you say you are stupid, or overweight, or lazy, whatever term you use it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I’m really good at this for saying “I am a procrastinator”.  Now if I hold that as a belief or even more so as a conviction, my actions will have to be in line with that identity.  So really think how you define yourself.  Take a moment to write a few beliefs about yourself that you hold.  See which ones serve you and which do not.  If you are like me and have one or two that may be holding you back it is time to switch them up.  Write down the person you wish to become.  Carry it with you and read it throughout the day.  At first it may seem like you are lying to yourself especially if it is the opposite of what you currently believe to be true of yourself.  Stick with it. You didn’t develop the beliefs you have about yourself overnight and you are not going to change them overnight either.  So let us all redefine ourselves and become the people we desire to be!