New Year’s Restorations

462px-happy_2016_fizzWhat happens when you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you remember what they were by the end of January? Do you even remember them by the end of the day January 1st? Right; me either.

So to increase our chances of success in the New Year let’s change the rules. Instead of making Resolutions we will more than likely forget, let’s establish a set of New Year’s Restorationsthings and relationships in our lives that need to be rebuilt if we are to move through live more smoothly.

  1. What family members need your silent forgiveness, followed with appropriate expressions of love?
  2. The same goes for business relationships; that is, if you want your business to thrive next year.
  3. What parts of your own soul are in need of some repair and restoration?
  4. Same Four Questions I always raise—
  5. What one thing needs to change?
  6. What new thing [or things] needs to be added?
  7. What present thing(s) needs to go, to be eliminated from your life?
  8. What needs to be kept, but seriously modified to fit the next you?
  9. How did you make a difference last year? Keep doing that. You created something
  10. What were your greatest blunders? Just don’t repeat them again or you will need even more restoration.
  11. What kind of people do you need more of in your life?
  12. What kind of people have been a bad influence on you and need to go?
  13. Do you have a spiritual dimension to your life? If not, why not? God is no human projection.
  14. Ask, “The One Think I must accomplish in 2016, no matter what, is…?”

It is always good to check-in with yourself on a regular basis. I do it monthly, quarterly, & yearly. When was the last time you put your life through a tune-up?

Restoration is good for every aspect of your life. Get to it.

May this New Year restore your soul…, and so much more,

Gary

 

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Dear Howard Schultz, & Starbucks Baristas

starbucks, coffee, christmas, christian, gary, davisDear Howard Schultz (CEO), & Starbucks Baristas everywhere,

By now most of you have heard of the RANTFever that is sweeping our land over your attempt to de-Christianize Christmas on your bright RED holiday cups. I truly am sorry for all this hubbub. It’s just wrong.  “Christians are being persecuted,” some Christians cry! One man, Paul Matthew Turner, on returning from India to the US, remarked somewhat incredulously over all the fuss over the Starbucks stuff. I’ll just quote one of his less vitriol reactions here— “what a shallow, disgusting, and completely moronic portrayal of “faith” this is!” You can read more here—https://www.facebook.com/MPTAuthor?fref=ts

Josh Feuerstein, a Christian protagonist (read Jackass), offers us a more inappropriate response in his simple RANT on his Facebook page—https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/videos/689569711145714/ Really, watch it to see what NOT to do! And read the first link as well.

What amazes me is that anyone is so surprised in 21st Century America that Starbucks is not overtly “Christian” on its holiday coffee cups! Why should they be? Since when have we been a Christian nation, or Starbucks a Christian business?!? One ABC news commentator (whom I have a secret crush on so will not reveal her name) actually said, “If you want the Starbucks cup to be more Christmasy draw a snowman on it.”

During this Holiday Season, do I expect my Volvo mechanic to stamp my bill with a manger-scene— in red & green? Do I expect my doctor to wish me Merry Christmas; he’s Jewish. (He did anyway. Go figure.) Nor do I expect St. Nick to slide down my chimney. He’d get his ass fried.

I do expect people, at this time of year, to be more joyful, loving, suicidal (I do counseling.), sacrificial, and considerate. I even expect (some) drivers to let me to cut into their lane when I use my turn-signal. It’s just “the Season.”

For Christians everywhere, genuine Christians, not the whatever-the-hell-they-are Christians, take this Season of the year to honor your neighbors. DO NOT give them a fruit-cake. Don’t be one either. Invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, a New Year’s party! Learn to make Wassail together. DRINK Wassail together (hic). Share your family’s celebrations together.

So, dearest Howard Schultz & Starbucks Baristas, THANK YOU for your Red Cups this Season! They’re bright & cheery! I need that. Honestly, I need your coffee just as much. Especially the Gram Latte’s! They’re great! Thank you very much for them.

And, not to be offensive in any way, Merry Christmas to all of you at Starbucks! You’re doing a great job of encouraging a lot of people at this time of year. Particularly me.

…and a Happy New Year, too,

  Gary

Damn Hot

HeatDamn Hot

Last week was the hottest scorcher of the summer in New England. People in the South say you get used to this. I grew up in the south and never got used to it. The heat made me sick— migraines, dehydration, exhaustion. Now I live in New England where people never need air conditioning! Wanna bet? Last Wednesday it was 99º. The heat index for the day felt like 105º. Add to that the 78% humidity…, oh never mind. Maybe it’s just me.

How does the heat affect you?

No, not the daily temperature: HEAT; PRESSURE; being pushed to your limits and then some. STRESS! The majority of us cannot stand too much heat. We simply give into the pressure and blow up. Thankfully, there are still some stalwarts who will give our lives for what we believe in and not give in.

Various sciences of our day have offered healthier stress-coping mechanisms for dealing with the HEAT. Here are some—

§  Take care of yourself.

§  Eat healthy, well-balanced meals

§  Exercise on a regular basis

§  Get plenty of sleep

§  Talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.

§  Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help with the stress. In the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.

§  Take a break. If your stress is caused by a national or local event, take breaks from listening to the news stories, which can increase your stress.

Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

Here’s my list—

§  Go into the woods & hit a tree: or, into an alley and pound a wall.

§  While you’re in the woods, let off some steam.

§  Contrary to the professional opinion above, find a “mate,” you can have a nice, cold Fosters with. This is a great way to dissipate the Heat.

§  Take time to process everything.

§  Write things down to clarify what really happened, or, what was said. Put it away for a week; then take it out & read it again. Still accurate?

§  Don’t blame God. [You know it’s not His fault.]

§  If you are the cause of the heat & stress, apologize.

§  If you are the recipient of the pressure, the stress, the HEAT, find people to help share the load. Then do the same for them when they need help.

There are probably many more ways to handle the HEAT. But I’m tired of thinking about this on a 90º day.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Winning

Gary, Davis, Gandhi, Winning,

First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

1869 – 1948

I’ve never won much in life. Well, that is, if you consider, kewpie-dolls at the county fair, the first prize in a match-box car race, or a Monopoly game, or certain sports events worth winning; I just don’t seem to be cut out for winning: not, at least, at this level. I’d rather put my time and energy into winning the battle for the souls of men & women, for justice, for clearer communication between peoples who don’t even want to talk with each other, let alone consider loving each other. I’d like to bring peace where there is very little of it: that’s worth winning.

Winning is different for everybody. For some of us, every human exchange is a competitive event:  someone has to win, someone has to lose. These people play their game with every ounce of their strength and will power (in sports, business, simple conversations, or relationships) to win. For three years during college I was on our Debate Team; I never lost even one debate. As I grew in life, after college, a couple graduate programs, & a doctorate, I had to learn how NOT to win. Why? Because I lost too many relationships always trying to win, to be right, to wind up Number ONE. It wasn’t worth it to me.

When our children were in their formative years I used to tell them— If you put yourself on Top, there’s only one direction you can go. If you put yourself on the Bottom, there’s only one direction you can go. ‘Nough said.

So, my question to you is this— What’s worth winning? Is it scoring that winning point in a game? Being summa cum laude at graduation? Becoming Senior Vice-President by age thirty? Or simply driving the coolest car? To be sure there are some things in life worth winning; and, there are some things in life not really worth fighting for. We all need to pick our battles carefully. C a r e f u l l y.

For me, I just want to make a difference in this world before I check out. How about you?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

infomercial

gary, davis, infomercial, crapInfomercials— the bane of a society with too much discretionary cash. They seem to be designed for people who have little to commit to in life. Thus do they stay up late watching these things for hours on end. OR, they turn on the Home Shopping Network when they get up, hoping to spend their $$$ on something they do not need, probably don’t want, just because it is there and ordering it gives them something to do in life.

Miracle Dicer or Rolls Royce, it’s all the same—$29.95 plus Shipping & Handling. It used to be $19.95 but costs have gone up.

In the name of all that is Right & Good in this world, WHY?!? WHY!?! Why would anybody pay any attention to these mass-sales appeals to take our last vestiges of income and personal dignity?!? Have we no shame? Evidently not.

If you DO have an extra $100 – $500 laying around why not give it to something you believe in? Your church, synagogue, cancer research, a political party (wait, did I just slip that last one in there?). Or buy surprise gifts for those you love; even better, buy a nice gift for someone who loathes you. That’ll shock the hell outta them!

But really…? Another gadget to clutter up your already crammed closets, jewelry chests or kitchen drawers?

Something is really WRONG here people!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Why are Christians sooooo boring?

It’s no wonder none of us go to church. It’s just plain boring, and irrelevant, and a time warp into a different century. What the hell are they talking about anyway? It’s not as bad if you attend one of the more contemporary church services: at least they are more upbeat and encouraging.

But I’m talking about the real Christians, the ones you chance upon every now & then amidst the countless jerks4Jesus who claim to be genuine Followers of Christ who don’t have a clue about what’s going on in our world today. Some of them don’t even watch the news, unless it’s FOX News. Why do these people choose to be out of touch with the rest of the world? It’s a mystery.

What I’ve found is that we need Christians; well, not all of them, but some of them really get it, and want to build bridges, come to our parties, drink our beer, and hang out with us. They are the kind we need. They keep us on our toes instead of stepping on them. Some of them are even kind-of fun. A little. But, for the most part, they need our help. They need to get out more. Live life more! And definitely drink more single-malt.

OR, it could be that WE are the problem. We put them off somehow; we scare them; or maybe their radar picks up our secret that we just don’t want them around; which, given their judgmental history is quite understandable. Come to think about it, they probably see us as judgmental of them. Hmmm.

Like John Legend’s ALL OF ME, maybe it’s time we’re both showing hearts. Cards on the table.

Christians may be mostly boring…, but some of us are a little weird too…, and boring, too.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Petrified Fungus

Dr, Gary, Davis, Fungus, Petrified, Relationships, People

 by Nicolas Rück 

Def.— Fungus:  any one of a group of related plants (such as molds, mushrooms, or yeasts) that have no flowers and that live on dead or decaying things.

 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fungus

            The above definition of fungus is also analogous to any number of governmental agencies, business corporations, churches, marriages, & interpersonal relationships. Think pork-barrel spending, executive bonuses, Medieval Christian expressions still prevalent, friendships that have long since lost their significance, or loveless adversarial marriages.

We have too many relationships in our lives that have lost their core, their reason to exist. They become like fungus, once attached to a living, thriving entity, now dead. Even worse, those connections have become solidified — devoid of even symbiotic attachment. We become simply a carcass of petrified fungus.

It is an observable fact that many organizations and individuals grow stagnant in the way they function. The zest that once typified them has slipped into the doldrums of despondency. Relationships take effort. If there seems to be no umph! in your marriage or church or company maybe it is because you have lost your vision, or your sense of expecting God to work. Maybe your relationship, be it spousal or friendship, has plummeted the depths of boredom because you just haven’t put anything into it lately…, or, for a long time. Your life & friendships are dying from a lack of oxygen.

Being the first one to make the effort to bring fresh air back into a mission, or marriage, is always a daunting effort. If God has designed you to be the one who must initiate the first steps toward reconciliation, or restoration, or forgiveness, then get used to it. It’s what you were made for. Think of it as your curse, or your privilege; doesn’t matter. JUST GET ON AND DO IT.

Sure, you get tired of being the one who must initiate every innovation or repair of a relationship. You wish to God that someone else would beat you to it. Again, it doesn’t matter. SIMPLY DO IT. Do not let unresolved issues run-on unresolved. The deepest pain I live with are people who do not want resolution in relationships. But there have been points where all my efforts became futile. It is only after years of trying that I give up, realizing that true resolution must be a two way street.

If you do not come to a resolution you will find yourself in a petrified relationship— within your place of work, your friendships, or your marriage. And it will eventually kill you. YOU will become a petrified fungus, no longer capable of doing little more than lying there, dormant, ineffective, and, in essence, a dead weight to anyone around you.

Is this what you want to settle for in life? I sure as hell don’t.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Recovering from Betrayal

Gary, Davis, betrayal, recovering, recover, revenge       One of the deepest hurts that happens to any of us is that first time someone betrays us.  Not so much the actual betrayal, rather it is when we discover that we have been lied to, betrayed, deceived. It is a deep, soul-slashing hurt. It is not the kind of pain we want to experience ever again.

Then, of course, the stings of deception and lying continue throughout the entirety of our lives. It seems to be an aspect of human nature that we lie to protect ourselves, to look better, to hide the truth, and even, sometimes, to intentionally wound another person. This is the most painful bite of all— the friendly fire rained down upon us.

Recovering from such wounds is no simple matter. Some of us never recover; its pain either seethes within, becoming a poisonous infection or it lingers, waiting for the day of retribution. Still, our revenge is only temporarily satisfying. What we truly need is a full recovery from the corruption that eats away at us. Some recovery suggestions—

1.      Though forgiveness may not be the first thing on our minds, in our rage and anger, eventually we must come to a place where we forgive the other person, or group. If we do not forgive, our broiling antagonism will slowly destroy us.

2.      Processing the wound with a close friend is also advised; not a friend who will support you in your anger, rather one who will guide you to a clearer perspective. You don’t want to fan the flames; rather, you want to find a friend who will help you tame the flames to warm and calm you. Retribution burns everything in its midst: never rekindle its embers. Let it die.

3.      Time is on your side. You will grow past this. You will emerge from the dark tunnel of seething anger. But you will, you must, grow your way out.

4.      In worst-case scenarios, seeking the counsel of a psychiatrist might be needed. To this day, I know people who cannot let go of their desire to seek revenge on those who have wronged them.

5.      Not surprisingly, vigorous exercise (sports, running, chasing after small children) releases toxins while it brings body-mind balance back in line. Something to think about.

There are many more solutions to help you recover from betrayal and the inner scars it leaves behind. May these simple suggestions start you down the right road to recovery.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Getting Lost

Lost, Thoreau, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, risk, reflectionMost of us, at some time or another, will get lost. It may be as simple as getting lost on back roads or forgetting where your glasses are; or, more seriously, getting lost in life; that is, losing your sense of direction, purpose, and/or identity. In short, you no longer know where you are, who you are, or where you are heading.

A dead stop.

In the midst of that empty confusion certain questions start to arise—

How did I get here? What could I have done differently? How do I start to dig out of this mess? More importantly— How do I find myself again? Who am I now? What do I do next?

Anxiety starts to immobilize your spirit; you cannot take any action for fear of further failure. But you have to do something. Anything! Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve gotten lost.

1. I start taking small steps. What are the little things you can definitely accomplish that will bring some semblance of stability or order to your life? Do that. Then do another one.

2. Keep in mind that when you are lost everything is a risk. Things you used to do as a simple matter have now morphed into insurmountable monsters. Nonetheless, you must face those monsters to overcome them. I had to. And I corralled a cadre of friends to stand by me as I faced them.

3. Don’t ask God to do for you what you must do yourself. He is definitely in charge. But we are not mindless robots. He expects us to act responsibly with the time He has given us.

4. God can’t direct a parked car. Start moving. If it’s in the wrong direction, He’ll redirect you.

5. Establish NEW points of reference for your journey. The former points of reference are gone; you’ve already passed them. If you want to find your way again, you’ll need to discover a whole new set of reference points to guide you. I find I need to cut back on my activities to give my mind, and heart, time to process the mental & emotional shift. What will most likely be the next sign along your path that you are getting back on track?

With all the variables we have to juggle these days it’s easy to get lost along the way. You have to work hard to get back on track. So get to it. Drive! You will not stay lost for long. [Proverbs 16:3.]

Honor God, honor people…, make a path,

Gary

Thanks-giving

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Turkey, Thanks, Thanksgiving, Thankful Once a year in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving; a time to remember to be thankful for all that we have. Friends and family gather together to give thanks over a bountiful meal, with turkey & mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, green beans with slivered almonds, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, fresh rolls from the oven…, and pie! Apple pie (a la mode), pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, even rhubarb pie. Kinda gets your mouth watering.

And football. LOTS of football! This year, depending on the number of channels you pay for, there are 3 NFL games from which to choose; but that’s just the NFL. Did I mention there’s more food! Hot crab dip, onion dip, spicy habanero salsa, and even Tzatziki. Blown your diet yet?

Then think of the next 3 weeks + of turkey & cranberry sauce sandwiches. Maybe not.

Oddly, one of the things missing in all this celebration and comradery is— remembering to give thanks.  In most American families not even a prayer of thanks is offered before the meal anymore. Who are we supposed to thank? What’s the history of Thanksgiving? Google it.

Here are some suggestions on how to instill an aspect of thanks-giving into your Thanksgiving.

1.      Whether you are the chef, invited guest, or family, gather your wits about you to celebrate with an attitude of how can I serve rather than serve me.

2.      If you are a guest, bring something. Anything. It’s historical.

3.      DO NOT make football the god-of-the-day.

4.      If you believe in God, DO start with a prayer of thanks-giving.

5.      If you do not believe in God, at the beginning of the meal, thank the chef! Profusely.

6.      Toward the end of the meal, go ‘round the table asking each one there to offer at least one thing for which they are thankful. Kids included.

7.      Offer to help with the dishes! If others don’t offer, conscript them. Note- the chef is not allowed to participate in kitchen clean-up.

8.      If you are a guest, do not linger about forever. Unless invited to stay, leave after you do the dishes.

9.      If you are the host, be gracious, but sit down. Stop!

10.  NOW you can sit and watch more football. [After you go for a hike to shed the excess bulk.]

From our family to yours, we wish you the best season of thanks-giving ever. Gobble gobble.

 

Happy Thanksgiving,

  Gary