Category Archives: Reflections

Happiness = Good Friends + Good Experiences

whiskey and cigars
There’s nothing like cool summer nights in Beaverton for creating wonderful experiences in our own backyard. And we created some wonderful experiences this weekend!

My dear friend opted to use our outdoor space for her piano studio recital. The event was the first of its kind in 2 years, courtesy of COVID. Her students were well-rehearsed, excited, and real pros as they introduced their selections and performed them. Oh, how I love encouraging budding musicians! A group of friends stayed after to enjoy spirits, delicious food, and fellowship. I absolutely loved it!

We spent all day Saturday getting ready for an even bigger party on Sunday during which friends gathered for a visit by an out-of-town chum. To mark the occasion, we had a live band, more spirits, more food, and more wonderful fellowship. Yet again, we stayed out late talking while a gentle breeze kept us cool and relaxed on the patio. Sheer heaven!

According to Dr. Catherine A. Sanderson, PhD of Amherst College, my experience of weekend bliss accords with what researchers have learned about happiness. The quality of our relationships is the single greatest predictor of happiness. It takes a bit of effort to find the folks with whom we feel a sense of kinship. (It took me ~5 years after our move here.) One found, it takes time, energy, and effort to nurture those cherished relationships.

Some may think: But what a minute? What if I got that big promotion? Or won the lottery? Wouldn’t such events be bigger determinants of happiness than friends?

It turns out that we aren’t terribly impacted by big life events – even winning millions of dollars! After the initial thrill, we tend to adapt and return to our previous set point. We can, however, increase our set point through right action. In particular:

Take care of ourselves by eating properly, exercising, and getting the right quantity and quality of sleep.

Spend our money wisely by investing in experiences rather than things. As with those big life events, the thrill of a new thing wears off once we become acclimated to it. But a great experience shared with good friends bring anticipation during the planning phase, joy in the moment, and wonderful memories that can be revisited time and again.

Avoid comparisons with others. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” To that end, Dr. Sanderson tells us to be wary of social media. It can make us feel as though everyone else is living a more vibrant life than we are. We forgot that most people only post their “best of” moments, not the full range of their everyday experiences.

Give to others; volunteer. When we are generous with our time, talents, and resources, we feel better about ourselves and the difference our lives’ make in the world.

Express gratitude. As the bookend to avoiding comparisons, practicing thankfulness helps us focus on everything that is going right in our lives and will have a ripple effect on the way we feel about ourselves.

Think good thoughts. A positive attitude carries the day for sustaining happiness through the ups and down of our lives.

How I Jump-Started My Exercise Habit

Although I’ve been fairly consistent with exercise most of my life, I fell off the bandwagon during the COVID quarantine. My gym closed which disrupted my weekly routine. My yoga studio switched to virtual classes which just didn’t float my boat. An old knee injury flared up and put the brakes on vigorous walks in the hills. And, quite frankly, I just got bummed out and lost my drive to do anything.

I started finding my way back to healthy habits when reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits a few months ago. (Read my blog post.) Based on the author’s three layers of behavioral change, I declared the following:

  1. Goals: I will commit to 30 minutes of daily stretching, 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise, and strength training for upper and lower body on alternating days
  2. Process: I will attend to my stretching routine as soon as I get out of bed. I will use home-based equipment to address my aerobic and strength training needs.
  3. Identity: I am a health conscious person for whom proper diet and exercise are cornerstones of my life.

portable stair-stepperOut of an abundance of caution, I decided to work my way up to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise. I didn’t want my knee to get cranky again, and I wanted to remove barriers to getting back into a daily routine. I purchased a portable stair-stepper and tasked myself with a 10 minute workout the first week. I added 2 minutes to the daily workout with each passing week. As of next week, I’ll be up to the full 30 minutes!

For strength training, I’ve combined floor exercises with exercise bands. My current regimen clearly does not rise to the level of weight training at the gym, but it’s getting me back in the habit of working my muscles daily. Once I’m immunocompetent (thank you COVID vaccine!), I may reactivate my gym membership.

I’ve also adopted the Atomic Habits’ advice for establishing good habits:

  • Make it obvious: My home gym equipment sits on the coffee table in our living room. Because I walk through that room multiple times a day, I get repeated visual reminders that I need to log my time. Admittedly, it disrupts the aesthetic appeal of the room, but it’s not like we’re doing much entertaining these days!
  • Make it attractive: I listen to podcasts while doing my morning stretch. I watch TV while taking care of my aerobic and strength training exercises. I find that when I’m entertained, the time flies.
  • Make it easy: I have everything I need to fulfill my daily exercise requirements right under my own roof. I don’t have to drive anywhere to take care of it. I don’t have to coordinate my time with anyone else. I just gotta do it.
  • Make it satisfying: I keep a daily log on my desktop to record progress. I am happy to report that I have stuck to my plan without exception for 65 days and counting. It’s gratifying to see all those checked boxes, and I’m motivated to maintain an unbroken chain.

I’ll continue to modify my exercise program to ratchet up my overall fitness. However, I’ll make sure that I can and will sustain whatever I add to the menu. As the tortoise showed the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

Farewell to 2020

farewell to 2020
It has been a year like no other.

It started out well. My soul was filled with great music and strong friendships in two choral groups. I had the opportunity to perform with a collective of good actors/singers in a Broadway musical. My work and home lives were harmonious. The only dark spot on the horizon was Mom’s failing health.

Fortune favored the prepared. Mom had been a superb manager of household finances and salted away sufficient funds to spend her final days in one of the best care facilities in Washington County. As Alzheimer’s disease took the last of her cognitive capacity, she had all the supports necessary to keep her safe and comfortable. I spent time with her daily toward the end, and BrightOn Hospice made both of our lives easier. She passed in her sleep on February 6, 2020 at age 96. Mercifully, she transitioned before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

A short five weeks later, Spike and I went into quarantine as news of the dreadful virus took root in our community. Having taken the Community Emergency Response Team training, our household was in good shape to weather the coming storm. Nonetheless, we took the opportunity to shore up our estate plans – a long-standing item on our “to do” list – and communicate with our next-of-kin to make sure that he could assume the mantle of responsibility smoothly. (Remember: Fortune favors the prepared!) We also built up our household food supplies to allow for longer time intervals between grocery store visits. (Read Meal Planning During the Pandemic.)

September brought devastating fires to the State of Oregon. Over 1,000,000 acres burned, hundreds of structures were lost, 40,000 residents were evacuated, and at least 7 people lost their lives. Our neighborhood was never under threat, but the air quality proved so harmful that we were unable to go outdoors or open windows. The fires leveled hardship-upon-hardship for so many.

In the midst of all this chaos, we’ve had the most acrimonious national election cycle in my memory… and the tension-laden political atmosphere is far from behind us. It has added an extra measure of stress and hostility to a year that that has cried out for relief to its suffering.

Meanwhile, I remain attentive to what scientists have to say about COVID-19, the potential remedies for those afflicted, and the vaccines that are making the way into the market. We’re blessed to live in a state with sufficient controls to keep our infection and death rates relatively low. Unfortunately, the boon to public health also carries the loss of livelihood for so many Oregonians. Businesses have closed; others teeter on the brink of ruin. My heart is heavy for all those who suffer.

Like it or not, we’ve got many more months of quarantine before life can return to some semblance of normal. For those who feel restless and would like to throw caution to the wind, I encourage to read the following excerpt from a holiday letter that a dear friend’s brother shared with his friends and family:

somber holiday message

Re-Setting Democracy for the Common Good

we the people

I’ve lived through many, many election cycles in my lifetime. I’ve experienced each party putting forth its vision for America and watched as these differing views take shape in a Presidential administration. I’ve also witnessed the changing of the guard in Congress and noted the attendant adjustments in legislative agenda. But I’ve never experienced the vitriol that has characterized the current campaign. I try to ignore the headlines, but a sense of unrest has permeated my soul for months. I don’t see things easing up any time soon.

Despite all this sturm und drang, there’s an even sadder reality for American voters: The will of the people has very little to do with the legislative agenda. Who controls it? Big money.

According to Professors Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern University), “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule… impact on public policy.” Evidently, of the 200 most politically active companies in the past 5 years, a $5.8 billion in lobbying outlays translated into $4 trillion in taxpayer subsidies and support. Given that Congressional candidates spend most of their time fundraising to build huge campaign war chests, it’s not surprising that they welcome corporate donors and feel obliged to return the favors that are asked of them.

This nation has a lot of problems, and We The People have a huge stake in ensuring that our lawmakers follow our directives in addressing them. That’s why I’m intrigued by the grassroots efforts underway by Represent.us. They’re actively working to reform our political system state-by-state by passing anticorruption laws that will operate within each state and filter up to the federal level over time. Here are core tenets from their proposed Anti-Corruption Act:

  1. Prohibit politicians from raising funds from lobbyists
  2. Prohibit lobbyists from bundling their campaign contributions to increase their control over candidates
  3. Clamp down on the “quid pro quos” by which members of Congress and their staffs get lucrative private employment after their federal service in exchange for favorable legislative treatment while in office
  4. Prohibit Congress members from fundraising during working hours (an activity for which they apparently spend 30-70% of the time we pay them to work for us!)
  5. End secret money with full transparency
  6. End gerrymandering by establishing an independent commission that follows prescribed rules for districting
  7. Let all voters participate in open primaries; let the top 4 vote getters move forward to the general election
  8. Institute rank-ordered voting that lets voters rank candidates in order of preference
  9. Set reasonable term limits for members of Congress
  10. Simplify voter registration
  11. Increase lobbying disclosure and enforcement
  12. Strengthen investigative and prosecutorial powers

In truth, I have not done extensive due diligence on Represent.us nor have I decided to volunteer my time (or money) to support them. But I’m on board with their views on election reform and the mandate to get Congress to work in our behalf, not for big money interests.

There has been a lot of rhetoric about protecting and defending our democracy on the campaign trail. It seems to me that no matter who wins, it’s time We the People step up and let our voices be heard. That ought to be an issues that could unite us across party lines.

Happy Halloween… Almost

With three days to go before Halloween, I am yet again reminded that things are not normal in 2020. The pandemic continues to exert its influence, with new cases and deaths on the rise. We will not have trick-or-treaters this year. Oh, how I’ll miss those precious young faces and adorable costumes!

I’ll confess that I’ve been so immersed in the American expression of Halloween that I’ve forgotten its ancient roots. It’s said that it dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain which marked the end of the harvest and beginning of Winter. Folks believed this was a time when the barrier between this world and the next was so thin that spirits could enter our world and walk among us. Therefore, one needed to set places at the table or leave food and drink by the door to show them hospitality. A lit jack-o-lantern would ward off evil spirits. The smoke and flames of bonfires were also deemed protective and cleansing.

As Christianity spread throughout the region, Samhain gave way to All Hallow’s Eve, the start of a three-day period during which one honored the saints and martyrs and prayed for the recently departed souls who had yet to enter Heaven. All Hallow’s Eve was also thought to be the last day on which the dead might walk among us to gain recompense for wrongs committed against them during this life. These souls would don masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized while they attended to their business.

From at least the 16th Century onward, ordinary citizens took to mumming or guising by going house-to-house in costume in search of treats in exchange for a song or verse. Some offered to pray for the souls of the departed. Others personified the spirits of yore who needed to be appeased in order to grant health and well-being for the coming winter.

Not surprisingly, traditional Halloween lawn decorations and costumes emphasize the supernatural: headstones, coffins, skeletons, skulls, ghosts, goblins, witches, vampires, monsters, and devils. They conjure up images of the dead, evil spirits, and those equipped with the power to cast spells. They’re deeply rooted in our cultural consciousness whether we attribute power to them or not. (J.K. Rowling used these themes to good effect in the Harry Potter books!)

I loved going trick-or-treating as a kid. Back in those days, we never worried about some crazy person putting harmful contaminants in our candy. We’d go in packs from door-to-door and grab as much candy as we could muster and then gorge ourselves on the spoils. It was a night to which we all looked forward every year.

I’ve been to my share of grown-up Halloween parties and marvel at the creativity of my compatriots. Standouts over the years include a man riding as ostrich (where his skinny legs in tights were the ostrich legs) and a pair of crash dummies.

This year, we might go back to the Christian tradition of remembering the dead. We will special homage to my mother, who passed last February, and to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed in September. We will also pray for the nearly quarter-million persons who have lost their lives to the coronavirus and the loved ones they’ve left behind.

Happy New Year!

As far back as the Babylonia Empire, human beings have been making agreements with themselves or their god(s) at the start of the new year. Some involved returning borrowed property. Some related to charitable or chivalrous behaviors that they intended to sustain. In the modern era, we focus on self-improvement (e.g., eat healthy foods, lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, improve finances, make career advances, be more spiritual).

Studies show that despite our best intentions, we often fail to attain our stated goals. A 2007 study from the University of Bristol revealed an 88% failure rate among its 3,000 participants. A 2014 report from Australia showed a 66% failure rate. Typical reasons for getting off track include setting unrealistic goals, setting too many resolutions, failing to track progress, and forgetting about them entirely. Yet despite our poor track records, over 40% of us continue to make resolutions every year.

This topic struck a chord a year ago when I wrote about the top 10 mistakes people make when launching self-improvement initiatives. I’ve also written a couple of posts regarding the science of change management. (See The Psychology of Change and A Business Model for Change Management.) Here are a few quick pointers rooted in neuroscience:

  • Don’t wait for New Year’s Day to create the new you. Start your program as soon as you can make a bit of time to set realistic goals, define baby steps toward achievement, and hold yourself accountable by tracking progress toward your goal.
  • Recognize that will power is a limited resource. Don’t try to make too many changes all at once or amidst a particularly stressful period in your life.
  • Build in support systems that make it easy for you to stay the course. Enroll your family in your program. Get a friend to take the journey with you. Leverage professional help, where applicable (e.g., physicians, nutritionists, trainers, coaches).

Even knowing all of the foregoing, I still make a bit of a ritual out of the onset of a fresh calendar year. I start by making a detailed list of the major accomplishments and events that transpired during the preceding year. (This task feeds into the authoring of our annual holiday letter!) I get a real sense of satisfaction looking at everything that my husband and I got done while reliving the joyful memories. I think about the ways in which I have grown over the past year. And I compare this year’s list with last year’s version to note material changes or trends.

With the results of those exercises in hand, I visualize where I’d like to be when another year has rolled by. I come up with lists of things I’d like to accomplish, experiences I’d like to have, things I’d like to learn, and areas in which I’d like to grow. These lists become my monthly guideposts as I plan activities throughout the year.

I’ve read compelling research that argues for the efficacy of translating such lists into actionable, measurable goals. But I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t feel compelled to put myself on that kind of program. Rather, I let my general inclinations set the course and give myself the freedom to simply enjoy the ride.

Merry Christmas!

A few years ago, I got up a head of steam and digitized ALL of the old family photos. There were hundreds of 35mm slides and an even greater number of prints. Thanks to the miracle of PhotoShop, I was able to restore the color to a lot of photos and correct some defects that had crept in… but it was major undertaking!

As I sifted through the photos, I was struck by how many pictures we had of the family sitting at the dinner table awaiting the serving of a holiday meal. There were dozens of them with the same faces and very nearly the same seating assignments. But for my brother and I aging through the years, you could hardly tell which picture went with which holiday or year!

christmas dinner

I love looking at the old photos and remembering the rituals that accompanied our preparations for the holiday feast:

  • Mom bought San Francisco sourdough French bread a week before the big day so that it could be dried out and made into breadcrumbs.
  • Dad worked the meat grinder the night before Christmas as my brother and I took turns placing the ground pork, bread crumbs, onion, celery, and parsley into the funnel. That mixture would merge with a pound of butter on the stove top and be stuffed inside the turkey the following morning.
  • Mom made homemade cranberry jelly and a cranberry jello mold. (Yep – we all ate jello molds back in the day… and Mom’s version was pretty good!)
  • We got up early on Christmas Day to stuff the turkey and get it into the oven. Dad always insisted that we clean the kitchen thereafter.
  • Mom made the creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and gravy to go with the rest of the fixings.
  • We had pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert.

Once I married and set up my own household, the Christmas feast moved to our place with Dad and Mom taking control of our kitchen to prepare the traditional meal. Spike’s family joined in the fun with gratitude for the delicious food and the break from cooking and cleaning up. I still helped out, but Dad and Mom were the chefs extraordinaire.

I’ve always meant to carry on the tradition once my parents turned in their aprons. But my packed schedule combined with the magnitude of the task have conspired against me. Besides, it has been so much easier being a guest at my folks’ continuing care community. The food is delicious, and someone else does all the work.

I’m a bit melancholy this year with the realization that my mother, brother, and I are the only ones left from all those years of family Christmases. I’m grateful to have lived near the extended family and had the opportunity to share holidays with them. I’m grateful for having parents who knew how to make those days really special. And I’m grateful for all those photos that captured the merriment… even when I looked like a total dork!

Here’s hoping you have a delightful holiday fill with joy, laughter, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Take Time for Self-Care

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about slowing down with a nod to Cheryl Richardson’s short essay on the benefits of boredom. That message still resonates loudly for me. Having just come through 2 straight weekends of performances (and all the rehearsals that go with them), I feel an intense craving for down time. Unfortunately, I still have a packed holiday schedule, so I may not satisfy my craving for a little while.

I’ve been thinking a good deal about what happens when my schedule gets congested. Chief among the outcomes is the noticeable absence of healthy self-care rituals:

  • take care of yourself firstI didn’t make it to any of my yoga/tai chi classes last weeks (and could sense how much my body tightened up as a result!)
  • I didn’t make it to the gym. Not even once!
  • I didn’t prepare my usual complement of healthy meals and had an unusual craving for salty, sweet, fattening offerings. Yep – comfort food was screaming my name!
  • I got home late several nights and was so wound up that I had trouble sleeping.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that these lapses are not good for my body or my immune system. And it’s an especially difficult time of year to put myself under this kind of strain given all the germs that are flying around. No wonder I’m feeling under the weather today!

We live in a culture that venerates hard-charging “warriors” who are active in all kinds of things and gets lots of thing done. We look up to leaders who carry substantive responsibility for the world, their organizations, their people, and themselves. I like being someone who can run with the “big dogs” and carry a big load. And yet I recognize the toll that it takes … and I have had that flash of insight many, many times over the years! It’s time I either lighten the load or get others to help me carry it.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m incredibly blessed to have all of the wonderful opportunities that have come into my life. I love being active; I relish the relationships that come with membership in my various groups. It’s just long past time that I practiced moderation and delegation.

One of the side benefits of following a predominantly whole food plant-based diet is all the time spent in the kitchen chopping, slicing, dicing, and cooking. It forces me to step away from the hustle-bustle of life – generally with my husband as Sous-Chef – where I’m in a somewhat meditative state while basking in the aromas that waft through the air. It just takes a little bit of planning and a commitment to my role as Head Chef. And, of course, I get great food in that bargain.

Perhaps I should follow the sage advice of personal coaches everywhere – put self-care on my calendar and declare that time sacrosanct!

Slow Down!

Nearly 20 years ago, seven other ladies joined me in a year-long discussion group centered on Cheryl Richardson’s Life Makeovers: 52 Practical & Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time. Each week’s reading includes a short essay, a Take Action challenge, and a list of resources for further study. It’s a manageable way to effect change in your life even if your schedule is as congested as mine always seems to be.

Our little group was cobbled together by pairings of associations. We each knew at least one other person in the group, but we met others for the first time at our first luncheon. Within six months, we’d formed a tight-knit association that provided a solid base of support as we each experienced substantive life changes. It has remained intact over the years despite a scattering across the country.

This year, I decided to go through the weekly lessons one last time on my own before sending it off to the library resale store. (I’m gradually thinning out my bookshelves as part of my long-term downsizing effort.) Most of the lifestyle adjustments she recommends have been integrated into my life. Some are active long-term projects. And some stubbornly refuse to yield to her good advice.

slow downAs a case in point, I just finished reading the chapter entitled “The Benefits of Boredom.” She notes that in an adrenaline-fueled society, it can be really challenging to slow down and do nothing – especially if you’re someone who has become inured to being on-the-go all the time. Sitting still and doing nothing can be really uncomfortable. And yet it’s that quiet time that promotes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

I’ve written posts previously on the deleterious effects of sustained stress on the body. I’ve also written several posts on the positive impact of a regular practice of meditation. I understand intellectually why it’s not helping me to operate with such a congested calendar all the time. I really notice it when I’m in the thick of an overbooked schedule and make promises to not let myself get caught up in it again. And yet, I find myself in that position repeatedly. A good friend has told me that she’s going to partner with my husband and call for an “intervention.”

Clearly, I don’t like the do-nothing feeling. That’s why I’ve had such difficulty settling into a meditation practice even though I know it would be good for me. But my circumstances also arise as a function of excitement over opportunities that present themselves. For example, I’m presently singing in two choirs and have a small role in a musical theater production… on top of work, parent care, book group, entertaining, and the usual household responsibilities. But I’d kick myself if I didn’t take advantage of them while I’ve got the energy and resources to do so.

That being said, life managed to give me a wake-up call last week. I received a traffic citation by mail for exceeding the speed limit in downtown Beaverton. In fairness, I didn’t realize that the 4-lane road on which I drive repeatedly has variable speed limits depending upon one’s proximity to the main downtown area. (Lesson learned!) But the message that I’m rushing around entirely too much has gotten through loud and clear. It’s time for me to take a step back and make more intelligent decisions regarding how I spend my time.

In truth, I have plenty of time for self-care and quiet contemplation if I would just pay closer attention to how I spend it. I can say “no” to things that are low priorities. I can watch less television. I can put placeholders in my calendar for soul-nourishing activities for which I do not feel rushed in their pursuit. I can pace myself with respect to the performing arts opportunities so that I’m not booked solid in the evening. And I can opt for activities that might be fun for my husband and I to enjoy together… now that he is retired!

The holiday season brings both joy and a bit of craziness to most of our lives. This year, I’m giving myself the gift of peace and a promise to take things a little easier next year.

My Football Stadium of Relationships

I was never much into football in my youth. But when I joined a co-ed, intramural flag football team in college, I got totally hooked. All of a sudden, the Saturday collegiate and Sunday professional games made sense. In fact, during the first 25 years of our marriage, my husband and I were glued to the tube on Sundays watching football while eating mass quantities of popcorn. Those were the days!

So, when I started thinking about all of the relationships in my life, it was easy for me to think about them in the context of a football stadium and all the action that takes place on the field.

football field

My “teammates” represent the most important relationships in my life. They’re the folks who’re on the field figuring out how we’ll reach our goals and doing the work to get there. They show up week-after-week, ready-to-go in all kinds of weather. We rejoice together when we make progress toward our goals. We keep one another motivated when we have set-backs. We pick one another up when we fall. And we don’t care how much mud we accumulate in the process.

I cannot do anything meaningful, challenging, risky, or great without “teammates.” And I can’t imagine relishing life as much as I do without them.

The “opposing team” might include challengers or challenges that we intentionally place on the field to stretch ourselves and perfect our skills and strategies. They might include “teammates” who temporarily fill that role to help us become better prepared to address the real thing. And they might include adversaries and adversities that we hadn’t anticipated and for which we need effective responses.

Opposition is not a bad thing. It creates opportunities to expand our horizons while making us smarter, stronger, more experienced, and more vibrantly alive. It also encourages us to deepen connection with our teammates.

My “coaches” are experienced teachers, trainers, observers, and subject matter experts who’ve played the game and know how to succeed. They may excel at strategy, individual training, team building, or all of the above. They are passionately committed to crossing the goal line yet retain the professional detachment to render objective assessments and advice.

Having a coach is not a sign of weakness. It’s an indication that you take the game seriously and want to give yourself the right tools, training, and level-headed counsel to succeed.

In life and on the field, you need to be as adept at playing offense as you do defense. You may wind up having slightly different teammates and coaches to attain mastery in both disciplines. And these “rosters” will likely change many times over the course of lifetime.

Changes in lifestyles, circumstances, goals, shared interests, etc. have a ripple effect on everyone’s lives. If you’re lucky, a precious few will sustain key roles in your life over the years. Yet, you’ll always need to be engaged in community to attract people into your stadium (and be open to entering theirs!)

Everyone else hangs out somewhere in the stands. Some serve as a cheering squad to provide loads of encouragement during the game of life. Some occupy close-in seats so that they can keep a close watch on the action. Some sit farther afield and pay attention from time to time. Others sit in the end zone up in the second tier and spend most of their time talking to their friends while eating and drinking. They may plug in when something noteworthy occurs.

We all make varying investments in the people in our lives. And we all implicitly set expectations for how we expect folks to show up for us. We need to discern accurately where folks “choose their seats” in our stadiums and set our expectations accordingly. As such, we won’t work ourselves into a lather if someone doesn’t notice what’s happening on the field if they’ve opted to sit in the nosebleed seats and drink beer. Just bless them for showing up!

I reserve the right to deny access to my stadium. I’m good to go with constructive opposition that serves a useful purpose for all concerned. But I’ve come to a place in my life where I don’t need relationships that are chronically and incorrigibly negative. That’s my definition of a lose-lose proposition. And why go there?

As you look at your stadium of life, do you have all of the people you’d like to fill the positions you have available? If not, what are you prepared to do about it?