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As We Move Forward: When People Leave

GoodbyeThink about someone that has left you. That individual could be any of numerous possibilities. It could be a childhood friend whose family moved away. Maybe it was an older brother or sister who left for college or to get married. Ever more common in our society is a person leaving as the result of separation or divorce. On an even sadder note it could be someone who left due to serious illness or death. Whatever the reason, think about what the loss following the person was like. In the situations mentioned above, it is to be expected that the loss would result in feelings of loss, sadness or even anger and fear.

As we get older, the frequency of people leaving seems to increase. Changing settings like playing with friends in your neighborhood to entering preschool or kindergarten can result in the effect of having many people leave. With the progression through school, changing makeup of classes results in people leaving. This can further be aggravated in the progress from elementary school to junior high and high school. The phenomenon of people leaving in these situations may not be as final or unchangeable as some of the earlier examples, but changing interests due to maturing can make the feeling of being left feel just as real.

From graduation from high school onward, this phenomenon can become more intense and more permanent. While some people live as adults in the place they grew up, not everyone does. Most people can think of people we were once close to who went in different directions at one of these critical junctures in life. Take a moment and think about some of these people and what it once meant to have them as a part of your life.

Possibly one of the most difficult situations occurs when people just leave, for no reason that makes any sense. Think about someone in your life who was once a close friend but is now just a distant memory. If you have ever reconnected with someone from your past, only to discover there is no longer any interest in a current relationship, either on your part or theirs, that can be a really eye-opening revelation.

As we move forward, it is good to realize that relationships are to be treasured and enjoyed for what they represent here and now. While some relationships do stand the test of time, many do not. When people leave, it is obviously a time of change and transition. The important thing to hold on to is what we are moving from and where we are going.

GraduationAs we move forward, our goal should be to retain the best of all our past relationships and seek to use what we have learned to become the best person we can be. When people leave, it is hopefully like a parent who sees their child off to success as an adult, knowing they have made their prior relationship all they could and being confident the child leaving will find satisfaction and fulfillment in the next chapter of their life. When people leave, it should be bittersweet.

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We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Have An Adventure

There are numerous ways to describe our life. One of the most creative is to see it as a ride. At its beginning, we each get our ticket validated from vastly different starting places. It can be mind boggling to consider how many variables could be present in our starting point. There are factors like history, geography and socio-economic differences that can affect where the journey begins.

Roller CoasterAdventure comes naturally and easily to young children. The imagination of a child has few if any limits. Sometimes as we make the transitions in life, the ride can take unexpected twists and turns. One way to look at it is like riding a roller coaster. There can be long, slow trips up a hill. The pace and the anticipation can seem endless. Suddenly, there is a rush as the ride comes over the hill. We either lift our arms up in the air and scream in excitement or hang on in fear. The ride goes on.

The ups and downs can cause us to get caught up in the day to day routine and temporarily lose sight of the adventure and the vision. Patterns, discipline and even routines are important in navigating the journey of life. The danger comes when we get so caught up in our routines we forget the spontaneity and the joy that this ride of life can be.

Do you ever get so caught up in doing what you have to do that you forget that you have the right to do something just because you can? I have travelled in forty-nine of the fifty states. There have been some tremendous adventures in these journeys on the ride of life. I treasure these and countless other adventures I have had in my life, all the fascinating places I have visited and all the interesting people I have met and shared with.

Ride Through The MountainsAs we move forward, I encourage you to look for the chance to have adventures in life. Remember to do the spontaneous, fun things just because you can. Enjoy this ride, your life. You are entitled to the best ride possible.

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We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Red, Yellow and Green

I was sitting on my car the other day when I suddenly realized the incredible power of the color red. I found myself looking at the light with virtually no memory of stopping the car. Suddenly the light before me was green. I realized I was moving again without any conscious awareness of what had happened to cause me to start driving. I spent a few minutes in utter amazement at how effortlessly and without conscious awareness this had all taken place.

I began thinking of how many times I had stopped at a red light, again, most often with out being aware of what was happening. I started thinking about times I was sitting at red lights, trying to recall situations where I actually had some memory of what was going on in front of me. I thought of times when I was stopped a through lane and a green signal appeared in a turn lane. I realized that I often have an involuntary response in those cases to move forward.

I know I am not the only one who has these involuntary responses. I was actually struck from behind while sitting at a red light in a straight through lane. The green turn signal in the left turn lane lighted up, and the driver behind me accelerated, running into me.

This got me to thinking how powerful and how universal the symbols of red, yellow and green have become. All over the world people move ahead on seeing green and instinctively stop on seeing red. There does appear to be some lack of uniformity on the meaning of yellow. Some see it as meaning caution, while a few see it as meaning speed up and barrel through the intersection!

We have a number of very powerful symbols in our lives. These are images that evoke strong emotional responses just by seeing them. These symbols can serve as short cuts to action, allowing us to know what action to take simply by observing the symbol. Some are nearly as universal as red, yellow and green. Some relate to a particular place or event. For many Americans, the flag serves to call forth very strong emotional responses and even action on our part.

There are places and monuments that can have the same effect and call forth immediate responses. It is the goal of advertisers to create brands that have this effect.

Traffic LightAs we move forward, it might be helpful to start with red, yellow and green and examine some of the symbols in our lives that call us to action every time, with the consistency of the traffic light. It can also be helpful for us to develop an understanding of the symbols that seem to have great meaning for others.

Think about these things the next time you suddenly realize you are stopped at a small circle of glowing red. What do your thoughts at that moment tell you about yourself?

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We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Waiting

WaitingAs people, waiting is not something that comes naturally to us. Anyone who has ever provided care for a newborn knows that they do not wait to let others know whatever they want or need. Waiting is clearly a learned activity. Some time in early childhood.

We gradually learn what it means to wait. As young children, most, if not all, of us remember the never ending waiting for Christmas. When we are in school, who of us does not remember waiting for summer and the accompanying end of school? Those times can seem interminable.

In the larger arena, children are always waiting until they are old enough, tall enough or something else out in the future, requiring the person to wait. Most of the time we wait for things we are eager for. While these times of waiting can seem to go forever, the outcome is something to be anticipated and looked forward to.

Some things we wait for do not have the same expectation of a good outcome. At the very least, some periods of waiting can lead to either a positive or negative experience for the person involved. Waiting for the results of medical tests can make waiting terrifying if there is reasonable chance the outcome might be negative.

Waiting is clearly a part of medicine. Hospitals and doctors’ offices all have waiting rooms. It is a given. We could devote a lot of time to consider what to do while we are doing all this waiting. It is time we will never get back. Are we doing something constructive with our waiting time, something that will improve the quality of our lives? In six months, one year, five years we will be that much older. What will we have done with the time? Will our lives and the lives of others be better because of the time we have spent waiting to get where we are?

WaitingAs we move forward, it might be helpful to look at what we have waited for during our lives and what we have accomplished with the time we have spent. Are there better uses we could have made of the time spent waiting? What are we waiting for now, and how can we make maximum use of that time? What is one small thing we can do with time spent waiting to make someone’s life better? What would it take to make us ready to take that one small step? Join me in making the best use of out time spent waiting.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Do Unto Others….

HelpingThis is a phrase that practically everyone has heard. It can be used to encourage the very best behavior. There are some basic presumptions behind this teaching. When we begin life, this is as far from reality as we get. A tiny baby only wants its own needs met immediately. As toddlers, we struggle with putting others first. We learn independent play while others are close by. There is little if any interaction even if there are a number of children in the group. It is still doing what each child wants. The only interaction likely in these situations is likely to happen if one child wants a toy someone else is playing with and makes an effort to take it away.

We do learn to behave better with other people. We learn rules like raising our hand to be given permission to speak, cooperating with others on a group or a team when working on a project or playing a team sport. Even this behavior does not rise to the standard of “Do unto others….” The goal of completing a group project or being successful in a team sport places the goal on completing the task at hand. These efforts may stop at even cooperating with others, using your own particular skill to achieve the overall goal. This may be a worthy goal, but is not the same.

As we mature, hopefully we develop relationships where the needs and desires of other people are important to us. The willingness to treat others in the same way we would want them to treat us requires incredible self awareness. There is a tendency today to react to what others say or do without any real regard to what consequences might occur as a result.

Social media gives us an audience for our instant reaction to almost anything. I have heard many people comment on how easily a text can be misunderstood. Face to face communication, especially with the commitment to listen to what the other person is really saying increases the chances of our treating others with courtesy and respect implied in this advice.

GroupAs we move forward, it serves us well to put ourselves in the other person’s place before we act. Asking how your actions would make you feel can go a long way toward improving all of our relationships. How would anger or other strong emotion that is driving the thing you are about to do make you feel?

We will never be perfect in this, but as we move forward, the progress we make will have some amazing results.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Too Much Information

TalkingWhen you ask questions, do you ever find that the person you are speaking with tells you much more than you wanted in answer to your question? Very likely all of us have had that experience. Turning it around, how many of us find ourselves giving a more elaborate explanation than seems called for in the question we have been asked? Why do you think this is the case?

The answer to that will probably depend as much on how we process information. Some of us simply share everything we know every time we get the chance. Some of us seem to believe that the people we encounter in daily situations are interested in every detail of our lives. Other people act as if every word was worth its wait in gold, and they don’t share any more of them than absolutely necessary. Obviously, some balance between these two extremes in information sharing leads to healthy relationships.

We might find it useful to begin with ourselves and the others with whom we have close relationship to see how the exchange of information is carried out in our lives. Many of us have had someone in our lives who seemed to “love the sound of their own voice.” If this person was an authority figure in our lives, such as a parent, teacher, older sibling or supervisor, we may have had little if any choice in the relationship. In one of these cases, our response may be on the order of listening to the person without really hearing what are saying. This might be described as the equivalent of having a radio or TV on as “background” for an activity like studying. Asking someone in a situation like this what is being said on the background device might produce a response of, “I don’t know. Having it on helps me concentrate on what I’m doing.”

One benefit of using the internet is that it forces us to be specific in framing the question we are asking to be sure of getting the response we are seeking to the search for information.

TalkingAs we move forward it is important to be as aware as possible where our relationships fall on the too much / too little spectrum. If we are receiving too much information from people in our relationships, we might benefit from some basic trading in empathic listening to learn how to help the one speaking get their thoughts out with greater clarity.

The benefits of even modest efforts in this direction can make our relationships more satisfying for everyone involved. Let us strive to move forward together in striving to make each of our relationships the very best it can be.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Honoring Commitments

ChildCommitments are an important part of any relationship. They can go to the most basic human involvements. Each of us is here because at least one person decided to honor the developing relationship between unborn child and mother to see that relationship through to birth. Even here, relationships can become complex very quickly.

Honoring this basic commitment may involve the mother and the father agreeing to accept, and raise the child. Other possibilities for the relationship with the newborn child may involve one or more of the biological parents. The primary relationship with the child might involve one or more other individuals, with or without any biological connection to the child. Commitment to the relationship may be temporary or long term and may be based on a variety of motivating factors.

This look at circumstances surrounding each of our first relationships shows how incredibly complex our relationships can be from the very beginning. From here it is easy to see how involved making and honoring commitments can be from the very beginning.

I dare to suggest that relationships and the making and honoring of commitments only becomes more complicated from this point on. Children can quickly develop preferences among the people in their lives. Choices of who a child will associate with, likes and dislikes are apparent at an early age. Many early relationships are based largely on the like/dislike factors in a relationship. Making and honoring commitments in these early relationships often comes down to who we like and who we do not.

As our understanding of the world around us grows, our basis for making relationships shifts to shared ideas and shared beliefs. We make and honor commitments more and more often based on things we agree on. As these relationships and the commitments that grow from them become more and more based on shared ideas and beliefs, the commitments tend to be of a deeper, more long lasting nature.

This is not always a straight line path. As we grow up, some of us enter relationships and make commitments where we do not share ideas nor beliefs. It may be excitement or a sense of adventure that draws us toward relationships that are outside what has been the norm for us. Honoring commitments in these new relationships may cause conflict with some of our previous relationships.

FriendsAs we move forward, it might be useful to think about relationships we are a part of and the commitments that are part of those relationships. How do we feel about the commitments in these relationships and how they are honored? We live in a world where commitment can easily be called into questioned or even held up to ridicule. It is not uncommon to have long-held beliefs not just challenged, but criticized or ridiculed, often with no real basis other than the fact that someone says we are wrong.

As we move forward, we might find it helpful to have as clear an understanding as possible of our relationships and the commitments that are part of them. In this way, we can be sure that the relationships we are part of and the commitments that are part of them make the most sense. In this way, we can seek to be consistent in how we live our lives and our relationships, and how we honor our commitments.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Managing Disappointment

Disappointed

Think of a time when you experienced real disappointment. This is more than simply feeling sad about something that did or did not happen. Disappointment regarding something significant that we expected to happen that did not. It can also involve one or more people who promised us something that did not come to pass. Disappointment does not necessarily involve something of major significance. It just needs to seem that way at the time. Not being chosen for a particular team as a child may seem like a major issue at the time. It becomes a disappointment if it becomes part of a pattern of experiences that has a major effect on our lives.

Some people look back at having to move as a child and losing things like friends, a school they liked, a house and neighborhood that had significance for them as a disappointment. Our response to an experience like this is highly subjective. One person might view this move as a tragedy affecting their whole life. Another person might view a move like this as an exciting adventure that opened doors of opportunity and exciting growth.

This suggests that a big part of experiencing things as either disappointment or opportunities for growth is found in our attitude toward these times of change. It can be helpful to examine the causes of our disappointment.

If a person seems to be the cause, what is it about our relationship with that person or group of persons that allowed events to reach the level of a disappointment? Are there other, similar events in your life that did not result in a real disappointment? What was different those times?

Thinking

It is also helpful to look at our reaction to disappointment. There are people who simply give up. After a while and a number of disappointments, these people show no willingness or ability to rise above disappointments. There are some people who lash out at every situation that might lead to a disappointment. These people tend to find someone or some event to blame. Their anger serves as their escape from ever having to deal with a disappointment head on. Their anger becomes the arena in which. They live their lives.

As we move forward, let’s focus on ways we can do problem solving when confronted with a situation that might become a disappointment. Logical, reasonable responses will often go a long way toward resolving a situation in ways that benefit everyone involved. The increased understanding that can come from problem solving can keep many situations from turning into disappointments.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

As We Move Forward: Making Choices

Choices

One of the things that sets us apart as humans is the process of making choices. Tiny babies respond to stimuli like hunger and tiredness and the attention of others. Gradually children learn to differentiate in which things and even persons to respond to and what the response will be. Making choices starts with little things like choosing which toy you want to play with. As children get older, they begin to express preferences and gradually have increasing discretion in what foods they eat, what clothes they wear and what activities they engage in. This is all a part of the very complicated process of making choices.

This is where the whole making choices thing starts to take off in some very interesting directions. Choices have consequences. To choose to go in one direction opens up many opportunities, but it also closes some off. Our families make choices for us that

Even though I grew up within a few miles of one of the Great Lakes, I did not have the opportunity to learn to swim as a child. I did take lessons as an adult, but I have never been more than a barely adequate swimmer. I made the choice to seek out summer jobs at an early age. Because I lived in a tourist area, part time seasonal jobs were readily available for young people. I chose to enhance my discretionary income through part time work and found that to be very satisfying. Some of those efforts have led me to be adventurous throughout my adult life.

I can trace many outcomes in my life to simple choices I made in areas like education, vocation, relationships and even things involving travel and recreation. It amazes me how often a single, seemingly isolated event has brought about a choice or even choices that have far reaching consequences in the future.

Thinking

As we move forward, it can be helpful to examine where our lives are at presently and to examine some of the choices that seem to have led us to where we are. At the very least this examination can lead to greater understanding of how we came to be where we find ourselves. This increased understanding might also lead us to greater acceptance of ourselves as products of the choices we have made and other people who have made different choices.

I believe we make the best choices we can given the information we have. As we move forward, let us strive to make the best informed choices possible in every situation.

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As We Move Forward: Above and Beyond

Helping

When you are asked to do something for someone else, ask yourself how you tend to respond. Several responses could include ignoring the request. This might be easier to do in certain relationships such as those involving family, friends or acquaintances. The more serious consequences of this type of response would include disappointing people. Continuing to behave this way will almost certainly lead to major tension in these relationships and may ultimately result in some of these relationships being terminated.

Another possible response involves doing just as much as necessary in each instance. An example of this might be a student who figures out what the minimum response is required in each situation and does only that. This could include attending class but participating only when specifically called on and then giving only the minimally acceptable response. This could include doing required assignments, but only to the extent of meeting the basic requirements in each situation.

An employee performing at this level might do all the things specifically required in the job description without ever volunteering for anything extra or contributing and extra effort or energy to any aspect of the job. This behavior is certainly more acceptable from an employee than refusing to comply with requests would be. It seems a large number of employees perform at this level. Employers appreciate people who perform at the acceptable level. The consequences to performing at this level could include lack of opportunities for advancement and little in the way of recognition beyond a basic appreciation for doing the job for which someone was hired.

Another response could be described as going above and beyond. In personal and informal relationships, this behavior would start with a real desire to know the needs and desires of someone else and to constantly think of ways to do things to make someone’s life better and happier. The person behaving in this way is someone sought after and valued as a friend.

In school, this is the person who not only volunteers in class, but who does extra reading and study and who seeks to make the educational experience the best it can be for everyone.

The employee who goes above and beyond is always thinking of how things can be better for follow workers and everyone involved in the organization. This person tends to receive recognition and responsibility for their actions which make things better overall.

Helping

As we move forward, it is helpful to look at how we respond to requests from others. If we sometimes tend to not comply or are only doing the minimal, it might be helpful to ask what in that relationship makes us want to make that response. Why do we go above and beyond when we do? Why do others go above and beyond? Are there things that could make over and above our normal response? The consequences of that discover could make our lives and the lives of others better and happier.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.