Category Archives: As We Move Forward

What are we focused on? How can we move forward in the hardest times?

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That’s A Crazy Idea

As We Move Forward: That’s A Crazy Idea


We start out in life by learning things that are already known. We learn to color within the lines. We finally master our ABC’s. Following that we learn the sounds the letters make. This leads to sounding out words. This, of course, leads to reading and writing sentences. The fact is for some people, that is as far as this goes. We all learn to use language sufficiently to communicate in our daily lives. Some of us become somewhat skilled at the use of language to communicate, and others have only a functional grasp.

The same pattern holds true for the use of numbers. After we learn to count, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into learning various functions. I remember learning my addition tables. Many of these we simply memorized. Learning by rote gave us a basic grasp of the tools we need. There were, if memory serves correctly, also multiplication tables to be learned. A lot of work went into the process. I do recall a real sense of satisfaction at mastery of all those facts.

Music is another discipline that starts out by memorizing. If we make any real progress in either vocal or instrumental music, learning the noites is the basic starting place. To advance, we learn things like octaves. We also become aware of sharps and flats. Relatively few people make it beyond a rudimentary understanding of music theory, but there can be limitless satisfaction for those who do.

These three areas in which ideas and feelings can be expressed and communicated represent some of the areas in life in which most of us acquire a basic understanding. It is entirely possible none of us has gotten a crazy, brilliant idea in one or more of these areas. As an example, I have never had a moment of inspiration regarding numbers. I have never thought of something even remotely related to numbers and wondered why no one had ever thought of that before. There is really no possibility that I will ever think of something like the theory of relativity or observe something and speak something as profound as the law of gravity.

My point is not that I will most likely not discover something profound and life altering as these discoveries. It is at least fairly certain I will not do this in one of these areas. On the other hand, I haven’t totally given up on having one of those discoveries in another area of life. I will admit I have had a few times in my life when I was pretty certain I had a way of thinking about things or doing things that no one was doing at the moment.

While these ideas have exactly changed the world, I would like to believe they have improved if not drastically altered the lives of others for the better. Let me tell you a little secret. If you are going to come up with crazy ideas, have several. More of my crazy ideas have ended up being just that than the ones that have made and difference at all.


As we move forward, take time to think of ideas you have had that might have seemed crazy, simply because no one has thought of it before. These can come from your personal experiences. I often ask people,”What would you do if time and money were not a factor?” That can be an exciting way to dream and envision.

As we move forward, I invite you to join me in searching for those new, unique, yet untried ideas. You’ll never know what your “crazy” idea might mean to someone else, or even the world.

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What is Your Calling?

As We Move Forward: What is Your Calling?

Woman In field

Have you ever written a mission statement? To get ready to write one, you can ask,”What is my calling in life?” “What is the purpose of my life?” Another way to ask that question is, “What inspires me the most?” We all have those moments of clarity and vision when we see vividly what life has in store for us.

Most of us know someone who always wanted to be or to achieve a certain thing in life. Will future generations look back at that moment in your life from which the whole future took off, or will you look at that moment in your past as the time when you saw the possibilities but decided it was simply beyond your reach?

The first can be the moment when history was changed, even if only for you and those around you. The second is simply the dim recollection of what might have been if only….

It is never too late to discover your mission or purpose in life. In the same way, it is never too late to develop your mission statement. A mission statement I have developed is helping people discover and achieve things they want in their lives.

While this may seem very simple, it actually involves several steps that are very complex. First, I have to listen carefully to what people say since at this point, most people don’t yet know what they want. I have a certain ability to hear desires in dreams in what other people are saying. I

Part of the process involves me seeing possibilities that could accomplish what people seem to be saying they want. I see big pictures, not finished details. If an idea I have captures someone’s imagination, I encourage them to develop the idea into what they were wishing for. I work best if I am not involved in all the details of the day to day operation of a particular vision.

My satisfaction comes from presenting the idea. Others get satisfaction from carrying the idea out. I often marvel at how complex some of these ideas have become. Sometimes I ask if the people who make the dream a reality really enjoy what they are doing. I am constantly surprised when they tell me what they get from the thing we have created.

What would a mission statement look like for you? What would represent your calling, your deepest values? What would you like your children and grandchildren to remember you for? Do you have some dream left from an earlier time in your life which you have always wished you had acted on? These could be your calling. This could be the thing the world is waiting for you to do.

As we move forward, let us take some time to consider our calling. What can you add to make the world, at least the world around you a better place? What could you do today to start making that happen? Experience the excitement. Find your calling. Go after your mission.

Decide That Your Life Is Your Own

As We Move Forward: Decide That Your Life Is Your Own

Education, children, happiness

One of our greatest days is the one in which we decide that our life is our own. Things certainly don’t start out that way. We come into the world as the child of a parent or parents. Everything anyone thinks or says about you is based on things they know or at least believe about you based on your family. That can be a real gift in those early years of life. Since people don’t judge a young child on their own merit, you can, and do, tend to lean on and rely on your own family for a lot of what people believe about you.

Your reputation in life starts out being based on who your family is. You rely on them without even realizing it. In a negative way, you can even blame them for things that you actually do, especially if some members of your family have less than stellar reputations.

Of course, it works the other way around. I remember some of the kids from rich families. Among other things, their families all belonged to the yacht club. As someone who occasionally was an invited guest at functions at the yacht club, I shared some of these expectations, based almost entirely on what I believed about these people based on this one indicator of their family’s income. One other thing about these families who belonged to the yacht club-most of them owned boats! One thing that imputed status in a community on Lake Erie was owning a boat—especially for those of us for whom this was something we could never imagine our families being able to do.

I guess I could say the same about people whose families owned businesses in our town. The group I most closely identified with was the group who had a parent who was a teacher. My father was a teacher, and a lot of my friends and acquaintances had parents who were teachers. As I reflect on that period in my life, I have to admit that reality shaped a lot of my view of myself and the world I was a part of.

With these and other factors as a starting place, life becomes more and more about the choices we make regarding the things that are important to us. These choices and the outcomes they lead to become more and more integral to the process of decisions we make to make our life our own.

These decisions can include classes we take in school, extracurricular activities that allow us to discover and refine new interests into skills. Some of the obvious decisions we make include what we do post high school. It might be college or technical school. It could be service in the military. Your choice might be getting a job or becoming an apprentice. There really are infinite choices in the decision to live a life that is our own. These can include who we go through life with, where will live as well as a number of other choices.


As we move forward, we can see more and more how the choices we make tend to reflect what is important to us as we act out our ongoing quest to live a life that is our own. As we look back on our early life, it is interesting to reflect on where those decisions have taken us.

As we move forward, how does where we are now compare to where we were? Now that our life is truly our own, how accurately does it reflect what is really important to us? What can we do today to ensure that the life we are living is really our own?

What Comes Next?

As We Move Forward: What Comes Next?

Child Thinking on a Question

One of the most frequent questions we ask throughout life is what comes next. We begin early anticipating the next thing to come along. When, as a small child, I began playing with other kids, it was normal to finish one activity and to be looking ahead to what the next thing would be. Can remember staying with my grandparents when my mother was in the hospital giving birth to my sister. Although I was too young to have abstract thoughts about what it might be like having a sister, I know I was eagerly anticipating what was coming in my life with the birth of a sister.

As any child, I looked forward to Christmas and birthdays. I can recall some of the gifts I received when I was too young to even know what I wanted. I have vivid memories of going to bed on Christmas Eve and waking up in excitement and anticipation of what was coming Christmas morning.

Some of my early memories include our family getting our first television. Some of the programs we watched are a blur to me, but one I remember was the Howdy Doody show. I would wait in front of the TV each day eager to see what was coming in this important aspect of my young life. The characters on this and other shows became real parts of my young life, and I looked forward to the things they would experience each day and could not wait to see what was coming next.

Around the time I was five, we moved to the house my parents lived for the rest of their lives. We got to see the house being built. Every few days we would go out and walk around as construction continued. I remember being excited to pick up discarded bent nails and scraps of wood as we saw our house taking shape. Even at five years old, I have strong memories of anticipating what was coming next. That house was my home until I went to college. A lot of my what comes next events took place in the context of that house.

Looking back, the escalation of events that ended in a what comes next scenario grew in both intensity and rapidity during those intervening years. Career choice, college, the choice of a spouse each had a very strong element of what comes next. Most of the things that have come next in my life have been positive. A few have been very traumatic. Mostly all of these events have resulted in changes I could have anticipated beforehand.

While some of these events leading to what comes next have resulted from decisions we have made, some have come about as the result of events that were beyond our control. This is the context of events such as the current crisis. A lot of what comes next seems to be a real part of our daily lives at this time.

Woman Reviewing Papers and using a Computer

As we move forward, particularly in this time of crisis, it can be helpful to review events in our own lives that have resulted in our wondering what comes next. Realizing the times in life we have already faced this question and come through with flying colors can help us face the question of what comes next today.

As we move forward, we can also use what we have learned to assist others in facing and working through this question. “What comes next?” We don’t know for sure. We do know that we should be confident we can face it together and succeed, together.

What Have You Always Wanted To Do?

As We Move Forward: What Have You Always Wanted To Do?

Baseball Stadium

How would you finish the phrase, “I have always wanted to…”? Throughout the course of our lives, there are experiences we have that make us want to have other, more exciting, extravagant experiences. I have only been to a few Major League Baseball games in my life. I am not a particularly avid sports fan, but I will admit to having imagined what it would be like to sit in the stands for the climactic game of a World Series.

I enjoyed watching both football and basketball in high school. I will admit to having imagined the experience of attending a championship game in either one of these sports. It is more the anticipation of the excitement of being at the moment of victory in an exciting game than the actual desire to see a favorite team achieve the victory that has motivated these desires.

After attending a bullfight during college, I will admit I have wondered what it would be like to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. While I would never have actually attempted that activity, it was exciting to imagine what it would be like. Although I am not a golfer, I have been on the 18th green of a golf course that hosts a Professional Golfers Association tournament every year.

Although my list of exciting things I have experienced might not inspire the passion of very many people, I have a few that are memorable to me. I once attended a concert of the Cleveland Orchestra and got to meet the principal bass player afterward. This was exciting for me because I played bass in the high school orchestra. I have visited some of the exciting wonders of this country, such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Carlsbad Caverns as well as a number of less well-known but equally magnificent sights. One significant event in my life was watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. What made it even more special for me was that I was in Mexico at the time and got to see it on Mexican television.

I have had the privilege of seeing and doing most of the things I have dreamed of doing. I have been able to accomplish and even exceed most of the goals I have set for myself. The good thing about a list like this is that I don’t have to measure what I have been able to do against anyone else. As I consider the list of adventures in my life, I recall how exciting, challenging, and overall enjoyable it has been accomplishing each one. Even the few things that have eluded me have been fascinating in the attempt.

Rock Climbing

As we move forward, why not list the adventures you have dreamed of in your life. Are there still things on the list that you would like to accomplish? Make a plan to do at least one of them. Some things just do not translate into seeing them on things like social media. As we emerge from the current time of crisis, make a plan to turn some of these dreams into reality.

As we move forward, how many of our dreamed-of adventures can we turn into pleasant, satisfying memories? What’s stopping you? Go have adventures!

Who Are Your Ancestors?

As We Move Forward: Who Are Your Ancestors?


At some point in our lives, we become aware of the facts of our background. Depending on our family and their attitude toward these facts, there may be a lot or only a little we learn. Depending on the community we live in, these facts may be emphasized. I remember my surprise at learning someone in my class had the same middle name as the name of our local hospital. I remember being very impressed that one of his recent ancestors was the person for whom the hospital was named.

I have known several people over the years who could trace their ancestry to someone who was a significant person in history. My wife’s family numbers Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain as an ancestor. I have known people who could trace lineage to groups like the Daughters of the American Revolution. I think I might also have known someone who could trace their ancestry to the Mayflower.

Tracing ancestry has become easier and more popular in recent years. Organizations that make records readily available, especially as they have become increasingly digitized, opened many more sources of tracing lineage and relationships over hundreds of years. One of the latest breakthroughs, DNA comparison has seemingly made it even easier to discover many additional facts about our ancestry and physical relationships. It will be fascinating to determine where these developments take us in the years to come.

We can broaden the concept of ancestry to encompass educational, vocational, and professional “ancestors” who contributed in some meaningful ways to who we have become. I think this is as significant and meaningful as physical ancestors. I am indebted to many people who have gone before me in many areas of life who have contributed to who I am today as meaningfully and significantly as if we shared DNA.

We seem to be living in a time when the whole concept of ancestry seems at times to be turned around. Sometimes it seems there is moment-to-moment changes in what is good in ancestry and what is not. This can make it confusing if not risky to search out our particular ancestry. I believe that we should be proud of our ancestry, both physical and educational/professional. So many things have gone into making us who we are. Each is significant and important.


As we move forward, we should eagerly look at our ancestry—all the things that have gone into helping us become who we are. We are incredibly complex in so many ways. Ancestry is part of what makes us each unique as individuals. The more we discover about this, the better we can understand and evaluate who we are. This can be extremely valuable in seeing where we are and planning for where we would like to be.

As we move forward, this knowledge can also help us be useful to others in our lives as they examine their own ancestry. May we find this journey exciting and rewarding.

Toward Altruism

As We Move Forward: Toward Altruism

Helping Across

Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves. Scientists speculate that altruism has such deep roots in human nature because helping and cooperation promote the survival of our species. Obviously, altruism is not something we are born with. As infants, the only thing that matters is immediate gratification. This total obsession with self represents the other extreme of true altruism. Throughout our lives, we find ourselves at various points on the spectrum between these two opposites.

As we develop relationships in our lives, we discover a lot about ourselves in relation to self-centeredness and altruism. We are drawn to people who behave in a more altruistic manner. We all want to be around someone who places our interests above their own. Ideally, parents and other close relatives demonstrate altruism in their relationships with us. Parents routinely put the needs of their children ahead of their own. We can all recall friends, teachers, and other significant people in our lives who sacrificially offered themselves and their abilities to help us achieve the things we want in our lives.

What is it that sets someone apart as being more on the side of altruism? Is your first thought in a situation what is going to benefit someone else or you? Are you more interested in what is happening in someone else’s life or in yours?

Another way of determining if we have altruistic motives or not is to ask ourselves what outcomes we look for in the things we face in life. Is it more important to win or to create a win/win scenario for you? Is it more important to you to understand someone else or that they understand you?

Helping Hand

Our culture seems to place a high value on being heard and not so much on understanding what other people are saying. There is and always has been a strong need for people who are not only willing to listen to the needs of others but who are willing to put those needs ahead of their own.

As we move forward, it can be helpful to ask ourselves how much we value someone. Are we able and willing to put their wants and needs ahead of our own? When can you remember someone setting aside their own needs and feelings to be sure yours were met? That is true altruism. The world needs that. We can make an incredible difference in someone’s life by putting their needs ahead of our own.

As we move forward, let’s make that our goal whenever possible.

Life Is A Ride

As We Move Forward: Life Is A Ride

Photo by Damon Lam on Unsplash

When I was four or five I remember visiting an amusement park with my grandparents. I rode a number of the rides in the kiddie section. Feeling adventurous, I begged my grandmother to let me ride the roller coaster. Very reluctantly she let me ride the roller coaster in the kiddie section. As the ride attendant was getting everyone settled in, I can recall feeling very brave and grown-up.

Suddenly it was time to start the ride. I was secured and watching my grandparents as things started to move. Suddenly, as I realized I was totally out of control, I became terrified. I didn’t raise my arms and shout with excitement. As I remember it, I cried, begging to get off the ride. As I recall, I did not stop crying until the little roller coaster made its two times around the track, and the ride ended.

I am pretty certain I never rode that particular ride again. Although I have ridden a number of roller coasters over the years, none have had quite the impact on me as that first one. There are many similarities to that and subsequent rides as to life in general. I tend to approach all rides with a wide range of emotions. Depending on whether the ride is familiar or new to me, my emotions may range from eager anticipation to real anxiety bordering on fear.

I have not ridden a roller coaster for several years now. One of the last times was when the adults in our group were riding a ride for which our two grandchildren were too young. I took them on another ride. No sooner had the ride started than our grandchildren started crying. At that moment it became clear to me that I had misjudged this ride and its effect on the young children I was trying to keep entertained. All three of us could not wait until that ride ended.

Life is often something we find ourselves experiencing, with very little idea of how we arrived at the place we find ourselves. We are secured in a position where we experience being out of control, with no real idea of where things are going. Life keeps going faster and faster. We can’t get off. Sometimes we hold our arms up and shout with wild excitement. Sometimes we just hold on with our eyes closed, trying to hang on until the ride is over.

Schooling could be an example of some of the segments of the ride that makes up our life. While we get to make more and more choices as we journey through school, it does go faster and faster, and at times we sense being out of control. We just hang on till the end.

Relationships and work environments can follow the same pattern. How often have we entered a new relationship or a new job without a clear idea of what was ahead? In both jobs and relationships, we can experience periods of being out of control. We can also experience things going faster and faster. Like on a ride, sometimes we wave our arms in the air and shout with excitement while at other times we just hang on so as not to fall off.

As we move forward, it might be interesting to look at how many times in our lives we experience being on a ride. The things that change involve how out of control we feel, how fast the ride goes, and how comfortable we feel about what we are experiencing.

We are also on these ride experiences with others. We may be able to help fellow riders by sharing our riding experiences with them. Whose life experience can you help make more enjoyable?

As We Move Forward: Slavery

One of the first things I remember feeling sadness over as I learned about the history of our country is the whole subject of slavery. I will admit most of what I know about slavery comes from what I have read and some of the historic sites I have visited over the years. I have come to think of slavery as a cancer that seems to have gotten into this country as it was being formed.

I have discovered that the idea of people owning other people began long before the founding and establishment of our country. It makes me sad to know that the practice is practiced today in many parts of our world. One of my earliest thoughts was that slavery is a cancer that got into our culture as our country was being formed.

At one time I thought that the plantation system that developed in the south was dependent on slavery for its operation. After visiting a number of southern plantation sites, I have come to a different conclusion. I now believe many of this country’s plantations were unwieldy and unstable. I think a different economy, made up of smaller farms, could have and probably would have developed with paid laborers. I am not a historian, and this observation is not based on any hard data, just my anecdotal observations over the years.

I am impressed with how many of the founders of our country worked to keep slavery from being woven into the fabric of our culture. History is filled with the heroic efforts of so many to overcome this evil. It is a sad commentary that we had to fight a war as part of the effort to remove this practice from our country.

One of the reasons I see slavery as a cancer on our nation is the lasting effect it continues to wield on all of us. Over my life, there have been a number of noble attempts to overcome the effects slavery has had on our country. Many of these efforts have produced good results, but it seems to me we are still suffering from most of the basic underlying issues.

There are other types of slavery that can affect our lives. Literally, people are still slaves to those who engage in trafficking. We can be enslaved by addiction to things like alcohol and drugs. The effects of these forms of slavery can be devastating and can have long-lasting consequences. From some reports I’ve seen on the news, the time of crisis we are experiencing seems to be increasing both the incidence and the negative effects of some of these types of slavery.

As we move forward, we might want to examine some of the people who have worked to combat slavery in the earlier period of our country. Do their lives and their efforts give us any insights as to how we can help combat some current forms of slavery?

Are there people we know who are experiencing any forms of slavery? Are there things we can do to help them? Some of the people in the Abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad were ordinary people who saw an opportunity to help others and took advantage of it. What’s one thing you can do to make a difference in someone’s struggle against slavery?

As We Move Forward: Handling Bad News

Getting Bad News

We have all dealt with bad news in our lives. Bad news might be described as the report of an unhappy recent event—to an unwanted or undesirable individual or circumstance. That pretty much describes anything that goes against what we would like to have happened. As children, being told we have to eat all the food on our plate, including the spinach, could be considered bad news. The same thing could be said about being told we have to pick up our room, take a bath or go to bed before we are ready.

It would certainly be bad news to have an older, bigger kid threaten you with harm if you did not do exactly what he wanted, like giving him your lunch money every day in exchange for not beating you up. Even though schools have a zero tolerance policy toward bullying, reports indicate that kids receive bad news from bullies regularly.

Bad news does not always involve threats or violence. Learning that your best friend is moving away would certainly be considered bad news. It would also be bad news to get a bad grade on a test or to learn you were not chosen for a team or did not receive a part in a play you had tried out for.

Several things these examples have in common is the fact that they may be traumatic, but they would probably not be considered life-threatening. They might, however, be life altering depending on hoe seriously they impacted the people involved. The way we respond to bad news has a lot to with how we feel about ourselves and our place in the world. There are a number of aspects to the transmission of bad news. We think primarily of the recipient of the news, and that is certainly an important part of the transmission of bad news. One thing we tend not to take into consideration is the person giving the bad news.

I have had the experience of being with several people during their death. There is probably nothing more traumatic than getting word of the death of a lived one, especially if that death is unexpected. I have accompanied a police officer to inform a family of the tragic accident that took the life of a husband/father. I don’t think I will ever forget the scene when they opened the door. Seeing me with the officer confirmed what they had feared.

II have never been fired from a job, and for more than forty years I never had to deal directly with the issue of job termination. I now know first hand what it is like to tell someone their employment is ended. Although each time this happens, it is following a deliberate attempt to solve the problem before taking this action, I have never spoken these words without a deep sense of sadness over the changes this would cause in this person’s life. Giving bad news can be as traumatic in its own way as receiving bad news. There are consequences whenever bad news is delivered.


As we move forward, let’s remember that bad news is given and received even in the midst of a crisis. The crisis may increase the impact of the bad news. It can be like trying to run with a leg injury. Emotions brought on by the crisis may affect the giver and the receiver of bad news in ways that would not happen if the individuals involved were not in crisis.

As we move forward, we might want to ask how the crisis we are experiencing is affecting us and those around us as we both receive and have to deliver bad news. If we can separate the crisis from the bad news, we may be better able to handle the bad news.