Monday, March 06, 2017

Lenten thoughts

As we head into the Lenten season, I have been giving more and more thought to my faith and the direction of my faith journey. We are called to love one another as ourselves. Giving this more careful consideration gives me pause. I think we tend to forget we are children of God, and the Father calls us to have genuine love for each other. Hard as it is sometimes, that love should not be of the 'if it'll shut you up,' nature, but rather heartfelt joy toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is unfortunately the ultimate goal and not the usual reality.
   Living a committed Christian life is not about "Living with" people or 'putting up with" them. It's about praying for them and helping them along the journey. Not dismissing them or mocking them. All this is unfortunately easier said than done in this day and age, but it is something to strive for and contemplate in this Lenten season of sacrifice and focus on others.
   We need a more forgiving nature, so to be forgiven "as we forgive those who trespass against us. Guide, don't chide.
We all need to pray for the grace and strength to pray for each other and how to make all of our lives better.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Good for all of them

Grateful locals give man big thank-you for ending police chase through Syracuse Park

I love hearing about things like this. This guy unselfishly used his truck to cut off the driver in a police chase through a local park, and the local auto repair shop gave him $15,000 in repairs and upgrades. Seems like society is increasingly selfish, and it's heartwarming to know there are still people like this guy. Big kudos to the auto body repair shop too, for not only making repairs, but adding upgrades that cost more than the repairs. A thank-you like that is even more meaningful because it's not why this guy did what he did. Here's to how America should be.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Value-able tips for graduates

For some time, I've been meaning to pay it forward a little by offering recent graduates some advice as they start their careers. I mean pay it forward in the sense that I want to help them avoid some of the same mistakes I made. Not so much what I did as what I didn't do.
   I've come to learn over the years that the most important task you have when beginning your career is creating and projecting as much value to a company as you can. 
  Employers obviously want to know what you can bring to the table. This means getting as involved in college as you can. Make yourself a problem-solver and working on projecting that image to potential employers as part of your professional brand. 
   College should be as much about learning to solve problems and offer solutions as it is to getting the best grades you can. Always think in terms of your "Here's what I can offer you" answer. Developing that mindset as soon as possible will help you out immensely.
   Once you've landed the first job, don't just show up every day. Anybody can do that. Absorb as much knowledge as you can, as questions and learn how you can be part of the solution to the company's challenges. 
  I'd always thought of myself as a "What do you need?" guy. Willing to take on any task that had to be done. Even better, especially these days, are employees who learn to predict what the employer will need before he or she even knows it.
   As you learn more about the job, develop a vision of where you see things going, and collaboratively share that with co-workers and managers. Not all of your ideas may be implemented, so be flexible and don't take that personally. Learn from the answers you get. Again, it's making you more valuable as an employee.
   Don't forget to keep track of that value, as well. Your future employers are going to want to know what you ACCOMPLISHED at your previous job, not just what you DID. Develop the mindset of being able to answer the question "How is the company better because of me?" Don't fall into the trap of coming in every day, doing your assigned tasks and collecting your paycheck. Regularly evaluate what you are actually accomplishing on the job, and if that inventory is found wanting, figure out ways to improve it.      Volunteer to take the lead on a project, for example, and keep track of your contributions. You'll need that later when writing resumes and cover letters for any future employers.
Always be thinking in terms of "Someday, somebody is going to ask me what I accomplished here and how I made this a better company." You'll be glad you did when you are competing against a bunch of achievers for a position somewhere else one day. Your goal should be to be the go-to employee for the job you do. Think of your boss telling others, "There's nobody I'd rather have doing this."
 If all this is revelation to just me, that's fine, but have a read. It might be a good refresher or might spark some inspiration. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Head Up

This blog is taking a somewhat new direction, one that is onward and upward with a particular emphasis on the positive and, as the name suggests, keeping a head up and eyes forward. These are not new ideas, but hopefully can be a reminder to focus on the good and the positive in this world, with some thoughts that have occurred to me. It's easy nowadays for despair, disappointment, envy and frustration and regret to drag a head down, but replacing those with hope, fulfillment, gratitude and focus will prop that head right and keep your eyes forward where they belong. Forward is where the opportunities are. Look back just long enough to see how something might have been done better, and apply the lessons learned to the most important path: the one in front of you. Keeping a head up and eyes forward also lets you see obstacles before you are right on top of them. Not that it's anything new, but you can't change circumstances. What you can change is your thinking, specifically your attitude about the circumstances and how you deal with them, and trying to adjust better and live smarter. The focus needs to be on opportunities, whether it's opportunities to work, make the world a better place, give joy to someone else, even if briefly, or help someone else. Always be on the lookout for needs in this world to fill. By staying focused on the positive, and by the way, keeping yourself and your skills relevant, you don't have time to be downcast, disappointed, frustrated, which leads to anger, or envious of others.

Trust God for He is with us

"If God Be For Us, Who Is Against Us?" Romans 8:31 Fear can shape our lives as much as anything. It is a fog that clouds our way, blinding us to what lies ahead. It is a shackle paralyzing us before it turns us in a direction we wish we hadn't taken. Fear gives nothing and takes everything. Its grip can seem overwhelming to bear. Fear will tighten the loose grip of caution to the point where you are stuck on the curb forever after you've looked both ways before crossing the street, as author Neale Donald Walsch would say. Caution can guide, fear will crush your dreams and leave you looking back at a life littered with "If only I hads." Trust in God. He will provide what he knows you need in his time. It is easy to get impatient with God's timing, but our human timing is nowhere close to His, and his plan for our lives is perfect. We need to trust in it, though it can be very hard. Pray each day for God's grace and protection and He will give it to you through our risen Lord Jesus Christ. He is always indeed for us.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thoughts on The Wizard of Oz

As I was walking back to my apartment today, thinking about my step-by-step journey back to physical fitness (I won't bother with the numbers from my physical, but lets just leave it at they are not nearly where I want them to be) when I began thinking about the Wizard of Oz story. This may take more twists and turns than the Yellow Brick Road, so bear with me. We are all on a Yellow Brick Road of self-discovery in life. We all have our own needs and wants, or at least those we perceive. Along the way, we meet people with their own needs and wants, just like Dorothy met the Scarecrow, before both of them met the Tin Man before all three of THEM met the Cowardly Lion. How similar is that to life? A winding road we follow on our journey, meeting people along the way and helping them achieve their goals as they help us achieve ours, in the meantime, all of us discovering things about ourselves by helping others discover things about themselves, or helping each other realize that maybe what we wanted we had all along and didn't even know it. Look at the Emerald City and especially the All-Powerful Oz himself. The reality was that our dream destination was no more than a product of what we had heard,the wishful thinking others had passed down to them, enhanced by our own imagination. We are disappointed, as first glance, that the reality does not meet our expectations, but eventually are satisfied with what we have, because indeed we have discovered we have it...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Faith is not a commodity

A mandate for health insurance companies to provide contraceptives to employees of religious organizations is entirely uncalled for, and yet more unnecessary government interference in faith issues. By paying premiums to an insurance company that offers contraceptive services, those organizations are implicitly endorsing those services, and, in the process, betraying their faith.
And since when is contraception preventive care? What does it prevent?? A woman from taking responsibility for a choice she has made?
The compromise provides the opportunity for a woman to receive an elective product for free. Who is going to pay for these "free" products? Not the woman, apparently, and certainly not the insurance company. That is just bad business. That leaves the American taxpayers, some of whom have moral objections of their own to having their money pay for such services.
An administration official was quoted in the Washington Post of saying of the U.S. Councils of Bishops "“We never anticipated that this announcement would win the endorsement of an organization that opposed health reform from the very beginning. But we believe it’s the right way to fully address concerns about religious liberty and ensure women get the coverage they need.”
The president has stated that woman should not have to choose between contraception and paying the rent. Why? Paying the rent is a necessary responsibility contraception is an artificial way of not having to be responsible for the consequences of an action.
At any rate, it's none of the government's business, and it's definitely not an issue to pick a fight over just because it is a presidential election year.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

One of a kinds

I want to wish everybody a happy new year, even though the first week of it has been filled with some sad news for me. I lost two friends New Year's Day, one whom I'd known about a year throught the Knights of Columbus at my church and the other that I had known of since 1994 and worked with for three years at the beginning of this decade (century..whatever). These two men, though about the same age, couldn't have had more different lifestyles and couldn't have left us in more different ways, but both were unique, and I will miss them both greatly.
Brother Bob Eyles was one of the first people to call me when i joined the Knights of Columbus in the fall of 2005, and was the definition of classy kindly gentleman. He was my partner on the Knights' Jordan team assisting at baptisms at the church and was a joy to know. I will never forget the kindly way he would call me to remind me about Knights meetings. The world has lost one of its good ones, and I will surely miss him, though i didn't have the privilege of knowing him nearly as long as I would have liked.
Michael Schrader was an eccentric character, but he was also without a doubt the best practitioner of the English language I have ever met. Anybody who wanted to know just how little they (sorry Michael, he or she..) knew about the English language could simply give him a page he or she had proofread and watch it come back in a sea of red ink with corrections he had made. I know because I tried that little experiment once and was duly humbled at the results.
Michael had retired to Florida a couple years ago from his job at the trade magazine in New York, but was murdered in his Florida condo New Year's Day, apparently by a young man he had taken in who kept asking him for money. Unfortunately the scenario was a familiar one to all of us who worked with Michael and one that was repeated despite our warnings to be careful.
Working with him was a privilege and a lesson in respecting the English language and all its nuances. I can certainly say I never have met anyone like him when it came to a passion for proper usage and grammer. The world has lost a great grammarian, but I'm sure there will be fewer split infinitives among us who were lucky enough to work with him.
Michael could construct a sentence better than anyone I know, but unwittingly strung a couple together one day that became my favorite memory of him: A beautiful young woman at our office had been laid off and came by to say goodbye to all of us. In the process of consoling her, Michael said "You're an attractive young woman. You'd do well at Penthouse magazine." At the woman's "excuse me??" response, Michael quickly hastened to add "in the editorial editorial"
God Bless you, Michael and Bob, and Happy New Year, everybody.