Twelve days of Christmas
We’re all familiar with the Christmas song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” To most it’s a delightful rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was written.
It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.
When are the Twelve Days of Christmas?
What we do know is that the twelve days of Christmas in the song are the twelve days between the birth of Christ (Christmas, December 25) and the coming of the Magi (Epiphany, January 6). Although the specific origins of the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” are not known, it possibly began as a Twelfth Night “memory-and-forfeits” game in which the leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as a offering up a kiss or a sweet. This is how the song was presented in its earliest known printed version, in the 1780 children’s book Mirth Without Mischief. (The song is apparently much older than this printed version, but we do not currently know how much older.) Textual evidence indicates that the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was not English in origin, but French. Three French versions of the song are known, and items mentioned in the song itself (the partridge, for example, which was not introduced to England from France until the late 1770s) are indicative of a French origin.
It is possible that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has been confused with (or is a transformation of) a song called “A New Dial” (also known as “In Those Twelve Days”), which dates to at least 1625 and assigns religious meanings to each of the twelve days of Christmas (but not for the purposes of teaching a catechism). In a manner somewhat similar to the memory-and-forfeits performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the song “A New Dial” was recited in a question-and-answer format:
|What are they that are but one?
We have one God alone
In heaven above sits on His throne. What are they which are but two?
Two testaments, the old and new,
We do acknowledge to be true.
What are they which are but three?
What are they which are but four
What are they which are but five?
What are they which are but six?
|What are they which are but seven?
Seven liberal arts hath God sent down
With divine skill man’s soul to crown. What are they which are but eight?
Eight Beatitudes are there given
Use them right and go to heaven.
What are they which are but nine?
What are they which are but ten?
What are they which are but eleven?
What are they which are but twelve?
The Twelve Days of Christmas – Today . . .
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is what most people take it to be: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with imagery of gifts and dancing and music. Some misinterpretations have crept into the English version over the years, though. For example, the fourth day’s gift is four “colly birds” (or “collie birds”), not four “calling birds.” (The word “colly” literally means “black as coal,” and thus “colly birds” would be blackbirds.) The “five golden rings” refers not to five pieces of jewelry, but to five ring-necked birds (such as pheasants). When these errors are corrected, the pattern of the first seven gifts’ all being types of birds is re-established.
Some even like to say the songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The “true love” mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The “me” who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so…”
The other symbols mean the following:
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed
The Reason for the Season
Whatever meaning you decide to connect to “The Twelve of Christmas,” the song has made a permanent mark on our hearts and has become a part of celebrating Christmas. Traditions have a purpose and I know that taking time to look into the meaning behind this song, has definitely given me a new perspective and appreciation. The reason for the season can get lost on even the best of us. It’s nice to know that now I can hear this song and have one more reminder for the real Reason for the Season. God Bless and Merry Christmas!!
Why We Resist What is Good for Us
To resist is defined as to withstand the action of or effect of. For this blog, we will be focusing on the resistance to change. Seeing how Fall has arrived, I thought the timing to discuss resistance to change for the better was pretty spot-on. Being the independent person that I am, change is something that I’ve looked forward to most of my life. (Fall is my favorite season.) While I thrive on daily rituals, I get bored easily when life becomes routine. So, you might think that by me saying this about myself, that I would not likely resist change. I would have agreed with you a few months ago, but my most recent experiences have shown me otherwise, not only about myself but in others as well.
So, let’s look at some reasons why we might resist change that is good for us. It is fairly widely known that as human beings we are motivated by two things – pain and/or pleasure. Some people are highly motivated by the pleasure you perceive you will receive upon doing something while others don’t move until the pain is no longer tolerable. Some studies show that there are more people motivate by pain than pleasure. When I heard that, I thought that just seemed so odd. Who wouldn’t run towards something pleasurable, happy and rewarding? On the surface, we probably all look at it through that lens. But, lets really dig into this. Here are some reasons, we resist what is good for us . . .
We’re afraid of losing our identities.
We identify with pain. We become our struggle. We bond over what we hate. (gossiping, Facebook bickering over politics, race, gender, etc.) It’s the trifecta for unhappiness, and the more we sustain it, the harder it becomes to work our way out of. I call it the “funnel effect.” When you start out with an “innocent” comment and then someone else chimes in and so on and so on, then before you know it, the weight of all that negativity has pulled you so far down that to get back to where you were (at the top of the funnel) seems too impossible. This is because we grow to identify with our problems. Who are we if we don’t have a battle to fight? It makes “being happy” seem boring, and undesirable. So we keep ourselves in a state of “wanting” and never “having.”
We’ve trained ourselves to feel happy with the “wanting” not the “getting.”
We get stuck in these patterns in which we find our happiness in dreaming up the next big thing, in working toward it, in lusting after it, in feeling like “getting it” is this huge accomplishment. The excitement of the possibilities are very alluring. Then after the high has passed, it’s not interesting to us anymore. Or as we get further down the road of achieving what we want, we meet a little resistance and we run back to our comfort zone. We’d rather stay in the space of what we “know” than venture further into the “unknown.” Once again, we fall into a “funnel effect” and it seems too difficult to get to where we want to go.
Why do we avoid that which we know is good for us? Why do we automatically resist, push back even though we know, deep down, that it’s the right thing to do?
This was my most recent experience that brought this topic to the surface for me personally. Back in August, as some of you know, I had an accident with my hand. I lost 90+% function of my right hand (and yes, I’m right handed). So, prior to this accident, I’d say for the past several months, I was feeling unsure of what was next. Basically in a state of indecision. I’m sure some of that thought process had to do with me coming up on the half century mark for my existence on this planet, but there was more than just my birthday. I didn’t feel like myself. It was as if I was almost living in someone else’s body.
So, when the accident happened on August 1st, it brought EVERYTHING to the surface. The physical pain of my hand, the emotional pain of not being able to do things as I normally did and not sure if I would ever be able to be at 100% again. But even deeper than that, it was the pain of where I was. I wasn’t happy with how I felt physically about myself. (FYI: this has ZERO to do with “appearances”) God gave me some pretty good DNA that I inherited from my family, not bragging and not taking credit, but I’ve always been athletic. Well, to label me athletic prior to my accident with my hand, would have been a lie.
So, two weeks after my accident, I found a “lily pad” (that’s what I call God’s grace). I came across Rita Catolino on social media. She was offering a 10-Day cleansing program. I followed her for several days, almost stalked her or another more politically correct description would be, researched her and was so impressed with her on so many levels. Her vulnerability, her Light, her bold determination to pursue excellence and her “invitation.” That’s what church people call it – those of you that have lived this church life know what I’m talking about . . . at the end of the service, the pastor stands on the congregation floor (comes down from the podium) and reaches out to the people and offers them an invitation to take Jesus into their hearts. Well, Rita wasn’t trying to convert people to Jesus, but she was inviting people to convert their old habits, shed some bad choices of the past and start fresh. And, thank you Jesus, I accepted!! (for any religious folk out there – please don’t write me and comment about me comparing Rita to Jesus – you have more important things to worry about, I promise!)
As a population, we know how to eat well and look after our bodies. It’s not rocket science, it’s just common sense. Yet the obesity rate continues to rise and we spend a fortune each year on quick fixes, diet books and supplements only to end up back where we started (or even worse). Or if an incredible opportunity comes our way, that we know is perfect and completely in line with everything we have ever dreamed of . . . we somehow find a way to self-combust, over-think it and run in the opposite direction. Why is that?
The answer – fear. That self-sabotage. It’s all coming from a place of fear.
The irony is that the fear is a good sign. That feeling that looks and feels like fear is simply your ego resisting what is not routine for you and it means you’re on the right track. The resistance is an indicator that a whole new level of awesome is about to be achieved. But you have to work for it. You have to move through the resistance. It’s not easy.
What gets us to open up, take that need to resist and turn the page to getting what we want?
I’ll use my experience as a pathway to a possible answer for you. I was motivated by the pain. You could say that I had hit a rock bottom for what I would no longer tolerate. Those doctors and researchers that are much smarter than me call it our instinctive side vs. our conscious side. Prior to my accident, I was existing in the world of my instinctive side. After my hand blew up like a blow fish and I couldn’t use it even to open a can of dog food to feed my pups, that was when my conscious side overruled my instincts. Here’s the “science” in layman’s terms . . .
The instinctive side assigns value using past experience and past evidence. It distills past experience and builds evidence to value a certain behavior. In contrast to the conscious side’s logic-based approach, if our past experience of exercise has shown that it’s difficult and painful and stressful, then we’re going to avoid doing it. We expect it to continue being difficult and painful and stressful, so we are instinctively against doing it since that’s what we expect.
Bottom line, it’s tough being us. Seriously! We have this constant chatter with our ego going on and that ego is solely based on self serving habitually learned behavior and responses. No wonder it’s so hard to get out of bed when you’ve been down and sad for more than 3 weeks in a row – HELLO – you just formed a habit, did you not??
BUT – there’s ALWAYS hope!! One of my favorite bible versus is when Abraham believed “in hope against all hope.” We are created to grow and evolve. Just like nature, when we become stagnant, we die – spiritually then eventually physically. So, I encourage you – whether you are dealing with deep sadness, physical pain, an issue with weight (too little or too much), or the many other emotions and issues that we humans are allowed to explore – you know what is good for you – pursue it as much, and as often, and as hard as you can. Don’t fall prey to your instincts and ego. Step boldly into your life!! For pushing through that momentary “feeling” of pain – you will be highly rewarded!! Be well and Live Excellence! xoxo
The word responsibility is a pretty strong word. Some people stand tall when they think of that word, while others shrink.
I started 2016 out with some very clear intentions (I don’t do resolutions), with a game plan and actions to implement. It’s amazingly already the end of August and I’m excited to say that the seeds I planted in the beginning of the year have taken root and have begun to blossom.
This month alone has transpired at a level that I’m still trying to digest it all. Hence the title of this blog. I began the year reading Grant Cardone’s book, The 10X Rule. (HIGHLY recommend it!) Assume Control of Everything is the title of chapter 6 in the book.
This chapter has been the theme for me this Summer. Here’s an excerpt from the book to help explain his message:
Success is not something that happens to you; it’s something that happens because of you and because of the actions you take. People who refuse to take responsibility generally don’t do well in the game of success. Successful people accept very high levels of accountability for creating and having success for themselves – and even for failing to do so. Successful people hate the blame game and know that it is better to make something happen – good or bad – than to have it happen to you.
To get where you want to go in life, you must adopt the view that whatever is going on in your world – good, bad, or nothing – is something caused by you. I assume control over everything that happens to me, even for those things that I appear to have no control over.
Until a person is done being a victim, he or she is unable to create solutions and success.
Whether it is the flu, stomachache, a car wreck, a criminal stealing my money, my computer crashing, or even the electricity going out, I assume control and responsibility. It was only until I truly started to believe that nothing happens to me; it happens because of me, that I was able to start operating at 10x levels. Someone once said, “no matter where I go, there I am.” This little saying suggested to me that I am both the problem and the solution.
Success isn’t just a “journey”, as countless people and books suggest it is; rather, it’s a state – constant or otherwise – over which you have control and responsibility. You either create success or you don’t – and it isn’t for whiners, crybabies, and victims.
I loathe the word victim on so many levels, but in all honesty, I have not taken control or responsibility for some things in my life. At the age of 3, I was diagnosed with amblyopia – Lazy eye is reduced vision in one eye caused by abnormal visual development early in life. Clearly at the age of 3, you don’t have the intelligence capabilities to be responsible or control things that happen to you. BUT – that discovery and the domino effect of what transpired from that moment forward created a story-line for the first many stages of my life.
Not until I moved to California 16+ years ago, did I understand at my core what it looks like to assume control and responsibility for everything in my life. Now, it did not happen over night and I continue to learn how to get better with this. But, I am beyond grateful for the gift of now fully understanding and owning what it means to assume responsibility for everything. For example, while I did feel immense emotional pain from the treatment I received by many, for many years of my life because I had a lazy eye and had to wear glasses, I NOW have an equally immense compassion for children, an understanding of how I allowed people to treat me that way AND how grateful I am for those that were kind to me. That “story” has now become a catalyst for me being present and responsible.
Wherever you are in life, you have room to grow. It is our souls desire to become more, to add more, to give more, to know more, to love more. If you choose to think someone – ANYONE – owes you anything in life, then you ARE a victim. You have handed over the power God has given you to someone else. You have refused to take responsibility for where you are and how you managed to get yourself there. It’s that simple. They are very tough words to swallow – I DO know that.
But, the sooner you make this a life mantra – I assume control and responsibility for everything – the sooner life will begin to happen FOR you! When you are in control and responsible, no matter the bumps in life, you have the solution within you – BELIEVE in YOU!!
Set goals that match your potential, not your ability.
Life Gloriously Unfolds
Sometimes life doesn’t show up like you think it “should.” I get it – even for me, striving to Live Excellence daily, I have my moments too. Happened yesterday. So, I go back to what brings me “home” and that is the beauty that surrounds me.
Within moments of making the choice to step outside and go for a walk, my world was transformed. I had no expectations. I was simply taking one step and the rest unfolded.
Life is like surfing the waves, sometimes you enjoy the ride, other times the wave just fizzles out. You can even get pummeled and not even sure if you’re going to get back to the surface. But, then there are those ones that you ride . . . you ride and you ride and you ride. THOSE are the ones you work for. Just like life – you remember THOSE rides. The others simply fade into a distant memory.
No matter what, don’t give up!! Just take one step – a simple nudge, a breath – one small movement and your world will change.
BELIEVE . . . your life IS a Glorious Unfolding!!
Song by Steven Curtis Chapman – The Glorious Unfolding
Traveling on my own, with my two pups – Thomas and Stella, is definitely a venture that required I teeter into the unknown. These are the lessons I learned from this amazing trip. Plus, I’ve included a video journal of our adventures.
First, I must set the record straight – NO, I’m not crazy. I’ve always had a fierce streak of independence from the day I was born and this trip was no exception. Yes, my mother was worried sick, but with me almost creeping into the half century mark, she wasn’t surprised to hear I was doing this. She’ll never get used to it, but she knows her words of concern fall on deaf ears at this point. If you don’t know by now, I do have two of the most feared breed of dogs as my companions – so that does help (Thomas: German Shepherd, Stella: Pit Bull mix). Not that they would do anything, but I’m pretty certain that if I were in danger, they’d figure out what to do.
I have to confess, it’s been quite a while since I’ve headed off into the unknown for a real vacation. Most of my recent trips over the past few years have been for family obligations in Kentucky or for work. All of which are also fun times, but this was the first time in a long time that I had ZERO desire to check my email or even think about “checking in.” For me, that’s a big deal and much needed. I started out calling it my Independence Trip, mostly because I was traveling around the 4th of July, but it turned out to be one of the first lessons I learned on this venture . . .
Teeter Into the Unknown Lessons Learned . . .
- Celebrate Your Independence – Independence is like air to me. Without it, the me that God intended me to be, suffocates. While I do live in what I consider to be much like ‘heaven on Earth’ by living in Malibu, I am still guilty of getting into a routine. I’m conscious about being present for each day, but if you don’t change your environment, you’re less likely to grow. If you don’t push your boundaries, you won’t know what you’re capable of. Independence, while it is liberating, has a price. It can be isolating. While some celebrate in awe of your deeds, others are simply puzzled. Regardless of where you fall on the scale, this trip taught me that I MUST feed my independence.
- Leave Your Comfort Zone – I’ve blogged about this before (link here) but this trip put any words I’ve ever thought about or spoken on this subject, into a new reality for me. In order to teeter into the unknown and get a glimpse of that “gorgeous feeling,” you’ve got to go ALL IN! No exceptions. Renting a 25 foot RV, camping on my own most nights and winding up and down altitudes from 5000′ to almost 8000′, winds gusting, people flying by you clocking 80 miles per hour (speed limit in Utah), most assuredly will take you WAY outside your comfort zone. I confess, my first few nights, I was not liking my decision to do this ‘independence trip’ very much at all. But I told myself, just trust and keep going. I’m SO glad I did!!
- Family is Forever – It was 32 years ago, that my parents took my sister (16 at the time) and myself (17 at the time), on a road trip from Mayfield, KY to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hawaii and back. We stopped to see family and some friends along the way. We drove a Chrysler New Yorker with a pop up camper – YES, I said, pop up camper. (click the links for some amusement) Even though prior to this family trip, we’d gone on many vacations, this one was a doozy. A full month on the road – all together – for a full month!! Did I say, we were together in a car for 30 days?!?! While we drove each other almost crazy, that time carries for me, some of the best memories. I saw Carl Lewis win two gold medals and break the world record at the 1984 Summer Olympics – he came into the audience and kissed his mother who was sitting two rows IN FRONT OF US!! For me, who was a runner then, THAT was a life changing moment. That trip, 32 years ago, ignited my need for adventure and so much more. In addition to that – 38 years ago, I set off in a motor home with 4 cousins after a family reunion and on this trip to Colorado, we were reunited. I haven’t seen them since then and while much time has passed – for me, it felt like our heartbeats were completely in sync. We instinctually knew one another. There was a love that did not require words – a connection that was unearned. It was sweet and peaceful. And I am so grateful for my time with them.
I could go on, because I am my father’s daughter, but these three lessons sum up the largest portion of my trip. Of course, it does leave out some of the other exciting things that happened (read on at your own peril) – DEF Fluid check light came on, (exactly what I thought – what the F is DEF fluid??, well – NOW I know!! It’s Diesel Exhaust Fluid ) I added the DEF fluid to the gas tank (NOT supposed to do that), the RV then had to be towed until the next morning while I awaited a mobile RV mechanic. All the while praying they could fix it and I wouldn’t have to be towed another hour and a half in the wrong direction of me trying to get home – ALL of this was in the middle of the Moab desert – YES, desert – Green River to be exact. Feel free to google that really ‘large’ town and laugh along with me. But, in my trusting that I am taken care of AND taking responsibility for what happens to me – it DID get fixed in short time and I was off again. The next really fun thing was as I’m traveling along in the desert, my side door – the one that is like 7 feet tall, not the passenger or driver door, FLIES open and the automatic steps POP out – all while I’m driving 70 miles an hour and trying to hold on to Stella so she won’t just think it’s fun to jump out or better yet, get sucked out of the door!! YES, I was able to safely pull over and take care of everything. But again, that was my fault, because in my haste to get the heck back on the road, I did forget to secure the door. All lessons: taking 100% responsibility and celebrating my ability to conquer every single solitary mile of this trip!!
Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the books on audio that also expanded my knowledge and my spirit during this adventure. These are the three I downloaded in preparation for my trip and was able to get through all of them.
- Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg
- Presence by Amy Cuddy
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – this one I’ve read before, but I wanted to revisit it and I’m so glad I did because it was the last one I listened to on my journey and considering my adventures, it definitely spoke louder to me than it had previously.
So, would I do this again – 100% YES!! That teetering into the unknown feeling is most definitely gorgeous and I highly encourage anyone and everyone to teeter into the unknown – you’ll be celebrating the magnificence that God put within you!! My eyes are full with God’s beauty!!
Safe Travels and Teeter ON!!
To be human is . . . What a crazy month this has been! Do you feel the same? So much has happened – from the great Muhammad Ali’s passing, to the Orlando shootings, to the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. Some major shifts for us as humans has taken place and it’s what struck me deeply in preparing for today’s blog. I was doing some research for inspiration so my blog wouldn’t focus or weigh too heavily on the sadness and darkness of some of this months events. Interestingly enough, I found this documentary on Netflix called THE (DIS)HONESTY PROJECT: The Truth About Lies.
Dan Ariely is the catalyst behind the project and it was extremely interesting from a human study perspective. You might be wondering where in the world is she going with this – well, I thought the same thing, but I’m always open to see where my heart leads me. To be honest, I thought I would just have the documentary on in the background and pick up a few pointers here and there while I was crafting my blog. HA – not only was the documentary interesting, Dan was very funny and enjoyable to watch. (I highly recommend it whenever you’re in the “grow your brain” mode)
White Lie – Orange Jumpsuit
So, to get to the correlation – besides the traumatic events mentioned previously, I found out a few weeks ago that a high school friend and someone I dated for a blink of a moment, landed himself in jail for robbing two banks. He held a Senior VP position at a respectable company, has great family around him, etc., etc. It made me reflect on myself. I have a saying – desperate people do desperate things. While on the surface this robbing banks thing, may seem like a money issue – and it may be, I have no idea what his finances are – but being a Senior VP wouldn’t lend itself to being financially strapped. So, what then? What was it, that triggered this behavior?
The reason I have this saying is because I understand it first-hand. The reason I was intrigued by The (Dis)Honesty Project documentary is because I’ve lied. And what I realized in watching the documentary is – that we ALL lie. Anytime, you negotiate beyond a limitation, i.e. the speed limit, no trespassing signs, your parent telling you not to do something, fudging info on a resume, etc. – those are all lies. Some human came up with the saying “white lie” but it’s laughable. Who decided that if you add the word ‘white’ in front of the word ‘lie’, that it becomes acceptable?? It’s a lie, no matter how you color it.
I can relate to my friend who was shown on TV in an orange jumpsuit. I’ve been in an orange jumpsuit myself. YEP! Here’s the lie that created my orange jumpsuit moment:
I was in Hilton Head, SC and was out one night and was pulled over for drunk driving or what they thought was drunk driving – I had only had one drink (that’s the truth) – BUT, I was being silly with my friends in the car and my driving was erratic. So, I got pulled over. Passed the DUI test with flying colors. BUT, my tags were expired AND they were from Georgia, not South Carolina. I had been in Hilton Head long enough that it was overdue to change the tags. So, my lies were starting to accumulate: I had violated the law in not switching to SC tags from GA and my tags were expired. The police officer gave me a ticket, which I deserved. Seems simple enough, right – just take care of the ticket.
Well, my roommate at the time, had become friends with a fairly well-to-do attorney in Hilton Head and she told him about what happened and he said he would take care of the ticket. Having come from a small town, that seemed easy enough. HA – well, he forgot about it, and I was irresponsible in even considering allowing him to do it. So, as it happens when one lie leads to another – I was speeding on a road that everyone in Hilton Head knows you get a ticket on if you speed and I got pulled over – again.
Next thing I know, I’m in the back seat of a police car WITH handcuffs!!! (By the way, those things HURT when you have to sit with them behind your back) They are telling me they are taking me to Beaufort County JAIL!! Well, of course, I’m crapping my pants (no not literally, but almost) and I have to leave my car on the side of the road. Nuts, right?!?! So, I call my fiance at the time and he jumps into “fix it” mode as good men do. The reason they arrested me was because my Georgia drivers license was now suspended because I had failed to pay the ticket for the expired tags.
It was like 1 or 2am and I’m all tucked away in my jail cell, in my orange jumpsuit and an officer comes and tells me that I could leave. My fiance and roommate had come to get me. I actually don’t remember ALL of what happened because it was such a nightmare for me. I ended up driving to Atlanta so I could get my license taken care of and then back to South Carolina to take care of getting everything in it’s proper order.
The story is a bit funny now, but when you tell yourself – oh, I’m just going 6 miles over the speed limit – you don’t think, you’re going to end up in an orange jumpsuit. The two just don’t seem on the same page. But, I chose to not be honest in many of my decisions about my life at that time and it caught up with me.
It Comes Down to Honor
In watching the documentary on human behavior and thinking about how much has come to pass over this past month, what resonated with me most is that we are all human. Everyone of us lies about something. For me, what I’m learning is that the more I love, accept and appreciate myself, the less I have reason to be dishonest about anything.
That thought ties into the documentary’s conclusion – when we are reminded of our honor, we make the right choices. And if you are thinking that this has anything to do with religion, you’d be wrong. Regardless of your belief system or lack thereof, when we are reminded of our honor, we did the honorable thing every time. For me and my beliefs, it’s even more scientific proof that we are ALL children of God. The honor that is in all of us, is innate in us and given to us by God. He gave us free will and we all need to be reminded sometimes . . .
For my friend who found himself in jail and myself, it’s good to be reminded of our honor. We are all HUMAN.
Well, we are about to hit the half-way mark for 2016 and I’m about to embark on something that is a bit scary and seems like a monstrous undertaking, but neither of those two things have stopped me in the past and they aren’t at this point either. The Road to Excellence is such a fitting title for providing a launching pad for so much of my life and is the title of my podcast I will be starting in June.
We are all on this journey called life and we all have greatness within us that only we can give. I’ll be honest, I have some people that have come into my life that have not understood why I push so hard, why I expect so much, why I am always on and ready – I get it, it can be annoying – hello, I’m the one living it 24/7. BUT – the road to excellence REQUIRES that we ALL are that way. I will get to the finish line of this life knowing that I gave all I could each and every day.
Every goal you set, be prepared to increase that. Every benchmark you reach, create another one that is bigger. This life is a gift and it’s not meant to be left to spoil. Live it – to it’s absolute fullest.
Now, what happens when you are sick or just not “feeling it,” I’ve been there too – you STILL push. If you’re breathing, you’ve got something to not only be grateful for, but work to be done. Until you stop breathing, God has work for you – it’s that plain and simple.
So, in my upcoming podcast, The Road to Excellence, we will be going on this journey together. Inspiring each other by celebrating other peoples achievements, learning through other peoples struggles and laughing as much and whenever possible. I hope you’ll join me and participate on The Road to Excellence – the more the merrier, as they say. There will be no judgement, no right or wrong, no good or bad – just the road: your steps and your excellenceDNA™. This is about YOU and how we can help each other continue to strive for our absolute best – our outstanding, our extremely good – that excellence which God put only in us to perform.
The Road to Excellence is about showing the world how amazing you are!!
Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors
Open new doors – it just sounds exciting, right?!?! Every week I post a Manifest Monday inspirational quote and “Old ways won’t open new doors,” was kind of a theme for me this month, so I thought it was worth giving more thought to than a simple post.
In my post I went on to say, “Do something different this week!! Dream bigger – Aim higher. Make no excuses – if you want more, you gotta do more!! Let’s do this!!” I’ve spoken before about comfort zones and knowing that when you are in a comfort zone, you are not growing. Well, old ways can be comfortable, that’s for sure. And when you think ‘open new doors’, it doesn’t always excite some people. When you don’t know what is around the corner, it can be scary for some people.
Here’s the best advise I can give you – a childlike heart loves to explore the unknown. A childlike heart seeks out new adventures and we know that God wants us to have a childlike heart . . .
Matthew 18:3 and Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
So, embrace the unknown with confidence, knowing that you’ve got this. No matter what is on the other side, you can conquer bigger and better things. We are all here to become better with each hour and day we are given. Living excellence is about taking life with the attitude that you look everyday to open new doors.
Doors can come in all shapes and sizes, so stay open. As Deepak Chopra says when you ask him what time it is, “NOW!” All we have is this moment, the past does not matter, the future is not guaranteed, so be in the present moment. Look for the open doors and whether you ease the door open or go all ninja-style and kick it down, doesn’t matter to me, just open that door!!
With President’s Day upon us and the “lovely” Presidential debates we are unfortunate to watch these days, I felt compelled to write about these two words. Together they represent so much to me. What does it mean to be Presidential? You look up the word and you actually don’t get much – def: presidency, or president. So, that made me really start to think about what it means to be President.president
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get political here. It’s not who I am. We are called the UNITED States of America for a reason. We are supposed to be united and our politics, at least these days, do nothing but divide us. That is the furthest from being excellent that any one of us can be. So, YES, I’ll be having nothing to do with being political here. (Sigh of relief)
I’m going to use the Presidential Seal as a backdrop here. The Presidential Seal is the official symbol of the office of the President of the United States. It includes the President’s coat of arms, an eagle on the great seal, a ring of stars and the words, Seal of the President of the United States. For me, symbolism is a fantastic way of communicating a message. So, let’s really take in the full meaning of the Presidential Seal . . .
The eagle’s right (or dexter) talon clutches an olive branch with 13 olives and 13 leaves to represent peace. The left (or sinister) talon clutches arrows which represent the need sometimes to go to war to protect the nation.
The eagle holds a ribbon bearing the words “E Pluribus Unum,” the motto of the U.S., which means “out of many, one.” The number 13 is used to represent the 13 original colonies.
A shield in front of the eagle has 13 red and white stripes, again representing the colonies, with a blue bar above, representing both the unity of colonies into one nation and Congress, which makes laws for all.
Above the eagle is a “glory Or” or halo of gold. In it are 13 white clouds, 13 white stars and many tiny stars. The 50 stars on a field of deep blue circle the eagle and represent the 50 states. The words, “Seal of the President of the United States” surround the seal on a tan field.
The origins of the seal are vague, but it is believed to have originated with the seal used by the President of the Continental Congress, a small oval with a constellation of 13 stars surrounded by clouds. It was used to seal envelopes containing correspondence sent to the Continental Congress. There is no documented history of the changes made to the seal over time, although a seal used by Andrew Jackson appears to have been similar: a small, round, red wax seal with a circle of clouds. The rest of the design is lost.
There are many interesting facts about the seal, which you can find here. But, one that I thought was interesting was this – In 1945, President Harry Truman began making important changes throughout the U.S. government, including changes to the Presidential Seal.
He ordered that the eagle be changed to face the olive branch, rather than the arrows. At the time, Truman was creating the Defense Department to replace the former War Department and Navy Department, and he wanted the seal to reflect an emphasis on the pursuit of peace.
So, what does all this mean? What does this have to do with Presidential Excellence and why should you care? The seal, the office of the President, being the President of the United State of America stands for something. Something that has tradition, honor, legacy, pride responsibility, courage, bravery and excellence all wrapped up into it.
As you may know, I grew up in a house built in 1894, The Grand Home, so I have a deep love and appreciation for history and how our ancestors pass on to us through symbols and things, a message; a way to appreciate, yet go beyond what they’ve done and created. Even the Resolute Desk, used by almost every President, has a message for each of us.
This desk was made from the timbers of the H.M.S. Resolute, a British ship abandoned by its crew in 1854 after it became stuck in the Arctic ice. An American ship found it the next year and brought it to Connecticut.
Congress spent $40,000 to rescue, repair, and completely refit the ship which was then given to the Queen of England as a token of friendship and goodwill.
After the H.M.S. Resolute was decommissioned, Queen Victoria had a desk made from its timbers. She presented the richly carved “Resolute desk” to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.
That story is Presidential Excellence in action, coming to fruition in another art form. Think about if this were in today’s time – would the same act of integrity, by returning the ship repaired and refitted, take place? Would another country respect us to the extent of returning our act of integrity, with the honorable gesture of hand carving a desk in return?
I’m not so sure on both parts. Sad to say, which brings me back to what does it mean to be President? What is Presidential Excellence to you?
I know we each have our own definition or degrees of definition for this and THAT is just one of the many reasons why we are blessed enough to live in the United States of America. Bottom line for me, it MEANS something and our future, regardless of party options, is quite scary to me. So, if my little blog can get more people to focus on what it means to really be the President and what Presidential Excellence is, then I know, little by little, it will create a “ripple” in the water of change. I choose to continue to hope . . .