‘IF’: Possibly the Biggest Small Word There is!

The thing that scares most people, is one of my favorite things about life. We do not know what’s around the next corner. Our entire lives can change in an instant, whether it be a visiting a new place, making a decision, new career or project, or a new person coming into our lives. Sure, tragedy and loss are also possible. Most of us are not strangers to some type of loss. Hopefully, we have gained more than we have lost. Even if we have lost more than we have gained, if we are still alive then we have a chance and the hope to gain. That brings me to the word ‘IF’. The word ‘if’ signals the change if you will allow it. ‘If’ is only found in silence.

I had the amazing privilege and honor to visit a dear friend at a cloistered Trappist monastery, St. Joseph’s Abbey, this past weekend. Amidst the noise and busy-ness of life I have more than once imagined a life of complete silence-for a minute or so, of course! 🙂 After all, I enjoy people and conversation. As I walked the halls of the Abbey, I noticed a sound that was distinct and vaguely familiar, but I could not place it. After standing in the library surrounded by the knowledge of books on endless bookshelves softly lit by the gentle rays of sunlight that peacefully fell through the large wooden windows, I identified the sound. It was silence. The deep, unhindered, powerful sound of silence. It was beautiful. We live in world that runs from silence. Even if we do manage to get some silence, the noise in our head keeps us from really understanding its significance. I stood there in the quiet for a few moments and my new favorite word ‘IF’ came to me.

Silence is full of possibilities if we are open to it. Silence asks two questions: Who do you listen to? What do you really want? The first question reminds me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. Imagine for a second you could believe there is a very personal God out there who loves you and wants to tell you something. Wouldn’t anyone want to listen? The next question addresses the noise in our lives. Our culture constantly tells us to get ahead, acquire more, gain more power, more money, more pleasure and entertainment. If we could break free from those ideals for a moment and ask ourselves what we really want, deep down I think most of us would want more love, happiness and peace. Possessing money and power will not attain these objectives. Pleasure can be a cheap counterfeit for what we sincerely seek. The world has confused sex and pleasure with love. At times love contains sex, but sex never contains love. We as a culture stay on the hamster wheel with distractions and noise, so we do not have see the emptiness of our vain pursuits. What if we could see silence as the place for wonderful possibilities, instead of the void where we see our disappointments? This is the secret that monks have discovered. Silence is the place where we can recharge, prioritize, and see possibilities beyond our greatest dreams if we are open to it.

‘IF’: Possibly the Biggest Small Word There is!

The thing that scares most people, is one of my favorite things about life. We do not know what’s around the next corner. Our entire lives can change in an instant, whether it be a visiting a new place, making a decision, new career or project, or a new person coming into our lives. Sure, tragedy and loss are also possible. Most of us are not strangers to some type of loss. Hopefully, we have gained more than we have lost. Even if we have lost more than we have gained, if we are still alive then we have a chance and the hope to gain. That brings me to the word ‘IF’. The word ‘if’ signals the change if you will allow it. ‘If’ is only found in silence.

I had the amazing privilege and honor to visit a dear friend at a cloistered Trappist monastery, St Joseph’s Abbey, this past weekend. Amidst the noise and busy-ness of life I have more than once imagined a life of complete silence-for a minute or so, of course! 🙂 After all I enjoy people and conversation. As I walked the halls of the Abbey, I noticed a sound that was distinct and vaguely familiar, but I could not place it. After standing in the library surrounded by the knowledge of books on endless bookshelves softly lit by the gentle rays of sunlight that peacefully fell through the large wooden windows, I identified the sound. It was silence. The deep, unhindered, powerful sound of silence. It was beautiful. We live in world that runs from silence. Even if we do manage to get some silence, the noise in our head keeps us from really understanding its significance. I stood there in the quiet for a few moments and my new favorite word ‘IF’ came to me.

Silence is full of possibilities if we are open to it. Silence asks two questions: Who do you listen to? What do you really want? The first question reminds me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. Imagine for a second you could believe there is a very personal God out there who loves you and wants to tell you something. Wouldn’t anyone want to listen? The next question addresses the noise in our lives. Our culture constantly tells us to get ahead, acquire more, gain more power, more money, more pleasure and entertainment. If we could break free from those ideals for a moment and ask ourselves what we really want, deep down I think most of us would want more love, happiness and peace. Possessing money and power will not attain these objectives. Pleasure can be a cheap counterfeit for what we sincerely seek. The world has confused sex and pleasure with love. At times love contains sex, but sex never contains love. We as a culture stay on the hamster wheel with distractions and noise, so we do not have see the emptiness of our vain pursuits. What if we could see silence as the place for wonderful possibilities, instead of the void where we see our disappointments? This is the secret that monks have discovered. Silence is the place where we can recharge, prioritize, and see possibilities beyond our greatest dreams if we are open to it.

Stuck For Ideas: 4 Steps to a Sensational Summer

About now, most of us are feeling the pressures that come with Summer planning. Work, trips, sports camps, music camps and family vacations circling in your mind. Which ones to choose? Summer is a time when we are supposed to be able to slow down and relax a little with family and friends. Don’t let anxiety rob you of memories that last a life time. The key to a good Summer is having a strategy. Here are 4 steps to help you plan for a sensational Summer.
1.Don’t Plan Too Big. If you’re like me, then you will buy your first bike and immediately begin dreaming of taking a trip cross country. Once I thought it through, I decided to enjoy a 10 mile ride before I would think of biking over 2000 miles. Don’t plan too much or too big. It will kill the moment. When it comes to our children, they do not need big or extended activities. One of my son’s best memories is when we picked up barbecue chicken dinners at a local church and had an impromptu picnic in the park, complete with playing on the playground. Look at your community website for small activities, such as movies in the park, special events in the library and festivals. There are memories to made everywhere, right here right now.
2.Involve Your Kids in the Planning Process. I have a checklist of places I would like to visit. Over the years I have checked many destinations off of my list. Summer is great time to travel. Naturally I enjoy bringing my children on my adventures with me. Choosing which destinations to cover this year has been weighing on my mind. Are we ready for the cross country drive or should we head north to Canada? Deciding to ask my children what they would like to do was a great decision. I discovered the place they really want to go is only two hours away. Easier than I thought. As children grow up, you can’t just take them with you wherever you go. They have ideas-and plans, of their own. Asking them is a win-win because there are places they want to go and they are happy you will take them there. You can enjoy your list on your own time. Everyone wants a vacation with no friction.
3.Look for Deals. Check out popular sites to find deals for your family or personal adventures. Subscribing to online market places can help you with ideas and savings. Activities range from hourly, daily or weeklong adventures in places you may have never thought of. Make sure you read the fine print before you purchase. Many offers have some limits you will need to consider before committing, though most of the fine print is reasonable.
4.Use Your Smartphone. In world where many are ranting about the overuse of smartphones, I need to express that the technology of a Smartphone is incredible. There is a reason they call it “smart”. It saves you time, takes you to some amazing places you may never find on your own AND allows you to capture the events with a high quality camera. On a recent trip to New York City, I employed my GPS Walking Directions to help me make my way across town. My Smartphone GPS took me on a route I would normally not take. This route allowed me to have a nice lunch at Grand Central Station, have the best coffee I’ve ever had in Greenwich Village and take the High Line, a walking park above New York City. Having a Smartphone also allows me to check in on work needs in an efficient and timely manner, while enjoying my time “on the go”. Don’t be afraid to say, “Siri, directions to the nearest museum or park!” on your next adventure. You will be surprised at what you will find.

Making Summer sensational is all about planning, good communication with your travel partners and bringing along the right tools to help you. Also, be flexible and include some last minute, short adventures when the opportunity arises. Nothing will take the place of simply enjoying the place and the moment you are in.